*Kristina Weischadle, GBTA Sustainability Committee member, and the GBTA Sustainability Committee contributed the following guest blog post.*

GBTA’s convention is a big event with nearly 7,000 attendees from the business travel industry meeting in one amazing location each year. A lot goes into making this event happen and a lot goes out…meaning waste, water, electricity, food, plastic, paper…. which all equates to an impact on the planet. So how is an attendee to balance being a good steward of the earth while attending a top-notch convention such as GBTA? Here is a day in the life of a GBTA convention attendee with an environmentally conscious filter.

Sustainability word cloud concept

It is the Friday before Convention and as I pack my business attire and comfortable shoes to walk the expo floor, I throw in my refillable water bottle. There are many refilling stations throughout airports and using my own refillable water bottle eliminates plastic bottles, which usually do not get recycled and will never totally decompose in the landfills they end up in. The water refilling stations are conveniently located for travelers in many airports, including Denver International Airport and at the Colorado Convention Center.

Revolving doors. They can be found in every building we access as we travel to Convention. Do they really work to conserve energy? You bet! Yet only about 20% of people actually use the revolving door according to a 2006 study by MIT graduate students. Believe it or not, the simple choice to use those spinning doors reduces energy consumption by as much as 1.5 per cent preventing 14.6 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the air annually.

As I leave the airport, I look for a hotel shuttle or public transportation. Denver has a commuter rail line, the University of Colorado A line, travels between the airport and Denver Union Station downtown for $9. Union Station is located 10 minutes from the Colorado Convention Center. A taxi or shared-ride service from the airport to downtown costs about $40-60. GBTA also offers shuttles between the Convention Center and many of the area hotels. Check out the GBTA app for more information and schedules.

I have finally made it to Convention! GBTA has worked to make registration more efficient and less wasteful, with printing badges on demand, recycling opportunities and requesting that exhibitors print less and recycle unused materials. Balancing the information you need to make Convention successful with eco-mindfulness is an important part of planning each convention. You can even review all those wonderful education sessions you attended via the app.

On Saturday, I make my way to the main lobby of the Convention Center for the GBTA Cares Service Project and Wish for Wheels, building bikes for Denver area low-income children. Bikes are a wonderful way to travel around cities and what can be more inspiring than delivering a child their very first bike.

The expo floor is pretty amazing and knowing that it sits under a humongous solar panel roof makes it even more awe-inspiring! This 300kw rooftop solar array saves equivalent of 282 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equal to taking 53 cars off the road for a year. Whoa! Make sure you take a stroll down ICARUS Row and learn about how GBTA member companies are making a difference in their organizations.

Lunches at GBTA offer entertaining speakers, industry leaders discussing trends and chances to win once in a lifetime trips by supporting the GBTA Foundation through raffle tickets. Did you know that the Colorado Convention Center sources menus from local farms and producers as well as a 5,000 square foot urban garden managed by Centerplate. Blue Bear Farm can produce up to 5,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetable annually and jobs in the community. Doesn’t that chicken breast with roasted summer vegetables taste a little better now?

As the 2016 GBTA Convention comes to a close, I reflect back on all the people that I met, connections made, learnings and takeaways. Thinking about the actions I can take to decrease my impact on the world around me and how these small changes lead to bigger changes. Together, we can balance Convention with Stewardship!

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