Your Guide to Green Meetings in Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles, Facebook

For citywide conventions, the Los Angeles Convention Center is renowned as one of the greenest venues of its kind in the country. Read More →

From sustainable hotels and meals to recycling and public transportation, there are several steps to keep in mind when planning a green meeting in L.A. Here is a handy guide to help get you started.

Step 1: Book a Green Seal Hotel

A non-profit independent organization, Green Seal Inc. certifies lodgings that cut down on waste while promoting water and energy conservation. Los Angeles has an impressive number of eco-friendly, Green Seal certified hotels. Whether in the Valley, Hollywood, Downtown, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, LAX or Redondo Beach, these L.A.-area lodgings implement guidelines that reduce and minimize harm upon the environment. Many hotels also double as meeting spaces where event planners can further implement nature-friendly policies to help an entire event stay green, from start to finish.

With 110,000 square feet of conference space including the 26,108 square-foot California Ballroom, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites features 28 meeting areas, 25 hospitality suites and 29 breakout rooms for smaller meetings or scheduled sessions. The 1,358-room Westin Bonaventure was L.A.'s first hotel to receive the Green Seal Silver Certification in 2009, and it has worked to improve its eco-friendly reputation ever since. The venue regularly conserves electricity, water and natural gas with the help of energy-saving equipment such as light sensors and water-conserving fixtures, and it features a purchasing policy that's both socially and environmentally sensitive. The Westin Bonaventure uses non-toxic cleaning products and biodegradable washing detergents, and composts food waste while reducing disposable food items as well.

With Green Seal Silver Certification, the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel offers 50,000 square feet of convention space, with a 11,400-square-foot, high-tech Grand Ballroom that accommodates up to 1,500 guests and dozens of flexible meeting rooms and event areas, as well as 802 guest rooms. The hotel uses energy-efficient indoor lighting with timers and motion censors in the meeting rooms, as well as nontoxic, biodegradable cleaning products, plus composting and recycling programs, too. The Sheraton Gateway also offers guests a chance to participate in the "Make a Green Choice” program, which gives rewards in exchange for conserving resources such as water, gas, electricity, natural gas and up to 7oz. of chemicals per guest each night.

The 482-room Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City has 35,000 square feet of meeting space and state-of-the-art equipment. Sales, IT, A/V and Banquet team members are on hand to make conferences and any other large event go smoothly. With Green Seal Silver Certification, the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City features 16 recycling programs, as well as food and yard composting, LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, reusable service items and low-flow toilets and faucets. It also participates in the "Conserve to Preserve" program for sheets and towels, further promoting overall water and energy efficiency as well as waste reduction. A division of California Department of General Services/Statewide Travel and Meeting, the California Green Lodging Program gave the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City the highest rank sustainability prize: the Environmentalist Level award.

In July 2016, the JW Marriott at LA Live Hotel earned a Green Seal Silver Certification for operating in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner. The JW Marriott is the eighth hotel certified through the City of Los Angeles Green Lodging Program, which is part of the City’s Green Business Certification Program. With its central location in the Los Angeles Downtown district, the JW Marriott at L.A. LIVE provides a deluxe level of comfort and personal service within a unique hotel environment designed to reflect its location. Guests enjoy convenient access to LA, whether visiting the revitalized Downtown area or other parts of Los Angeles. The bustling hotel boasts 14 event rooms and 76,687 square feet of venue space.

Step 2: Go paperless

During your event, cut down on handouts, binders, folders and other papers that are not absolutely necessary by creating a dedicated website, and deliver content on CDs or reusable flash drives. If handouts are required, print them double-sided on 100% post-consumer recycled paper that is process chlorine free. If binders and folders are necessary, ask the venue's communications center if there are any you can reuse, and make sure the binders are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved.

Property of Discover Los Angeles
Photo courtesy of Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, Facebook

Step 3: Offer sustainable food and beverages

For food and beverages, find vendors and purchasers who deliver organic, local, fair trade, shade-grown coffee and other sustainable products and ingredients. Buy and serve items such as salt, pepper, sugar, cream and other condiments in bulk to reduce packaging waste and confirm with vendors and purchasers that packaging is recyclable or compostable. Make every effort to provide non-disposable cups, plates and silverware. Serve light refreshments such as finger foods to reduce use of utensils, or consider a buffet-style meal instead of a sit-down affair to minimize usage of serviceware. Implement a pre-event meal signup system to reduce leftovers, and if there are any, contact a local nonprofit to coordinate donation.

Step 4: Recycle

Determine who will be hauling, composting, recycling and/or throwing away materials after the event, and coordinate recycling procedures accordingly. Ensure properly labeled recycling bins are available for recycling and composting, and strategically place them near trash receptacles. Regularly monitor the waste stations to minimize cross-contamination and consistently remind attendees to recycle. Research donation opportunities for reusable materials and return borrowed items such as binders and name badge holders.

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Metro Rail Pershing Square Station | Photo courtesy of Andy Kennelley, Flickr 

Step 5: Use Metro and other public transport

Promote the use of mass transportation to reduce emissions by choosing a central location for your meeting. The Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City is just steps from the Red Line's Universal City Station, while the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites is not far from the Red Line's Pershing Square Station. The Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel offers a complimentary LAX shuttle service, and at just 10 miles from LAX, the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza recommends taking the 24-Hour SuperShuttle. All hotels are pedestrian-friendly, but if venturing out into other areas, consider carpooling with others, be it a rental car or taxi.

Step 6: Communicate

Finally, consider electronically providing attendees with data on how many pounds were recycled and how much energy was conserved after the event. It's also important to convey your overall mission of sustainability from beginning to end. Whether electronically or on paper, communicate something like the following to meeting attendees:

"This is a green event. Every effort has been made to reduce the overall footprint and to protect human health and the environment. Green features such as (fill in as appropriate. Ie. recycled content paper, recycling, food donation, biodegradable food service ware, carbon neutral travel options, etc.) will prevent pollution, minimize solid waste, save energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Thank you for supporting these efforts!”