BPA to Audit Sustainability Claims of Event Suppliers

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Shelton, CT – The greening of the trade show industry took a step forward when BPA Worldwide appointed a new manager to oversee the auditing of the sustainability practices of event suppliers.

John Mikstay was promoted this week to the position of manager of assurance services with the responsibility for confirming the certifications earned by venues, hotels and convention bureaus seeking to polish up their green images.

“Customers and stakeholders are demanding a reduced environmental footprint, which is causing venues, hospitality organizations and suppliers to get up to speed on sustainability issues,” said Mikstay, who had been manager of event audits for BPA since 2005.

The audits do not extend to individual trade shows themselves, but giving the event’s venue and suppliers a green stamp of approval will reflect well on the show. “At least you can ask your suppliers to get certified,” said Karl Pfalzgraf, vice president of sustainability assurance at BPA. “For most organizers, that’s a good first step.”

Certifying a trade show as sustainable is a complex matter given the large number of stakeholders and moving parts, not the least of which is making certain that each one follows the guidelines, Pfalzgraf told Trade Show Executive. But with the contractors and venue on board, it would be safe to say that BPA’s seal of approval enables show marketers to claim their exhibition is indeed green.

The audits will be based mainly on the voluntary APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards, a set of best practices that are not as stringent as the better-known LEED standards, but are the current gold standard for the trade show industry. “APEX/ASTM standards were set by the Convention Industry Council (CIC) and ASTM International. They cover nine areas of show operations from transportation and venues to exhibits and marketing. Third-party certification of the APEX/ASTM standards by BPA is a public recognition of an organization’s commitment to improve the sustainability of the events industry,” said Mikstay.

The process is not nearly as exhaustive and complex as attaining LEED certification, Pflazgraf said. “ASTM is complimentary to LEED, but it focuses specifically on what you need to do to put on a sustainable event,” he said.

BPA’s audits consist of a review of paperwork by Pfalzgraf, Mikstay and a team of four auditors trained in the APEX/ASTM standards. No site visit is required, and most audits can be completed in about two weeks at a cost of $2,500 to $5,000.

Reach Karl Pfalzgraf at (203) 447-2817 or kpfalzgraf@bpaww.com; John Mikstay at (203) 447-2800 or jmikstay@bpaww.com