OPCC Sustainability Program
ECO-FRIENDLY EVENT VENUE
Ensuring a greener impact.
Creating a more eco-friendly event venue at the Overland Park Convention Center is one way we make a positive impact on our community. Our leadership team worked with local environmental organizations to create goals focused on responsible waste management, green purchasing, energy efficiency and resource conservation to improve our sustainability efforts for the long term.
This collaboration identified opportunities for more sustainable operations across all departments. Overland Park Convention Center is committed to enhancing green practices in partnership with city officials, corporate leaderships, clients and community partners.
Why is sustainability so important to the hospitality industry?
Restaurants, convention centers, hotels, and other hospitality businesses have a longstanding reputation for producing a lot of waste in a short period of time. With an influx of hundreds or even thousands of visitors within days, waste management before, during, and after an event can be difficult.
With the size of convention centers (ours is 262,000 sq. ft.!), it’s easy to consume an exorbitant amount of utilities. Besides our recycling and green purchasing, our sustainability efforts at Overland Park Convention Center prioritize energy efficiency and resource conservation to combat waste.
DID YOU KNOW?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food waste is estimated to be between 30 and 40% of the entire food supply. This number is staggering when you consider the amount of food not going to those who need it, and how much that contributes to waste in other areas like processing, preparation, transportation, and more.
Our sustainability strategy and initiatives at Overland Park Convention Center are mainly focused on tackling the issues of food waste and other forms of waste.
Our Sustainability Initiatives
We prioritize four interrelated sustainable development initiatives. Learn more details on how we are taking steps for each initiative below.
RECYCLING · FOOD & NON-FOOD COMPOSTING
OPCC upgraded all back of house and administrative trash and recycle areas with color-identified containers to expand our recycling efforts. We have recycling containers for glass, compost, paper, plastics, aluminum, waste and batteries.
All of our departments also practice e-recycling, and our culinary team continues to donate unserved prepared food and reclaim and recycle fryer oil.
What HAPPENS TO FOOD WASTE?
One of the largest issues in the hospitality industry is food waste. The Overland Park Convention Center is enrolled in the Food Residual Environmental Diversion Program (FRED). The goal of FRED is to reduce the amount of food waste going into local landfills and recycle valuable organic resources.
This program provides valuable tools for our food composting efforts, such as waste audits, training and education around venue-specific needs. We ensure food waste is recovered and recycled efficiently; food waste is picked up as needed and taken to a recycling center for composting.
- Food Scraps
- Meat, Poultry, Fish
- Shellfish & Bones
- Egg & Dairy Products
- Table Scraps & Plate Scraping
- Fruit & Vegetables
- Bread, Dough, Pasta, Grains
What else does FRED compost?
Along with food items, we take part in the FRED program compost collection. This part of the program takes the following items:
- Coffee Grounds, Filters, & Tea Bags
- Food Soiled Paper
- Kitchen Paper Towels
- Uncoated Paper Take-Out Containers
- Pizza Delivery Boxes
- Paper Napkins
- Restroom Tissues & Paper Towels
- Waxed Cardboard & Paper
- Uncoated Paper Cups & Plates
- Milks & Juice Cartons
- Plant & Wood Scraps
- Plants & Flowers (No flower pots)
- Landscape Vegetation (less than 4’ long 4” diam.)
FOOD · PRODUCTS
Our purchasing power as an eco-friendly event venue can make a large impact. We take several steps to ensure green purchasing as a part of our sustainability efforts.
Food & Beverage
Our food and beverage department prioritizes purchasing locally grown and baked products. We also offer vegetarian meal selections, as this type of food consumes less land base and less energy for production.
To ease the waste of one-use dinnerware, we purchase compostable dinnerware (plates, bowls, and cutlery) and recycled cups and napkins for disposable items.
Our staff uses green cleaning methods and eco-friendly products. We designed these procedures to preserve human health and environmental quality.
One of the most common eco-friendly cleaning ingredients is Aqueous Ozone. This is an EPA and FDA-approved, 1–% natural cleaner made of oxygen atoms, oxygen molecules and water molecules. The combination creates a cleaning agent that naturally breaks down dirt, grease, and other contaminants as effectively as toxic cleaning products.
Our paper towels are USDA Certified Biobased paper towels. They contain 40% or more post-consumer recycled fiber to meet EPA Comprehensive Procurement guidelines.
They are Sustainable Forestry Initiative® certified to ensure fibers are from responsible, legal sources.
Our hand soap is green seal compliant in all restrooms throughout our venue.
HVAC · LIGHTING · ROOFING
Energy Conservation Program
After an investment grade audit in 2017, we selected 3 projects for our energy conservation program and put $2 million toward the initiative:
- Update and expand building automation system
- Replace cooling tower
- Retrofit existing lighting system
Retrofitting lighting resulted in a 15% reduction in overall utility costs.
Becoming more energy efficient
Complete Lighting Replacement
While yearly retrofitting was an important first step in energy efficiency, our next lighting project is a complete replacement to make a large step towards a more eco-friendly event venue. This complete venue lighting fixture replacement will require less electricity, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and leading to significant annual savings.
Becoming more energy efficient
Our current roof R-value (insulation value) is R17; this value will nearly double with our new roofing system. This will have a large impact on energy efficiency and cost. The Thermoplastic Polyolefins membrane of the new roof is also 100% recyclable.
PEOPLE · UTILITIES
Our final goal in creating an eco-friendly event venue is resource conservation internally.
HOW ARE WE CULTIVATING CHange?
Our team is constantly working to reduce our carbon footprint—no matter how big or small. We communicate with employees to cultivate a sustainable environment with mindful energy and resource usage.
Our team created lighting conservation policies with guidelines for both our staff and exhibitors; these guidelines cover the many contexts of the convention center and also encompass use of heating and cooling.
Additional Resource Conservation
Water is saved by using low-flow, automatic faucets and water efficient toilets in all restrooms
PAPER TOWEL & SOAP DISPENSERS
Automatic dispensers are used in all bathrooms to reduce paper and product waste
Occupancy Light Sensors
Automatic light sensors are used in all restrooms, storage closets and hallways
Why have an event at a sustainable convention center?
Conventions, expos, and other large events can create a lot of waste with the amount of people using facilities, eating, and enjoying their time at the event. Having your event at a sustainable convention center that takes steps to alleviate waste and create an eco-friendly event venue is a great way to take part in caring for the environment.
You can feel more at ease with the resources used for your event at a sustainable convention center that works to improve food waste, energy efficiency, and resource conservation.
What differences can I expect as an event organizer or attendee?
When having or attending an event at an eco-friendly venue, there are a few differences to expect. For event organizers, exhibitors, and anyone else helping put on the event, we have resource conservation protocols for lighting, heating, and cooling. These guidelines vary on move-in, move-out, and event days, and they aim to create energy efficiency.
As an attendee, you can expect several more sustainable items throughout the venue such as:
- Automatic paper towel and soap dispensers
- Eco-friendly paper towels and soap
- Low-flow, automatic faucets and water-efficient toilets
How can events be more environmentally friendly?
There are many ways for events to be more environmentally friendly, including minimizing food waste, improving resource conservation, and increasing energy efficiency.
One of the best ways to lessen food waste is donating unserved, prepared food to ensure it is eaten. If food cannot be donated, food composting is the next opportunity to reduce waste. The Overland Park Convention Center is enrolled in the Food Residual Environment Diversion program. This program gives us many resources to reduce event food waste and picks up food waste to take to a recycling center for composting.
With large event venues, it’s also important to be aware of excess energy consumption. We employ resource conservation guidelines to keep lighting, heating, and cooling usage down and promote cost efficiency waste reduction.
Other items in an eco-friendly event venue can help it be more sustainable, like energy efficient lighting, water-conserving plumbing, automatic soap and paper towel dispensers, occupancy light sensors, and green purchases like compostable dinnerware.
Is the Overland Park Convention Center LEED certified?
No. We are not seeking LEED certification because LEED for existing buildings is not currently in the city’s financial plan.
What types of events can be more sustainable?
Whether you’re hosting a gala, exhibition, expo, corporate event, wedding, or other type of event, any type of event has opportunities to be more sustainable!
Accounting for food waste, recycling, resource conservation, green purchasing, and many other strategies can help your event be more eco-friendly. The Overland Park Convention Center is proud to help our clients have more eco-friendly events through our sustainability efforts.