Hagerty Center to become ‘Green Venue’ in June

Only a handful of facilities statewide have earned certification

TRAVERSE CITY – It all started with garbage. Between the events and conferences it hosted and what was generated by Lobdell's restaurant, the Hagerty Center quite simply made too much of it. So Nate Glidden, executive director of Hagerty Center, and his team decided it was time to take action and engage in a more purposeful waste management system.

That system was the spark that's resulted in an estimated 70 percent reduction in waste at Hagerty Center – waste that would otherwise go into our local landfills. It's also what initiated the Center's latest initiative: being one of just a handful of venues in Michigan to be certified by the state as a Green Venues Michigan facility.

The certification program is designed to encourage and assist meeting and convention centers, entertainment venues and similar facilities – some of which can see thousands of attendees in just one day – to adopt environmentally-sensitive practices so as to help conserve our natural resources and prevent pollution.

Modeled after the state's Green Lodging Michigan program, Green Venues Michigan was created by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, & Economic Growth and is administered by the Bureau of Energy Systems. Certification involves a three-step process, the first of which is to submit an application that provides to the state basic information on the facility. Next, venues must complete and submit the Self-Assessment Checklist, where they report on their participation in green practices in areas of energy efficiency, water conservation, air quality, solid waste reduction, environmental purchasing and education. Finally, applicants go through a site visit by a Bureau of Energy representative to verify the checklist accurately represents a facility's green efforts.

The Hagerty Center is applying for certification within the Steward Level of the Green Venues Michigan program – the second highest level – and expects to be honored with this distinction in June. To Glidden's knowledge, there are only 10 or 12 other facilities in the state that bear this certification, and no others within the region currently.

"This certification is important to us because it validates what we were already doing," says Glidden, referring in particular to the full-scale recycling and composting system the Hagerty Center has had in place for a while, and the initiative of which he is most proud.

Located on NMC's Great Lakes Campus, Hagerty Center hosts events every day including conferences, trade shows, weddings and banquets. Waste can really add up in the blink of an eye, in some cases.

To combat the growing waste problem, the Hagerty Center enlisted the help of Andy Gale of Bay Area Recycling for Charities, who educated the Center as to what is recyclable and compostable, and what is not. It wasn't long before a full-scale recycling and composting program was in place.

"Andy went through our service area and really taught us a lot about what can and what cannot be recycled and composted, says Glidden. "Now, anything that can be recycled, we're recycling." They're also composting to the tune of 1,100 pounds of compostable waste each week. "And that's during our slow season," Glidden adds.

Once certified, Hagerty Center will be able to use the Green Venues Michigan name and logo in marketing the facility to prospective clients, informing them of the Center's environmental commitment. But for Glidden it actually goes beyond that, weaving it back into the mission of NMC. "Part of the college's vision is to strive to positively impact the quality of life and the economy of our region, says Glidden. "This is where the Hagerty Center can contribute to NMC's vision.

"Ultimately, we'd like to be able to mentor other facilities in the area," Glidden added. "We'd love to be able to share our knowledge and be some sort of a mentor for others. Education is what NMC is all about." BN