2012 Greening the Conference

Each year, I2SL strives to make the Labs21 Annual Conference as green as possible and "walk the talk" of sustainability. We take this into account when searching for host cities, convention centers, hotels, and vendors, and select facilities and companies that share our commitment to sustainability.

The city of San Jose is also focused on environmental sustainability. Mayor Chuck Reed is leading the city toward a sustainable future, with the implementation of a 15-year "Green Vision" strategy. This plan calls for the creation of 25,000 clean-tech jobs, the planting of 100,000 new trees, and the creation of 100 miles of interconnected trails. The city also plans to cut its energy consumption by 50 percent. Strategy goals focus on three elements: clean technology, sustainability, and green mobility. As the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose is home to more than 1,500 of the world's largest technology firms, making this city well poised to become even more of an innovative, environmentally-focused leader.

I2SL was proud to return to San Jose and hold the 2012 Annual Conference in such an environmentally-minded city.

The following are some of the ways in which I2SL reduced the environmental impact of this year's event.

Energy Reduction

  • Between 2003 and 2011, Labs21 purchased 506,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy credits to offset carbon emissions resulting from Labs21 Annual Conferences. This total is equivalent to the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from more than 40,000 gallons of gasoline consumed!
  • A certified Bay Area Green Business, the San Jose Marriott features occupancy sensors and timers that turn off lights after a period of inactivity.
  • The San Jose McEnery Convention Center uses electrically powered service carts around the campus. The convention center features the first two ChargePoint America electrical vehicle charging stations in San Jose. Both charging stations are free for public use.
  • The San Jose McEnery Convention Center also uses occupancy sensors and applied a window film to reduce solar heat gain. 

Sustainable Meals

  • The San Jose McEnery Convention Center features an in-house culinary team that sources the freshest local, often organic, ingredients from regional vendors.
  • The convention center donates excess food to local food banks and shelters, as well as provides meal products that are recyclable or compostable.
  • The San Jose Marriott uses biodegradable food packaging products―including cups, lids, and straws made from 100 percent U.S.-grown corn―in its restaurant and encourages the use of china service rather than disposable products.
  • Reusable china and flatware were used as much as possible for meals and breaks during the conference.

Waste Reduction

  • As a member of Pacific Gas & Electric's Climate Smart Program, the San Jose McEnery Convention Center utilizes an extensive recycling program for food waste, office and mixed paper, and many other recyclable products. Recycling bins are available throughout the convention center.
  • The San Jose McEnery Convention Center is one of the few West Coast centers to offer composting.
  • The convention center purchases recycled-content and environmentally conscious office paper, office products, soaps, carpet, and restroom products, as well as donates usable items such as furniture, supplies, and scrap material.
  • The convention center purchases and uses only Green Seal cleaning supplies.
  • The center purchases in bulk to minimize packaging, audits waste composition regularly, and donates unwanted, usable items to schools, non-profits, and other organizations.
  • The San Jose Marriott employs an in-room recycling program and donates used linens and towels, as well as partially-used bathing products, to those in need through the Clean the World program.
  • The San Jose Marriott recycles fluorescent light bulbs and batteries.
  • The San Jose Marriott uses reusable materials whenever possible in place of disposable items.
  • The Technology and Services Fair utilized a range of waste-reducing techniques, including:

    • Carpet made from post-consumer recycled material.
    • Green printing capabilities for banners, signs, and other graphics.
    • Proper removal and distribution of such recyclable materials as table skirts, signs and banners, carpet, and steel and aluminum exhibit structures.
  • The conference was as paperless as possible:

    • Prior to the conference, the agenda and speaker abstracts were posted to the I2SL website instead of being distributed in hard copy format. Additionally, attendees received a copy of the attendee list via email 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.

Water Conservation

  • The San Jose McEnery Convention Center has self-closing faucets in its restrooms, as well as 1.6 gallon-per-flush toilets and other water-efficient restroom fixtures.
  • The center also has low-flow aerators on all kitchen faucets.
  • The center utilizes efficient landscape watering practices.
  • The center further minimizes water waste by cleaning with dry sweepers.
  • The San Jose Marriott uses low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads, and offers guests the option to not launder sheets and towels every day.

Transportation Around Town

The San Jose McEnery Convention Center is within walking distance of theaters, art galleries, museums, and a range of restaurants. Attendees were encouraged to take advantage of this lively downtown by foot or public transit instead of renting a car.

A light rail transit system and buses connect San Jose hotels, motels, shops, and restaurants with the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.
Attendees could plan their outings in San Jose using the Convention and Visitors Bureau's downtown map (601 K, 2 pp).

Located just three miles from downtown San Jose, the Mineta San Jose International Airport has recently completed a $1.3 billion modernization project and is now one of the country's leading green airports. The airport's Terminal B and Terminal B Concourse have achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Silver certification, thanks to its sustainable design, construction, and materials. The airport has converted its entire shuttle bus fleet from diesel to compressed natural gas, which reduces their emissions by nearly 100 tons annually, as compared to 2001 levels. Visitors were able to ride public transit between the airport and the convention center/hotel.

What Attendees Could Do to Make the Conference Greener

  • Explore other travel options beyond flying to San Jose, such as taking the train.
  • Reuse your hotel linens and take quick showers to minimize water use.
  • Tell the hotel to hold your daily newspaper if you don't plan to read it.
  • Instruct housekeeping to replace your sheets only at the end of your stay.
  • Turn off any lights, TVs, or computers in your hotel room when not in use.
  • Reuse your water bottles and drink from the water stations instead of using disposable plastic bottles.
  • Bring your own water bottle and/or coffee mug from home to reduce waste on site.
  • Turn in your name tag at the end of the conference for reuse at next year's conference.
  • Whenever possible, walk, carpool, or take public transportation around town.
  • Return 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 travel emissions! Attendees were encouraged to consider alternatives to flying to the conference, such as taking the train.

Also, check out the innovative programs listed below that offer great ways to reduce CO2 emissions for everyday life and your trip to the Labs21 Annual Conference.


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.

Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF)

BEF's online calendar will determine the approximate carbon footprint of your flight or drive and allow you to buy a corresponding amount of dedicated funds to the development of renewable energy sources like solar power and wind farms to reduce carbon emissions.

See the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) website for more information.


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