Oceandiva London: UK’s first CO2-neutral venue on water

EN visits the Cheesegrater skyscraper to hear about Oceandiva London – a new multi-purpose event vessel that will revolutionise the events industry

“Why travel to the venue, when the venue can come to you?” asks Smart Group CEO Greg Lawson at a recent press briefing for the launch of Oceandiva London. 

Gathered on the 42nd floor of the Leadenhall Building, the venue’s representatives and members of the events industry overlook the stunning views of the River Thames, where in just a few months the vessel will be used for the first time, hosting up to 1,500 guests standing and 600 seated for exhibitions.

Following six years of planning and a joint investment of over £25m, the vessel, developed by Smart Group and Amsterdam-based company Oceandiva, will be the largest floating events space on the river measuring 86m in length and 17m in breadth, spanning three decks.

Described as the UK’s first CO2-neutral venue on the Thames, the 2,625sqm vessel will also be used for events such as conferences, receptions, gala dinners, product launches and brand activations. 

Once launched in the autumn, it will pick up guests from London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Greenwich and ExCeL London, with scope to use more of the capital’s destinations in the future. 

“Oceandiva is leading the way to a net zero future for the events industry,” says Lawson. 

“The project is the first of its kind in the world and where better to launch it than the world beating city of London.

“The journey started with an ambition to create a multi-purpose event venue on the Thames – and after listening to stakeholders reflecting and adapting to the challenges of the modern era, sustainability needs to be at the core of everything that we do.

“I strongly believe that Oceandiva London will be the catalyst to develop the green future.”

Speaking about the vessel’s sustainable credentials and how Smart Group aims to become net zero by 2030, the company’s managing director Chloe Jackson says: “She’ll be powered by 100% renewable energy, relying on fast charging shore based green electricity. This is further supported by onboard solar panels and a backup biofuel generator for any longer excursions.

“We have installed an advanced Airflow heat recovery onboard cooling system, which is regulated with the temperature of the Thames and results in a 60% power reduction.

“We intend to collaborate with clients help them to make informed choices surrounding their events and how they can best balance their carbon emissions.”

Jackson adds: “Our chefs already use the most local and seasonal produce throughout their menu and we will continue to reduce food miles wherever possible and ensure clients are making educated and informed decisions on their menu choices.”

Working with industry body Isla, Oceandiva London will reduce its carbon footprint for each event held on board by tracking and measuring from the planning stage through to the event’s execution. Smart Group will also be working with longtime production partners Encore, which Jackson says shares the company’s desire to “make each and every event as sustainable possible from the very outset”.

Tom Ring, director production venues at Encore, says: “We have invested more than £1m in permanently installed production equipment to provide high impact events with a low impact on the environment. We’re installing 130 lights to provide state of the art production for award shows and celebrations, 28 speakers to provide a distributing sound system around the ship to make sure the sound is in the areas that matter the most, and 54sqm of ultra-high resolution LED screen to provide a stunning backdrop.”

Designed, built and owned by Oceandiva, which was founded by Edwin Petersen in 2003 in the Netherlands, the vessel will be the first London venture outside of mainland Europe by the group already established in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The trading company of Oceandiva London will be owned, managed and operated by Smart Group, which owns Evolution London and delivers sporting and cultural events such as Royal Ascot Village and Lord’s.

The Anglo-Dutch partnership will see the ship will catered by Smart Group’s own catering brand, Moving Venue, which operates at more than 50 venues including Historic Royal Palaces and the Natural History Museum. Moving Venue will work in partnership with catering company Last Supper, which was recently acquired by Smart Group.

Tracey Halliwell, director of tourism, conventions and major events, at London & Partners, says: “Meeting planners are always looking for something new, unique, unusual – and even more so, they’re looking for something green. Our hope is that Oceandiva can tick all those boxes.”

Oceandiva CEO Edwin Petersen adds: “Our plan is to create a new market on the river, which will help London to keep their position as number one event city in Europe.”

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