Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Volunteer training at Greenbuild 2010

The thought of volunteering at the USGBC's Greenbuild came to me while I was at the Foresight Sustainability Career Seminar I attended about a month ago in the Haworth Room at the Merchandise Mart. Peter Nicholson, head of the seminar and Foresight Design Initiative, recommended to get involved in the sustainability world as much as possible-and what better way to do that than to attend the Greenbuild Expo for free!

From the website:
Greenbuild is the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building.Thousands of building professionals from all over the world come together at Greenbuild for three days of outstanding educational sessions, renowned speakers, green building tours, special seminars, and networking events.
After signing up for two four hour shifts, I had to attend a training last night from 7:30-8:30 pm. First off, when checking in, volunteers receive a free t-shirt they must wear during volunteering hours and a very cool shoulder bag filled with information on Greenbuild and it's events!

A little background information was brought to our attention at first. This is the second time Greenbuild has been held in Chicago's McCormick Place-2007 and 2010. On it's 8th year running, Chicago's McCormick Place has a legend to live up to or, as hopefully planned, succeed. Pre-Greenbuild 2007, the McCormick Place had only recycled a mere 3% of its waste. Over the course of Greenbuild, they made a complete turn around and recycled 91% of its waste. That blew my mind!

Greenbuild 2007 remains the one expo that had the lowest percentage of non-recyclable waste. To make that possible, volunteers like me sign-up to hold duties of floaters and recycling attendants. Being an all day event, people are enjoying food and beverages all day, amongst other waste, and walking up to a four sectioned "garbage" can be a little intimidating. Volunteers, wearing an orange t-shirt with a question mark on the front, are there to help the attendees place their items into the correct stream.

The four streams are paper, plastic, compost, and landfill. Paper is pretty self-explanatory. Plastic get more complicated with the numbering system it has. Plastics with a number 6 must go to the landfill and number 7 plastics can be composted. The rest can be placed into the plastic stream. Plastic-looking items such as straws and hot cup lids cannot be recycled and must also go to the landfill stream. Composting is also a little complex because of the different types known and different non-organic materials allowed. Along with all food materials (raw and cooked meat, dairy, cheese, vegetables... etc), napkins, straw wrappers, and Starbucks hot cups can also be placed into the compost bin. The landfill stream consists of chip bags, candy wrapper, napkins used for blowing noses, wooden and plastic stirrer sticks, etc..

When looking at emissions, the team looked outside the McCormick place to take into account the attendees traveling from all around the world. The emission of that alone are enormous, so to do their part the Greenbuild team cut down on printing, used all post-consumer recycled carpeting, procured local, organic food, and asked hotels to promote re-use linens and recycle to guests. The site has tips for visitors on how to be efficient when staying in hotels in Chicago and commuting to the expo.

As I walked to the volunteer training room, I passed the main exhibit hall filled with people and exhibitors. I am looking forward to my post about my volunteering experience! If you are unable to attend, the website is full of information!

No comments: