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GMEGG: Bringing sustainability to the expo floor one booth at a time

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One of the most impactful pieces of Greenbuild’s sustainability program is an acronym you may have never heard of – GMEGG.

While it’s less visible than our tote bags made from plastic bottles, or our 200 recycling volunteers, GMEGG affects every exhibitor at Greenbuild, and it also has a huge environmental impact on the show.

GMEGG stands for the Greenbuild Mandatory Exhibition Green Guidelines, and it’s a unique program that involves all exhibitors in the sustainability of Greenbuild.

GMEGG came from the premise that all stakeholders have a role in greening the show. Of our 800-1000 exhibitors, each exhibitor controls between 100-2,450 sq. feet of the expo hall. Within this space the exhibitor does anything from building bathrooms and green roofs, to distributing giveaways and serving food.

Due to the huge number of companies involved and the wide diversity of booths and activities, many conferences don’t tackle booth greening at all.

Despite the differences among our exhibitors, each Greenbuild exhibitor is part of the green building industry and is working to make buildings sustainable in some way. Greenbuild also happens inside a (large) building, and so it provides an opportunity to showcase that green building principles can even apply to a two-day expo booth.

From local materials minimizing VOCs to energy efficient lighting, green booths are surprisingly similar to green buildings.

So, since 2010, Greenbuild has instituted mandatory sustainability requirements for all exhibitors through GMEGG. These requirements cover nine areas of booth construction and operations.

Because every exhibitor must comply with GMEGG, the requirements are made to provide flexibility for the wide variety of booths on the show floor. And mandatory requirements mean that a minimum level of performance is achieved at every single booth, and the impact of our exhibitors is huge.

To benchmark our performance and measure progress, we collect information from exhibitors on how they comply with GMEGG each year. During Greenbuild, USGBC staff visits 10% of the booths to check in with the exhibitors, review submitted GMEGG information, and check for compliance against the standards. During the audits, we learn a lot about new sustainable exhibition practices and what materials exhibitors are bringing the show.

Greenbuild 2013 will be the fourth year of GMEGG. If you’re a Greenbuild attendee, be sure to look for exhibitors with particularly low-impact booths. And if you’re an exhibitor, we're looking forward to seeing what new sustainability practices you’ll bring to the floor this year.

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    Jenny Niemann made 2 contributions in the last 6 months

Jenny Niemann

Program Planner, Greenbuild U.S. Green Building Council

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