We only get one Earth, so we should take care of it while we can!
Some businesses treat the environment and sustainability as an afterthought, but at Overland Park Convention Center, we believe that conservation should be a priority.
Over the years, we’ve implemented a variety of changes to make the Overland Park Convention Center as environmentally friendly as possible. From the lights to the cleaning materials to the dinner utensils, we’ve worked to mitigate any environmental damage. Now, we want to show you how we did it. Read on, and learn about why we believe a sustainability program for event venues is an absolute must-have within your facility.
Overland Park Convention Center
Before we tell you about how important it is to have a sustainability program for event venues, let us tell you a little more about ourselves. We’re the Overland Park Convention Center, a top-rated small to midsize convention center for events of all kinds.
A party or celebration is nothing without a quality venue. We host corporate meetings, , trade shows, galas, banquets, conventions, and more.
If you think your event could benefit from a versatile venue, then reach out to us. We work to make the event-planning process as easy as possible for event planners. We have food options, complimentary parking and Wi-Fi, sensory inclusive events, and many other amenities that can’t be found anywhere else.
Awards and Recognition
We’re extremely proud of the work we do, and we’re thrilled that other people seem to agree.
We’ve been recognized by EXHIBITOR Magazine, an industry-leading publication. They’ve awarded us “Best Small Convention Center in North America” in 2020, 2022, and 2023. We couldn’t be more flattered.
We’ve also been included in their list of Centers of Excellence in North America (top 25 convention centers in North America) from 2020 to 2024! Hearing that other people appreciate the work we do is what keeps us going. Customer satisfaction drives every decision we make.
Though, EXHIBITOR isn’t the only one to recognize our work, take a look at our awards for customer service, marketing and publicity, and more.
Now, let’s get into a little more about our sustainability program for event venues. We’ve been working hard to keep Overland Park Convention Center as green as possible, and we felt that it was important to pass on our tips and tricks for environmental sustainability.
Running a green convention center isn’t always easy; it requires careful planning and lots of help, but there are more resources than ever. We’d like to be a resource, too.
We’ve learned a thing or two over the years, so let us pass those tips on to you and your event venue. Once you take the steps to turn your business green, you’ll never look back!
Communicate with Your Guests
You don’t have to do all of the work yourself or keep it hidden behind the scenes. Be open with your guests about your sustainability efforts.
Be sure to clearly label your recycling bins so they know exactly where to put their unfinished food. People want to help the environment, but it’s not always clear exactly how they can do that.
We’ve updated all of our recycling bins so they clearly communicate which refuse to place in which bin. Color coding the waste baskets makes things easy. We have different bins in our convention center for glass, compost, paper, plastics, aluminum and waste.
These also make it easier for you or any sustainability partners in the future. You won’t have to sort through all the waste yourself. You can easily take the necessary materials to a recycling center for proper disposal.
You can make sustainability easy by fostering a clear and open dialogue with your guests.
Mitigating Food Waste
One of our biggest priorities has been eliminating waste, particularly food waste.
Food waste is a real crisis in America. As surprising as it may be to some, there is enough food to go around, so that no one in the United States needs to go hungry. Unfortunately, our society tends to waste perfectly good food.
Forty-four million US citizens struggle with hunger, and we waste 80 million tons of food every single year. To put that into perspective, that means 38% of all food produced in the US is uneaten.
Because of this, our team at OPCC has worked to eliminate as much food waste as possible.
The Right Order
One of the simplest ways organizations can help reduce food waste is by ordering the right amount of food in the first place. This is an understandable oversight—you don’t want anyone to go hungry at your banquet.
We know plans can change, and attendance numbers can be lower than the guaranteed number, but try to be conservative if you can. If you do end up with excess food, we can reach out to Pete’s Garden, an organization that relocates uneaten meals to people who need them.
Of course, you won’t always be able to accurately predict how much your guests will eat. Sometimes, guests simply aren’t as hungry as you thought, and you’re left with trays of perfectly good food.
But that doesn’t mean it all has to go to the landfill; you can put this half-eaten food to good use with the help of composting.
Composting is a big part of our sustainability program for event venues. Composting is a way to utilize organic material for better soil. When we introduce discarded food to the soil, the soil begins to break it down with the help of microorganisms.
Once the food is broken down, the soil is now better for farming plant growth. This is an all-natural alternative to pesticides and fertilizer, meaning that you won’t be introducing inorganic, harmful chemicals to the environment.
So not only does composting allow you to utilize wasted food, but it also helps the environment flourish.
To aid us in our mission for environmental sustainability, we partnered with FRED. FRED isn’t a person, but instead, an acronym.
FRED stands for the Food Residual Environmental Diversion Program. This is an invaluable program for any event venue or business looking to improve their environmental sustainability.
FRED aims to recycle uneaten food and prevent it from ending up in the trash. If you’re interested in working with FRED, they will come to your business for a free waste audit. They will educate your employees on sustainability, and provide containers for food collection.
They will then pick up any collected food and compost it at our recycling center. FRED takes the guesswork out of recycling.
You don’t have to limit your composting to food, either. FRED also helps us compost non-food items, such as:
- Coffee Grounds & Coffee 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
- Milk and Juice Cartons
- Plant & Wood Scraps
- Plants & Flowers (No flower pots)
- Landscape Vegetation (less than 4′ long 4″diam.)
Sustainability is all about thinking broadly and taking any steps necessary to keep your business green. Always ask yourself what further steps you can take to improve the sustainability of your event venue.
If you need another partner for your sustainability efforts, it’d be hard to do better than Pete’s Garden.
So Pete’s Garden is our first line of defense against food waste. Giving excess meals to those in need. Then leftover food from the meals (whether it be scraps from a meal from an event, or just expired food, etc.) is composted.
“Minimizing food waste is a significant challenge in the hospitality industry, especially in larger venues like ours,” said Jessica Corona, director of food and beverage at the Overland Park Convention Center.
“To tackle this issue, we have implemented a two-pronged approach: first, by donating prepared food to those in need, and second, through food composting as a part of our current sustainability program.
“We are always seeking ways to be more sustainable while also being a people-focused organization—what better way to meet this goal then by serving those in our local community.”
Pete’s Garden is a fantastic organization that helps feed hungry families all over Kansas City. Pete’s Garden has teamed up with different event venues, caterers, and restaurants to ensure that their uneaten food doesn’t go to waste.
Pete’s Garden takes the unserved food and portions it into convenient meals for people to take home to their families. Pete’s Garden makes it easier than ever for businesses like us to give back to the people who need it the most.
While Pete’s Garden is local to Kansas City, there are many other similar programs throughout the United Stated that have similar missions. Do a quick search online or contact your city’s administrator to find an option that works for you.
Sustainable Dinner Utensils
A sustainability program for event venues isn’t just about large, sweeping changes. We believe that you can make a huge difference with the small things, too.
One example of the little ways that we’ve built a greener event venue is through our sustainable dinnerware. While ceramic and glass china is great, washing all of those dishes can waste a lot of water. So we’ve decided to take things in a different direction.
Our dinner utensils and plates are completely compostable. So once our guests are through with their meal, they can simply toss their dinnerware in the recycle bins. Of course, you can also choose to use china if the event calls for it.
Another simple way that we can reduce environmental damage is through green cleaning.
Most people probably don’t view cleaning as a particularly harmful process for the environment, but heavy duty chemicals can certainly cause some problems for the Earth.
This is why we’ve elected to use a natural alternative. Our cleaning agent, Aqueous Ozone, is totally safe, as well as FDA and EPA approved. This cleaner is made of simple, all natural ingredients like oxygen and water molecules.
Some question if this is as effective as other, similar cleaning agents. But when combined, these help break down stubborn contaminants like dirt and grease, without the help of harmful chemicals.
That’s right—even our restrooms are sustainable. One simple way that large event venues amass large amounts of waste is with paper towels.
We wanted to reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill, so we use USDA Certified Biobased paper towels.
These paper towels are designed to meet EPA Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines, meaning that they are comprised of over 40% recycled paper.
This effort doesn’t end with the paper towels, either—our foaming hand soap is also environmentally friendly as well. We use green seal-compliant soap in all of our bathrooms across the venue.
Energy and Resource Conservation
Energy and resource conservation is a big part of a sustainability program for event venues.
Even in a small convention center like ours, we still use lots of energy to cool, heat, and power the entire venue. Event venues need lots of electricity to meet guests’ expectations, but we wanted to see if there was any way we could trim the fat and cut down on our energy consumption.
We had an investment-grade audit performed, and once complete, we decided to take a few important steps to reduce our carbon footprint.
We updated and expanded our building automation system, replaced our cooling tower, and even retrofitted our lighting system. We were able to reduce our utility costs by 15%.
But if you don’t have the time or money to overhaul all of your lighting and power systems, you can still make some other, smaller changes to reduce resource consumption.
One of the methods we used was changing our water faucets to low-flow, automatic faucets. We found that our guests would leave the faucets running for longer than they needed, resulting in massive amounts of water waste.
These faucets eliminate that element. We also installed automatic lights. If the sensors don’t sense somebody in the area, the lights turn off automatically, saving abundant amounts of energy in the process.
Now that you’ve learned more about building a sustainability program for event venues, you may want to read more about what we do. We’ve developed a blog to share tips and resources for all facets of our process at OPCC.
So whether you want to learn more about sustainability or see how we help event planners organize the perfect celebration, we’ve got you covered.
Reach Out Today
We think that sharing tips for environmental stability is an important responsibility. Taking even the smallest steps to help your event venue go green can help the Earth in the long run. If you’d like to learn more about our sustainability efforts, then we’d absolutely love it if you’d reach out.
We’re always available to discuss options for helping the environment, so give us a call or send us an email. Like we said at the beginning, this planet is the only one we have, and we want to do our part in making sure it lasts.