Visit Denver, the destination marketing organization for the mile-high Colorado capital, has an achievement to celebrate: It’s the first of its kind to earn the highest possible status—platinum-level certification—in the Events Industry Council’s Sustainable Event Standards program.
EIC’s sustainability standards cover a wide range of topics, such as energy sources; transportation and vehicles; water management; materials and circularity; supply-chain management; diversity, equity and inclusion; accessibility; and social impact. But what exactly did Visit Denver have to do to earn its certification?
As it turns out, the closer you look, the more impressive it gets. There are standards specific to a destination certification and other standards for event organizers, venues, exhibition services, and other categories of event industry suppliers. The EIC’s 179-page Sustainable Event Standards flipbook (draft available here) dedicates 21 pages to listing the 74 criteria for destinations, how each criterion is assessed, guidance on implementation, and the number of points awarded for achieving each one.
To gain the platinum-level certification, Visit Denver needed to earn at least 90 percent of the total possible points. (Bronze level is awarded for 50 percent of the points; silver level needs 65 percent, and gold level 80 percent.) EIC works with BPA iCompli Sustainability, a nonprofit auditing organization, to assess a certification candidate’s compliance with the standards.
Here’s a sample of what EIC is looking for in a sustainable destination entity, just a dozen of the 74 criteria for earning the certification:
• Have a publicly available sustainability and social-impact policy with executive-level support that been updated within the past 12 months.
• Provide education to event organizers on sustainability programs available in the destination.
• Measure waste and recycling on a regular basis and calculate an annual landfill- and incineration-diversion rate.
• Provide event organizers with guidance for reusing, repurposing, or donating event materials.
• Have a program that supports restaurants and caterers that have a commitment to sustainability, promoting them to event organizers and attendees, updated annually.
• Operate a supplier-diversity program.
• Have one or more team members who has earned EIC’s Sustainable Event Professional Certificate or a comparable certificate.
• Provide mentorship on sustainability to an organization or local business.
• Provide employee-wellness programs.
• Established objectives and numeric targets for water-consumption reduction.
• Measure and report carbon emissions on an annual basis.
• Provide electric-vehicle charging stations for employees and guests.
The sample of EIC criteria makes it clear that a destination marketing organization needs a strong commitment to responsible practices, and Richard W. Scharf, president and CEO of Visit Denver noted that effort. “This is a milestone achievement for Visit Denver … It is a great honor to be the first to earn such a vitally important certification while making a significant contribution toward our city’s long-term vision for sustainability.”