This guide is aimed at event planners who want their event to be as environmentally responsible as possible. It has been produced in line with BS8901, a British standard for sustainable event management. If you require any more assistance on how to make your event more sustainable then please contact any member of the 15Hatfields green team on 020 7827 5920.
Is the event necessary in the first place?
If your event is only for a small number of people, or only needs to be a short meeting – an alternative option is to conduct the meeting via video conferencing or webcasting. You may still need to use the AV equipment at a venue but it is usually very reasonably priced and certainly cheaper than paying for 100 delegates for the day. Webcasting can effectively transmit your message to a potentially limitless number of people. The video conferencing suite at 15Hatfields can connect up to four different callers with the capability to share presentation and video worldwide.
Does the venue have a clear and dedicated environmental commitment?
When venue searching, try to find a venue with a clear and dedicated environmental commitment. Obviously, some events are entirely necessary, and require delegates to be in one place at the same time. When choosing an external venue for your event, it’s important to consider how sustainable their practices are. The only way to really know if a venue is truly sustainable is to confirm whether they are accredited or not. If a venue has been awarded an accreditation it gives the organiser piece of mind that a third party has conducted a review or inspection of the premises – and carried out a full audit of the principals and practices the organisation has committed to. In other words, it helps dispel the myth of what is called Green-Washing. This is when a company claims to have an environmental policy through advertising campaigns and press, yet does very little to actually contribute to sustainability.
The main accreditation to look out for include ISO14001 – the ISO 14000 family of standards provides practical tools for companies and organisations of all kinds looking to manage their environmental responsibilities. Any BSI British Standard accreditation related to sustainable event management such as Bsi 8901:2007 is also good. A gold Green Tourism Award is also well regarded, and is the largest sustainable certification programme of its kind.
Can you make the event paperless?
This isn’t as hard to achieve as you might imagine. Most venues will offer notepads and pens as part of their DDR package, you could think about using plasmas and projectors to display branding, instead of posters. Send out invites via email, promote online, send delegate packs via email including name badges and ask delegates to only print off what they need. Small changes like this ensure that paper waste is kept to a minimum.
It’s also worth mentioning that venues with complimentary Wi-Fi make it very easy to bring up schedules, timings and event information on delegate’s smart phones. If the use of paper items is unavoidable, then make sure there are plenty of recycling bins dotted around the venue for waste paper.
So you’ve decided your event can’t happen in your office, and can’t take place via video link. You’ve chosen a sustainable venue with accreditation and sent out invites using a paperless system. The next tip is provide your delegates with directions to the venue – putting an emphasis on public transport and especially walking. It is a good idea to include walking directions to your venue of choice, sometimes delegates will not realise how close things are in London.
For example walking between 15Hatfields and Covent Garden takes just 20 mins – a journey that could easily take that long in a cab at rush hour! The location of your venue can also be chosen based on where most of your delegates are coming from. If they’re mostly international, then choose a venue close to a main airport or railway station rather than a countryside venue, for example.
Make sure your catering is sustainable
Sustainable catering is an extremely important factor to consider when planning your event. There are many different ways in which catering can be sustainable – ask your caterer these questions if you want to find out how sustainable they are:
- Is the food locally sourced? This decreases transport times, costs and pollution.
- Is the food organic? Fewer, if any, pesticides used.
- Is a healthy percentage of the food vegetarian? Reduced fish and meat consumption is linked to reduced carbon footprint.
- Is the food ethically produced and Fairtrade? Have the farmers been paid fairly, are they working under fair conditions.
Food waste is also something to consider. The easiest way to plan for this is to ensure that excess food is limited. If your numbers suddenly reduce by 30 the day before the event it is definitely worthwhile notifying your caterers. Most caterers will allow changes up to 24 hours before delivery time, and even up to hours before if they aren’t significant changes. It is also worth considering the demographic of your audience when ordering catering.
Ensure your chosen venue has a water management system in place. Avoid venues that give out plastic bottles water and favour those who offer tap water, or bottle their water onsite. Since introducing our onsite bottled water system 15Hatfields has saved over 2 million plastic bottles from going to landfill. It is also a good idea to liaise with the venue pre-event about how strict they are on recycling – if they have no regulations in place, then consider employing a company to come and pick up the waste after the event, especially for outdoors events.
By making an extra effort to make your event more sustainable, you are sending out a very positive message to your delegates and competitors of your intentions. You are also doing your bit to raise awareness. Lastly, each event that you run is an opportunity to promote sustainability to participants, organisers, exhibitors and service providers.