At Mpact, addressing the climate crisis is one of our three main priorities, along with building equitable transit-oriented communities and centering equity and justice.
Our long-term goal for the annual Mpact Transit + Community conference is to make it one of the most sustainable events in the industry. Andrea Ostergaard, our Director of Events, explains that there are a lot of factors to consider when making the conference more green – transportation to and at the conference, hotel stays, food waste, signage, exhibit hall swag, printed guides, and much more.
Here is a recap of some of the “Go Green” steps at the 2023 Mpact Transit + Community conference. Thanks to the Salt River Project for sponsoring these initiatives for 2023!
- Choosing our conference hotel, the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, for its number of sustainable features, from low-flow water fixtures to use of Green-Seal certified cleaning products, from solar louvres on the south side of the building to a rooftop seasonal herb garden.
- Selecting a conference location that is on transit and near destinations accessible by walking, biking and rolling.
- Contracting with companies who use green materials and practices. For example, our decorator for this year’s conference, Heritage, integrates sustainable practices and partnerships in their work, including transporting materials using high-efficiency fleets, partnering with local labor unions to reduce overall travel and thus carbon footprint, and selecting durable rental furniture to reduce landfill impact.
- Providing biodegradable badges for the conference as well as compostable plates, napkins and cups at the Welcome Reception and PK Slam.
- Using water dispensers and glasses in meeting rooms and at breaks, leading to fewer plastic water bottles in the trash.
- Donating leftover food from Mpact events to local food banks. This year, food will be donated to Waste Not of Arizona via the hotel.
- Printing conference signs on 100% recyclable substrates.
- Pairing our conference guide with our mobile app to reduce overall paper usage.
All In This Together
“It takes all of us – attendees and staff – to make the conference more sustainable,” says Andrea. “Attendees may have to get used to new systems, like relying more on our mobile app than the paper guide.”
As an organization, we will continue to identify areas where we can reduce our impact on the planet. For example, a reality of the conference is that hundreds of people travel to our event by plane which has a much greater carbon footprint compared to other modes. In the future, we hope to explore ways to offset these emissions. We also, when available, provide alternate travel options for attendees, such as by Amtrak.
The Big Picture
Our efforts at the conference are just one piece of a much larger puzzle.
We’re all working to build places to live, work and play that are connected by transit, walking, biking or sharing. Transit-friendly neighborhoods generate much lower emissions: the average trip length is 4.4 miles versus 9.1 miles in non-walkable, auto-oriented communities. Denser, more climate-friendly neighborhoods also create huge infrastructure efficiencies. It’s four times cheaper to connect broadband networks, while stormwater runoff (a critical climate challenge) is 74% lower in walkable neighborhoods.
At Mpact Transit + Community, all our sessions are moving us toward a greater understanding of equity and sustainability, as essential elements of communities that really work for everyone. If you’re joining us this year, equip yourself with climate response strategies and consider attending one of our climate-focused sessions:
- Ice and Fire: Landscapes for Climate Resilience
- Is the Sky Falling? A Peer Discussion on Climate Disruption
- The ZEV Opportunity: Equitable Pathways to Zero-Emission Deployments
- Microgrids: More Than Powering Buses
The Mpact Transit + Community conference goes deep into what it takes to build communities that are more sustainable and equitable. Combining transportation, land use and development is hard work. It takes going against norms, being willing to pioneer new approaches and looking for collaborators in unusual places. Join us in Phoenix to dig in. Also check out Mpact Podcast episodes focused on climate, including:
- Episode 73: Older Adults and Climate Emergencies, with Danielle Arigoni
- Episode 67: Building Statewide Wins for Climate and Housing, with Alex Brennan
- Episode 52: Climate Friendly Neighborhoods, with Adie Tomer
- Episode 29: Resiliency in South Florida, with Jim Murley
Got a great idea to make the conference more sustainable? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.