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Step up to sustainability

by EN

AEV director Rachel Parker helps to deliver a strong sustainability programme.

Industrial sustainability means having the means to define, measure and score the sustainability goals and pledges we need to meet if we are to make an impact on global climate targets. The urgency of the situation is clear on both local and global scales, and the event industry is no exception.

Early last year, at a meeting of the cross-association Sustainability Working Group, the chair and vice-chair, Martin Cottrell (A1 Event & Exhibition Cleaners Ltd)  and Lucille Ryan (Informa plc), respectively, led the discussion on what the industry’s long- and short-term sustainability goals should be, and what gradually emerged over the year was a series of workshops with MICE Machine culminating in an ambitious programme to define up to twelve achievable, key commitments for event industry businesses.

Thanks to Olympia London’s presence on the working group, we were introduced to The MICE Machine, who had previously helped the venue devise and deliver its successful, staff-led sustainability programme, ‘The Grand Plan’. We are tremendously grateful to Olympia London for enabling the working group to pioneer this programme. It’s telling that Olympia London was the first British venue to be ISO 20121 certified and indeed, was instrumental in the creation of the international standard itself.

Following a second workshop in August 2019, we provided our members with this framework enabling them to work towards these commitments within two years, which will include specific eGuide content, templates, guidance documentation, and sharing best practice through the working group. Initially, it will be members of the working group that will adopt them, which will be periodically reviewed for progress, and assistance given where possible. We will be launching the programme to the wider membership in Spring.

The reality is that many of our venue members have already fulfilled a number of the commitments through their own, existing sustainability strategies and initiatives, ISO compliance and partnerships with local communities – and it’s these examples of great practice we need to share widely and ensure these achievements are sustained.

Manchester Central has achieved 70 per cent LED lighting throughout the venue as part of a complete replacement programme, which has already led to a 40 per cent reduction in power consumption in the offices alone. SEC capex programme sees continual improvements to the campus through replacement of heating, ventilation and AC equipment on site to achieve energy efficiencies and reduction in resources. They are also repurposing old furniture and reupholstering with sustainable fabrics. The SEC has also engaged a specialist consultant to help identify areas that we can drive sustainability on our campus. Telford International Centre’s success with free water refilling points, zero waste to landfill, and food miles monitoring, has led to a Green Tourism Award, Silver Class and ambitious plans for EV charging points, plant-based menu options and much more.

The Business Design Centre has held its carbon neutral certification for 10 years and uses only renewable energy to power the building. Its aggressive recycling and reuse policy has led to near-zero waste to landfill.

ExCeL London has reduced its overall energy consumption by 22 per cent and it has a firm commitment to consume 100 per cent renewable energy by Q3 2020. It, too, has adopted free water filling stations, any waste that can’t be recycled is used to create renewable energy, ensuring zero waste to landfill. Menus have changed to include 25 per cent plant-based dishes and a steady reduction in red meat dishes, aiming to cut red meat consumption by 50 per cent by 2021.

All these venues, and many other members, have been leading the way for some time on sustainability matters.

If you are an AEV, AEO or ESSA member and you’d like to get involved in the cross-association Sustainability Group, please get in touch.

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