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  • Giuliana Kunkel

When planning for an event, sustainability is the name of the game

July is upon us, which means one thing - USGBC National Capital Region’s biggest event of the year is almost here: A Midsummer Night’s Green (MSNG). This year, over 300 professionals from the green building industry will come together at Arena Stage on July 18 to recognize and celebrate the achievements of industry leaders and showcase projects that completed over the past year.

This will be my third year serving on the host committee for MSNG, and each year, it has been a tradition of the committee to make every planning decision with sustainability in mind – from deciding to offset emissions generated by the event, to rewarding sustainable transportation and focusing on eliminating waste.

One of the reasons USBGBC NCR is hosting the event at Arena Stage again this year is that its location cannot be beat. Not only is Arena Stage in close proximity to the Wharf, DC’s first Phase II LEED Gold ND certified project, it is accessible via multiple Metro Bus Lines, the circulator, the Metro Rail’s Green Line, and there are two Capital Bikeshare stations. For those who choose to bike to the event, there will be a complimentary helmet check available.

When registering for the event, you’ll see a question asking how you are traveling to Arena Stage and from which zip code. If you attended last year’s event, you’ll remember that guests who walked, biked or used public transportation qualified to win prizes in USGBC NCR’s Sustainable Transportation Giveaway. Thanks to the generosity of multiple donors, the Sustainable Transportation Giveaway will be back this year and better than ever! Prizes will include gift boxes from New Columbia Distillers, office sampler starter packages from Tayst Coffee, Bloom Soil from Bloom, a three-month coupon for composting from Compost Crew, and a $50 gift card donated by Mom’s Organic Market.

Pictured above: Attendees at A Midsummer Night's Green 2018 who used sustainable travel options participate in USGBC NCR's Sustainable Transportation Giveaway.

USGBC NCR will also use attendee travel information provided during registration to help calculate the event’s total carbon emissions, a number that also takes into account total energy used onsite to power the venue. After the event, USGBC NCR will purchase carbon offsets for these emissions. This will be the second year in a row that carbon offsets are being purchased to make this a carbon-neutral event.

For any social gathering, eliminating waste and diverting it from the landfill can be quite difficult. USGBC has strict sustainability and waste guidelines for all events, and A Midsummer Night’s Green takes these to the next level. Each year, the host committee strives to make A Midsummer Night’s Green a zero waste event. We limit the amount of printed marketing materials and do not offer a printed program. All food waste is compostable, and all food and beverages are served on rented glassware rather than on disposables. This year we are taking the additional step of serving beer in kegs from local breweries rather than using cases of glass bottles and cans.

Pictured above: A few of our sustainable event policies in action - all event signage is printed on 100% recyclable materials, food is locally sourced, and centerpieces are a combination of upcycled used books and planted succulents.

Finally, an event cannot be complete without decorations, and the planning committee has made all decisions concerning decor with sustainability in mind. Most of our event decorations are recycled from other events, and any florals used for decorations will be in planters that guests can take home rather than using cut flowers. In keeping with our Shakespearean theme, solar lanterns will line the venue’s windows and mason jars with fairy lights will be found among the high tops. All of these lights are illuminated with solar power and do not require batteries or an energy draw from power outlets.

As you can see, green features of an event are something that USGBC NCR and the MSNG planning committee carefully consider. We hope you can attend the premier sustainability event of the year on July 18th and celebrate the accomplishments of the industry’s leaders with us.

Special thanks to our A Midsummer Night's Green Sustainability Sponsors:

Giuls Kunkel is a member of the USGBC NCR’s Market Leadership Advisory Board, serves as a member of the Midsummer Night’s Green planning committee and is an Account Manager at the DC Sustainable Energy Utility.

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