University of Florida
Sustainable Event Planning Guide
Any on or off-campus event can be sustainable. The following guide should help
get you started in organizing your event planning. Just remember,
implementing even a few of these ideas will make a difference! You'll impress
those involved, show a commitment to our campus community, and educate your
participants. Thanks for your commitment to sustainability at UF!
1 Involve members of your planning committee.
2 Choose your meeting sites
3 Publicize your intentions
Planning Your Event
1 Choose an event site
2 Identify Presenters
3 Publicize and begin Registration
4 Prepare Event Materials
5 Food Services
At the Event
1 Conserving Energy
2 Education for Participants
3 Recycling and Managing Waste
4 Evaluate and Celebrate Your Success!
2 Additional Resources
1) Involve members of your planning committee.
Show your commitment to creating a sustainable event by involving all others in charge of
the project. You'll need to set goals, discuss your criteria and desired outcomes, and define
a technique for measuring them.
Sustainability can be defined simply as meeting contemporary needs without compromising
the ability of future stakeholders to satisfy their needs. This guide should be a reference
for setting sustainable goals for your event, but you can research further initiatives at the
website for the UF Office of Sustainability. The planning checklist at the end of this guide
will also help you in setting priorities.
2) Choose your meeting sites.
Choose meeting sites that are easily
accessible for everyone involved in the
planning process. If meeting on campus,
choose a building that is easy walking or
biking distance to their offices. If
meeting downtown, send everyone
instructions on how to take the RTS bus
(www.go-rts.com) or organize your own
carpool from campus. The information
desk at the J. Wayne Reitz Union is a
convenient place to book a meeting room.
3) Publicize your intentions.
Let everyone know about your commitment to sustainability! Include information about your
sustainable initiatives when you send outreach materials or communicate with potential
presenters, sponsors, participants, or contractors.
When publicizing your event, you can use several strategies to reduce waste:
Use recycled paper when printing materials.
Replace full brochures with small postcards or even e-mail notices.
When mailing information, print addresses directly onto postcard or brochure as
opposed to using a sticker.
Leave dates off of signs so that they can be reused for future conferences.
Use e-mail and internet publicity!
Planning Your Event
1) Choose an event site
Choose a site that is near public transportation. The Reitz Union has frequent bus service
and a hotel so participants can attend without using a personal vehicle. Contact the
information desk to learn more about booking the rooms you'll need for an event. Make sure
to publicize all options for public transit on your website and in publicity materials.
If you are planning an event off-campus, or are using off-campus vendors, then talk to their
management about sustainable practices. They may be able to work with you to improve the
performance of the site before your event. Questions to ask include: How do you conserve
energy and water? Do you recycle and minimize your waster? What type of construction
techniques do you use? Plan to arrange for shuttles from the event location if it is not on
campus. Call RTS at (352) 334-2600 to discuss private bus shuttles.
2) Identify Presenters
Look for local experts to use as presenters in order to publicize Gainesville and UF
initiatives. Organize biographical information and presentation materials through e-mail.
3) Publicize and begin Registration
For registration and publicity, use online communication. If you need help organizing online
registration, you can use the services offered by the UF TREEO Center at
Contact TREEO at firstname.lastname@example.org
4) Prepare Event Materials
Carefully consider which materials must be included in a packet and print these double-
sided. You can post the rest online. For nametags, request that participants bring the
holder from a previous conference or request that they are returned at the end of your
event. Use dry erase boards with non-toxic markers as opposed to flip sheet pads. Ask
participants to be prepared with their own pen and paper for notes, as opposed to setting
places with full pads and new pens. Use reusable cups or water bottles that can be taken
home by guests. For table decorations, use potted plants as opposed to cut flowers.
5) Food Services
TREEO also provides options for managing your meals during the event. If your event is on
campus, you will need to use Classic Fare Catering through GatorDining. Contact Classic Fare
about their organic and local food menu options at email@example.com or visit their
website at www.bsd.ufl.edu/dining/cfc/. Carefully estimate your food amounts to minimize
the amount of wasted food.
At the Event
1) Conserving Energy
Look for naturally lighted rooms and plan for
appropriate times of the day in order to conserve
energy. Create a forum on the website where out-
of-town participants can contact each other to
arrange car-pools. Choose an event hotel that is
close to your event site and provide a shuttle or. :
public transportation if necessary.
2) Education for Participants
Announce your goals during opening and closing
speaking events and ask for assistance in meeting
those goals. Report your accomplishments at the
end of the conference in the form of statistics on
energy and other sustainability objectives attained.
Educate participants on any extra efforts the event
site has made to become more sustainable.
3) Recycling and Managing Waste
Place recycling bins in prominent locations at the event site. During announcements, remind
everyone to recycle and explain where this can be done. On campus, you may need to
provide your own containers and then drop off materials in the recycling bins around campus.
For more information, contact the UF Physical Plant Solid Waste Coordinator, Al Krause, at
Compost food-waste in a personal bin or worm compost (see livinggreen.ifas.ufl.edu/waste/
For more information) or contact Dr. Ann Wilkie, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information
on large scale composting.
Use recycled event materials including paper, pens, and other office products. Check
fa.ufl.edu/am/surplus/ For used electronics and other supplies. For new materials, follow
departmental channels and request options that use recycled materials.
4) Evaluate and Celebrate Your Success!
Conduct an online survey asking participants to evaluate the sustainability initiatives and
their success. You can display these numbers on the website after your event.
SUSTAINABLE EVENT CHECKLIST:
Waste Prevention and Reduction
I Print all materials and handouts on double-sided paper.
L Post materials on website and print copies only upon request.
L Request that participants bring name badges or provide reusable badges.
L Provide receptacles for paper and container recycling.
O Provide only reusable beverage containers, silverware, and plates.
O Serve accurate amounts of food in order to avoid unnecessary waste.
L Use natural lighting for exhibit and meeting areas.
L Publish local public transportation routes.
O Provide shuttle and car-pool options from off-site hotels.
L Use recycled paper for materials and handouts.
O Provide reusable containers for water and coffee.
O Ask guests to bring reusable event bags from previous conferences
O Select products that can be reused if a recycled option is not available
J Encourage participants to reuse bags and nametags at other events.
L Encourage recycling during the event.
O Announce initiatives and achievements at opening and closing ceremonies.
UF Office of Sustainability
UF Public Surplus
GreenBiz Sustainable Event Planning
Dan McKeague UF Office of Sustainability