Greening the Conference

Each year, the Labs21 conference cosponsors, EPA, DOE, and I2SL, strive to make the Labs21 Annual Conference as green as possible to “walk the talk” of sustainability. The following are some of the ways in which we helped reduce the environmental impact of this year’s event.

Energy Reduction

  • Between 2003 and 2008, Labs21 purchased 296,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy credits to offset carbon emissions resulting from the Labs21 Annual Conferences. In 2009, 70,000 kilowatt-hours were purchased for a seven-year total of 366,000 kilowatt-hours. This total is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions from nearly 30,000 gallons of gasoline consumed! This year's renewable energy credits came from an Indiana wind facility.

Sustainable Meals

  • Meals were served with reusable china/silverware wherever possible.
  • Food for the Technology and Services Fair Evening Reception was prepared using local produce, meats, and beverages.
  • All condiments were purchased in bulk, reducing waste and spoilage.
  • All leftover food was donated to Second Helpings, a local food rescue program.
  • In an effort to save water and excess packaging, water stations were provided, rather than individual bottles.
  • The Indiana Convention Center has a strategic partnership with a local organic dairy farm, Traders Point Creamery, to provide milk, cheese, and yogurt for receptions desiring organic components.

Waste Reduction

  • The Indiana Convention Center has an extensive recycling program, recycling more than 232,000 cans on an annual basis. In addition, wholesalers have the opportunity to recycle pallets.
  • The Indianapolis Marriott Downtown recycles paper, newspapers, and other news debris, and bails all cardboard used on property (typically a minimum of one dozen pallets per week).
  • The Indiana Convention Center ensures that lighting is reduced and HVAC is adjusted during conference move-ins and -outs.
  • The Indianapolis Marriott Downtown uses energy-efficient lighting; offers a linen reuse program; uses eco-friendly cleaning products whenever possible; and donates leftover, partially used amenities (e.g., soap, shampoo). In addition, the hotel only delivers daily newspapers to guest rooms upon request.
  • The Technology and Services Fair utilized a range of waste-reducing techniques, including:
    • Carpet made from postconsumer recycled material.
    • Biodegradable table covers and trash bags and wastebaskets made from 100 percent recycled materials.
    • Recycled paper for signage.
  • The conference was also as paperless as possible:
    • Prior to the conference, the agenda and speaker abstracts were posted to the I2SL website. Additionally, attendees received a copy of the attendee list via e-mail instead of receiving a printed copy on site.
    • During the conference, hard copy handouts were limited to only necessary items, such as the conference program.
    • After the conference, speakers’ presentations were posted to the I2SL website, and an evaluation was distributed electronically to attendees.


  • With 30,000 hotel rooms, 200 restaurants and 50 attractions within walking distance of this year’s conference, attendees didn't have to use vehicle transportation to get around town.
  • Indianapolis provides shuttle bus service from the airport to downtown for $7.00 one-way. Take the IndyGo bus “green line” (Route 205 Downtown/Airport Express) from the ground transportation area of the airport terminal. Visit the IndyGo bus’ website for more information about its green line.

What Attendees Did to Make the Conference Greener

  • Reused hotel linens and took quick showers to minimize water use.
  • Turned off any lights, TVs, or computers when not in use.
  • Reused water bottles and drank from the water stations instead of using disposable plastic bottles.
  • Turned in name tags for reuse at next year’s conference.
  • Whenever possible, walked or carpooled around town.
  • Returned any unused handouts to vendors or conference organizers to reuse or recycle.

Easy Ways to Reduce Your Travel Emissions

You too can be a part of Labs21's effort to reduce its environmental impact! Check out the innovative programs listed below that offer great ways to reduce your CO2 emissions year-round.


NativeEnergy uses the money donated to its program to help finance and support renewable energy projects such as wind farms and dairy farm methane digesters. Simply calculate your carbon footprint using an online calculator and pay your way to a better, cleaner environment.

Explore the NativeEnergy website for more information.


TerraPass's online calculator will determine your car's approximate CO2 emissions. Based on that number, you can buy a TerraPass that ranges in price from $40 to $80. This money is used to support environmental initiatives that reduce industrial CO2 emissions.

See the TerraPass website for more information.


Better World Travel had developed a creative way to offset airplane CO2 emissions—through the TravelCool! carbon offset program. Through TravelCool!, travelers that book a flight through Better World Travel receive a carbon offset. Travelers can also book their travel separately and send in a donation to offset their flight. The funds generated by Better World Travel are used to support many different projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

Search the Better World Club website for more information.


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