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Green Events: Give your guests a reason to be sustainable

September 19, 2012

Before the meal was selected or a table was set at the annual ASU Staff Appreciation Barbeque last spring, organizers decided a “green event” was the way to go. The ASU Staff Council wanted to reduce waste destined for the landfill and educate staffers about ASU’s sustainability practices.

Event planners reached out to Betty Lombardo, who facilitates Green Events at ASU and is manager of University Sustainability Practices.

“Betty gave us ideas, suggestions and processes that we had not previously considered regarding how to ‘green’ an event,” said Patricia Rosciano, co-chair of the Staff Appreciation Barbeque and assistant to the vice president of ASU’s Office of Human Resources.

Barbeque organizers took numerous “green” measures before and during their event including:

• distribution of electronic invitations, agendas and programs
• encouraged staff to walk, take a shuttle or Zipcar to the event
• avoided Styrofoam by using eco-friendly service ware
• delivered an informational packet to caterers and vendors that included a sustainability section
• enlisted the Green Team to inform attendees about sustainability and proper recycling practices

“The caterer served locally grown, in-season food on compostable plates,” Lombardo said. Bulk-beverage containers were available for patrons to fill their own cups or mugs, and recyclable cups were on site that day. Disposable water bottles were not made available.”

The barbeque achieved a gold certification and was one of three large events that the ASU Staff Council held last year. The council is planning more Green Events for 2013.

“I completely recommend hosting a green event!” Rosciano said. “Betty does an excellent job, and it’s the right thing to do.”  

The ASU Staff Appreciation Barbeque not only garnered a gold certification, but also inspired Michele Nobles to host a Green Event. She is a business operations specialist for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies (QESST), a part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“Being sustainable is important to ASU and to me personally,” Nobles said. “Our unit is directly involved in sustainable solar research, so we knew our event attendees would be willing to help.”

Nobles and Lombardo worked together to plan the event. They quickly decided that printed promotional materials would be kept to a minimum. Event communications included a PowerPoint slide and an announcement on the group’s website.

To ensure that Green Event food and food service standards were being met, Nobles worked closely with caterers. “They were very willing to accommodate our requests,” she said.

Reusable signage adorned the catering, eating and recycling areas. Event attendees received take-away promotional items that were only made from recycled or recyclable materials.

“Hosting a Green Event was not difficult or complicated at all,” Nobles said. “Betty was very helpful. This was our first time doing it, and we received a gold certification – which we are very proud of.”

From Start to Green

Earning a gold certification for a Green Event begins by selecting either the self-guided or facilitated planning options:

• Self-Guided: An event planner downloads the 52-item Green Event Checklist and guides a team or committee through the certification process. The event planner then completes an application requesting a bronze, silver or gold Green Event certification and sends it to Upon receiving and approving the completed checklist and application, University Sustainability Practices issues a Green Event certification.

• Facilitated: A University Sustainability Practices staff member conducts facilitated sessions during an event planning meeting to familiarize the planning chair or committee with the Green Event Checklist and certification process.

Once the paperwork is submitted and approved, University Sustainability Practices staff then distributes gold, silver or bronze Green Event certificates to be displayed during Green Events.

Seeing the Greener Picture

Going beyond individual event plans and checklists, the Green Events program reinforces ASU’s sustainability operations commitment to lead by example and “walk the talk.”

According to Lombardo, Green Events benefit the university in numerous ways, including: the reduction of negative environmental impacts; expressing ASU’s sustainability values; being a leader for positive change; and building sustainability awareness among stakeholders.

ASU’s stakeholders include on- and off-campus Green Events patrons. For instance, the ASU Homecoming Block Party organizers last fall received a gold certification for its numerous Green Event efforts.

“Hydration stations, electric carts, solar-panel light towers, and giving volunteer’s lanyards made from soda bottles and T-shirts created from recycled content materials are just a few examples of how the Block Party planners achieved a gold certification,” Lombardo said.

Lombardo believes that every Green Event – big and small – helps build sustainability awareness and practice. With assistance from the University Sustainability Practices group, she hopes to continue to grow the number of Green Events held across ASU’s campuses.

“Of ASU’s 1,600 annual events, I have a personal goal to ‘green’ 160 of them,” Lombardo said. “We have a long way to go, but I’m confident that we can encourage more students and staff to participate in Green Events this coming year.”

Learn how to host a Green Event by visiting the Green Events website, or email