Prevue asked Brian Slot, Director of Meeting, Conventions & Incentive Travel, Travel Alberta, for his thoughts on Green Meetings trends.
Q: Is there a growing demand from planners for more green venues and experiences?
A: Over the last 10 years Alberta has undergone a lot of infrastructure growth and renovations of its major meeting venues and hotels. Every new building or renovation has kept true to the high environmental standards. Like the LEED Gold certified TELUS Spark Centre, which opened its doors in 2011. The center utilizes rain for filtration system, solar shading, radiant heating panels and lighting control driven by occupancy.Our Banff Centre is a Green Leaf™ Eco-Rated Member with 4 Green Leaf status, which confirms that the building is taking substantial steps towards environmental improvement.
Likewise, Shaw Conference Centre is a partner in FRESH. This is an innovative program that supports conference and meeting planners in creating unique experiences that are environmentally, socially and economically responsible.
Q: What types of educational opportunities are there for groups revolving around the health of the planet?
A: Where better then in Banff and Jasper National Parks to enjoy an interpretive trail hike or walk with a certified naturalist? These tours for groups look at the local fauna and wildlife and how the national parks work to preserve this environment.
Also, the Royal Tyrrell Museum is Canada’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the science of paleontology. In addition to housing one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaurs, the museum offers a wide variety of creative, fun, and educational programs that bring the prehistoric past to life. In 2007, the museum became the first Canadian museum to receive the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) “Going Green” designation.
Q: What are some popular outdoor/eco group activities in Alberta?
A: Alberta is a true 4-season destination that offers different activities throughout the year. Some of the eco group activities that take advantage of our seasons are geocatching, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, river rafting or ice walking. And all of these group experiences are available close to the metropolitan cities.
Q: How do you see sustainability evolving in Alberta?
A: Sustainability starts at the top and the government of Alberta is focused on this area and continues to educate our municipalities and tourism industry with options to become more sustainable and eco-friendly. Every new build and renovation of tourism related properties takes this into account.
We foresee this trend to continue as solar and wind energy in Alberta becomes more accessible and affordable. Alberta has also invested in agriculture biotechnology, which connects back to tourism industry in two ways. First, it makes the agriculture production and processing more efficient and sustainable. Secondly, it converts agriculture and forestry waste into biofuels. Breakthroughs and developments in these areas will make Alberta and its facilities sustainable for the future.