The Leeds Venues and Hotels Association’s sustainability conference offered an insight into how the northern events industry can decarbonise.
Meeting at the Royal Armouries, a sustainability conference offered an insight into how the events industry can come together to meet the global goal of net zero carbon by 2050. The event featured
a variety of knowledgeable speakers covering topics ranging from how using renewable energy can save your business money to how the choice of food we serve can affect our carbon footprint.
First up at the podium was Polly Cook, Chief Officer of Sustainable Energy & Air Quality at Leeds City Council (LCC). She began by outlining that the time to act on climate change is now: “We can’t afford to keep pushing everything into the long grass.”
Polly also emphasised that climate change is never one person or one organisations’ responsibility and that it is only by significant and universal change that we can mitigate the effects of global warming.
Michael Falla, Environments, Social, and Governance Lead of Valour Hospitality, discussed the importance of making sustainable goals within your business, even if the goals might seem ambitious: “It’s important to have these aspirational goals and to have something to strive for. It’s ok to change and adapt.”
He also highlighted the importance of engaging staff in sustainability: “If it’s not your money or impact, it’s easy to care less.” Michael suggested that finding staff who care about one aspect of sustainability, engaging with them, and making them an ambassador of that aspect of your sustainability programme is a good way to encourage staff to be enthusiastic over sticking to any business- wide policies you implement.
The conference also heard from Jo Austin, Sales Director of Lime Venue Portfolio, about catering with sustainable menus: “The food system is broken and we can be a major player to activate change,” Jo stated, starting her presentation with some sobering facts, including that 80% of the original forest that covered the Earth 8,000 years ago has now gone and that 60% of all mammals alive today are livestock.
While Jo advocated for sustainable menus at events, she also acknowledged that quality has to be maintained: “Food has to be tasty. When delegates come to an event, they come for hospitality as well as learning and inspiration. It also needs to be nutritious. While we’re feeding stomachs, we need to be feeding minds and bodies as well. It’s one of our core beliefs that every plate of food has a responsibility to the planet. If we can make sure that’s what we deliver on the plate is between neutral or good for the planet, we know then we are often helping clients achieve their sustainability goals too.”
Finally, Nicholas Challen of HBSL Procurement outlined the importance of reducing energy usage, saving money, and reducing your business’s carbon footprint: “With the price of energy increasing between 300% and 500%, energy costs are going to be something which needs managing.”
Nicholas went on to show that making sustainable changes to your energy solutions can increase your business’s revenue by reducing overheads, improving your brand’s reputation, and increasing sales with the under 40s, particularly as studies show that 71% of 16 to 40-year-olds consider climate change to be the biggest challenge facing their generation.