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July 26, 2010

As Green as the Bluegrass

National organization and state legislators from across the country take steps to use more renewable energy and recyclable materials at meeting in Louisville

LOUISVILE, KY. — Reducing the use of paper, encouraging recycling, using biodegradable materials and utilizing renewable energy certificates. These are some of the steps the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has taken to minimize its environmental impact during its 36th annual Legislative Summit in Louisville, Ky.

About 4,500 legislators, legislative staff and business professionals will gather at the Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) for NCSL's Legislative Summit, July 25-28. More than 150 sessions will address an array of timely topics, including renewable energy, sustainability and climate change. The Energy Policy Summit on Sunday, July 25, gave legislators an opportunity to learn about the challenges they may face as they develop energy policies that promote vibrant economies and healthy, sustainable environments. Other policy sessions at the three-day meeting focus on state finances, pension plans, immigration and health care.

"NCSL has been dedicated to increasing the amount of green resources we use at each meeting since 2006,” said William T. Pound, NCSL’s executive director.

NCSL's green initiatives include using a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified printer for the summit’s brochure and marketing materials, using Microsoft’s electronic Tag system to establish a paperless newsroom for reporters onsite, producing digital kits for distributors at the summit and purchasing carpet made from recycled materials for use throughout the convention center.

Several companies are helping NCSL host a greener meeting. Constellation NewEnergy, a subsidiary of Constellation Energy based in Baltimore, is working with the KICC to match electricity that NCSL uses during the conference with Green-e certified renewable energy certificates (RECs). The company has provided RECs to the Legislative Summit for several years as part of NCSL’s overall greening efforts.  RECs represent the clean-air benefits from electricity generated from wind, solar or other renewable power facilities, and help support the development of sources of clean, renewable energy.

“State legislatures nationwide play a critical role in the expansion of sources of clean, emission-free, renewable energy," said Michael Smith, senior vice president of green initiatives for Constellation NewEnergy. “NCSL’s continuing use of renewable energy certificates from Constellation NewEnergy serves to highlight the importance of renewable energy in meeting our collective sustainability goals.”

The KICC is committed to reducing the environmental impact of its operations and services by providing waste reduction and recycling and water stations in public areas. 

The American Beverage Association, the trade group representing the broad spectrum of companies that manufacture and distribute nonalcoholic beverages, will provide recycling bins at the KICC throughout the Legislative Summit and at the Walk for Wellness on Tuesday, July 27.

"Through efforts such as this, we want to help “think inside the bin,” and bring their beverage containers full circle, helping to further reduce our environmental impact one can or bottle at a time," said Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association.

This is the fifth year NCSL has taken steps to make its Legislative Summit more environmentally friendly. In 2006, NCSL began a five-year effort to adopt green meeting standards for its Legislative Summit held in different cities across the country. In 2011, NCSL will host its meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.