In my last blog post, I spoke about how the exhibition industry is looking for ways to act "sustainably." Part 2 of this blog series is about green venues, and presents some trends we can observe in convention and exhibition centers.
While environmental concerns are a central aspect of green events, social benefits likewise play an important role in sustainable event management. Conference centers in particular have a massive responsibility towards their local communities. By cooperating with local companies and acting socially responsible, they can set a good example in their community and promote environmental and social improvements.
Minimizing a venue’s ecological footprint
At this year’s IMEX in Frankfurt, the University of Cornell presented the findings of their recent study, “An Exploratory Study of Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Events Industry.” The results showed that US venues seem way ahead of their European counterparts when it comes to adopting sustainable practices, for example, by donating unused food and items or by using biodegradable dishes.
At the same time, we see a lot of sustainable ideas being put into practice in European venues. Austria’s largest conference center, the Austria Center Vienna, has implemented a wide range of measures in order to reduce the environmental impact of their activities. The venue managed to save saved around 9,000 tons of CO2 a year by implementing district heating. The savings between 2009 and 2013 amounted to more than 45,000 tons of greenhouse gas which is equal to the emissions of around 11,000 single-family homes.
Think smart, think green
After all, acting sustainably is a big reputation booster for any business. There are a number of certificates event professionals can achieve to meet certain standards and let the world know, “I act sustainably!”
With the introduction of the Management System Standard ISO 20121 in 2012, event professionals have been presented a list of ISO-requirements for sustainable event management. Recommendations include relying on tap water instead of plastic bottles or encouraging the use of public transport.
With more industry standards being set in the future and investors actively demanding sustainable actions, everyone in the industry has to think about how to reduce their ecological footprint and contribute to saving the planet we live on.