Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau: Marketing Durham Sustainably

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dcvbThe Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) is the marketing agency for Durham, North Carolina.  The DCVB uses a proactive, strategic, visitor-centered approach to the economic and cultural development of Durham.  It prides itself on balancing and integrating the interests of visitors, service providers and the community, and has successfully developed Durham as a destination by expanding services and activities in the community to attract more visitors.  The DCVB is dedicated to transforming Durham into a more socially responsible, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable community.

The DCVB has built into its foundation and culture strong social and environmental standards which each employee works to uphold.  It was actively implementing environmental initiatives early on with the launch of its recycling program in 1992.  Here are some examples of what the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau has done to promote sustainability:

  • Installed more efficient HVAC system with zoning that is computer-controlled which has improved quality of life for staff and reduced energy bills, and has set  HVAC to automatically shut off at 5 PM
  • Installed a cistern to collect rainwater from the roof to irrigate the grounds around DCVB
  • Installed automatic sensor lights throughout the office
  • Regular staff meetings consider all employee suggestions on how to improve operations (ex. Paperless payroll, scanning records into electronic database, taping dishwasher shut to conserve water)
  • Uses biodegradable cups and cutlery and encourages the use of mugs instead of disposable cups
  • Participates in Staples Ink Cartridge Recycling Program
  • Offers and encourages continual education and training to employees
  • Donates leftover food from meetings and donates used equipment to non-profit organizations
  • Reduces paper use by sharing information at meetings using computer links and twitter, instead of handouts
  • Purchases eco-friendly cleaning products
  • Installed solar tubes in visitor center and installed skylights to capture natural light
  • Set up a battery recycling center in the office
  • All printers are set to automatically print double-sided
  • Uses solar lights to illuminate the sign in front of the Bureau at night
  • Installed automatic sinks in the bathroom and provides hand sanitizer to reduce water use
  • Each employee has a recycling bin and the DCVB has an extremely organized recycling system and has bi-weekly pickup of waste to decrease energy and costs

Here is what Shelly Green, CEO and President, from the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau had to say about their experience with Green Plus:

What inspired you to join Green Plus?

DCVB has always focused on best practices to include being good stewards of the environment.  What was unique about Green Plus was that the assessment was broad and focused on all areas of an organization.  Our interest in Green Plus was to obtain an assessment of our organization and operations so that we could learn more and to continue making improvements.

Green Initiatives are increasingly important to our customers, particularly in the meetings and conventions sector. It is also our desire to apply what we have learned and assist hotels and meeting facilities in adopting policies and practices that are more sustainable.

What were some easy changes you were able to make to improve your sustainability?

We have incorporated green initiatives throughout our organization for many years. For instance, as we improved our facility, we included a more efficient HVAC and zoning system, energy smart lighting both interior and exterior, natural light sky tubes and the like.

What resources were most helpful to you in making these changes?

Best practices from APEX, the Accepted Practices Exchange which is an initiative of the Convention Industry Council, as well as a Go Green Energy Audit conducted for DCVB several years ago.

Would you recommend this program to other businesses?

Yes, it was very thorough and helped us consider areas that we had not considered.

Do you plan to make additional modifications to become even more sustainable, even though you are already certified?

Yes, we will consider hybrid vehicles and ask more questions to our vendors about their green policies. We will be using printing equipment that will accommodate recycled paper more efficiently.  In addition we will be inventorying visitor-related businesses in Durham and reporting out their adherence to sustainable practices to assist visitors in selecting facilities in such publications as the Official Durham Visitor Guide, the Official Durham Meeting and Event Planning Guide and the www.durham-nc.com website.

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