Informa and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced the release of the 2018 Greenbuild Sustainability Report, highlighting valuable metrics and key benchmarks regarding the impact on sustainable sourcing, community involvement, and carbon footprint reduction at the 2018 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, held last November at McCormick Place in Chicago. The event achieved an overall 86% waste diversion rate.

“We’re thrilled to have made such great strides for event sustainability,” said Sherida Sessa, Greenbuild brand director, Informa. “We had a lot of ‘firsts’ in 2018 and tried new approaches that worked well. Our hope is that these achievements will be adopted through the events industry. Greenbuild’s education is about sustainability in the built environment, but the way the event is produced leads to these sustainability wins. We’re extraordinarily grateful to our vendors and partners for helping us to cross these milestones.” The comprehensive report details the sustainability initiatives implemented for the 2018 event, through a review of all objectives, goals and best practices. Case studies provide detailed overviews of sustainability strategies and initiatives including waste diversion, attendee and stakeholder engagement, sourcing and donation of materials, performance tracking improvements, and community engagement. Highlights include the elimination of single-use plastics, 28,000 pledges cast by attendees, and more than 20,000 pounds of carbon offset. The report can be accessed online at

“Greenbuild continuously seeks to set the standard for event sustainability. This is only possible through the support of incredible partners and vendors as well as our Greenbuild Host Committee,” said Kim Heavner, vice president, conference and events at USGBC. “For the second year, we incorporated the TRUE Zero Waste Rating System, and elevated our tracking processes while capturing our waste reduction efforts.”

The report shares the progress of seven sustainability objectives at Greenbuild, including the following highlights:

  • Waste Management: Informa, USGBC, McCormick Place, Freeman, and local vendors worked together to optimize waste management strategies resulting in an overall 86% waste diversion rate.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Greenbuild is unique in that sustainability practices permeate the entire event; it’s produced in a genuinely sustainable manner. In 2018, attendees were prompted to think about sustainability prior to arriving on-site. They could commit to specific pledges, including bringing a reusable water bottle or selecting local or organic food while onsite in Chicago. For the first time, attendees were also asked to reserve a copy of the printed expo guide, which resulted in a reduction in overall print quantity and leftover paper at the conclusion of the show.
  • Sustainable Sourcing: The Greenbuild team consistently evaluates the materials used on-site to reduce the show’s overall impact on the environment. Greenbuild was able to remove plastic straws from all concession areas throughout the convention center.
  • Performance Tracking: USGBC and Informa were thrilled to have Greenbuild 2018 pursue, for the second time, the TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) zero waste event certification and once again certified at the Platinum level. Through this effort, Greenbuild achieved a 93% TRUE waste diversion.
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Meat, cheese and egg production are the largest carbon footprint culprits in Greenbuild’s menu planning. This year, for the first time, catered meals featured plated lunches that were 100% vegan – totaling 3,500 meals. This initiative reduced Greenbuild’s carbon footprint by more than 9.35 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2 Eq).
  • Community Impact: The 2018 Greenbuild Legacy Project, led by Illinois Green Alliance, the Greenbuild 2018 Host Committee chose to support the Science Giants Program at Project Exploration, an education organization dedicated to making science accessible to youth from underrepresented communities. Students built a garden bed and harvest for Inspiration Kitchens, a neighborhood restaurant that employs and serves homeless and previously incarcerated community members.
  • Hospitality Industry: An educational session on event sustainability was offered to event organizers, venues and vendors. The session featured the Greenbuild sustainability team and partners sharing how Greenbuild incorporates sustainability throughout the event and offered actions and information on how to include greener practices into any event management strategy.

Greenbuild continues to prioritize sustainability and demonstrate leadership when it comes to greening the conference and events industry. This year’s conference will take place November 20-22 in Atlanta. Registration will open in the summer.