H&E North speaks to Gillian Rabbett, the Conference Co-ordinator of eco-friendly conference centre Brockholes, about sustainable events and how to ‘go green.’

‘Going green’ and aiming to run sustainable, environmentally-friendly conferences, meetings and tradeshows is still highly topical in the events world. It can be a challenge to find the right balance between eco-friendly, effective and affordable. The demand is high for businesses, brands and venues to reflect the values of delegates, and for corporate social responsibility to be at the forefront of energy saving ideas in the events industry.

Extravagant activities are increasingly making way for a more thoughtful approach, as venues and organisers continue to find new and innovative ways to limit their impact on the environment.

H&E North spoke to Gillian Rabbett, the Conference Co-ordinator of award-winning, eco-friendly conference centre and nature reserve, Brockholes, to find out why many events planners are taking a greener approach.

“We are noticing that event organisers are becoming increasingly interested in sustainable credentials,” she says. “They like to see something which makes a venue different when they are choosing from so many options. Many of our clients, especially those from the public sector have sustainable purchasing policies, so our venue ticks some extra boxes for them.”

Of Brockholes, Gillian continues: “As an eco-venue set in a nature reserve, we are always working to protect the environment and we encourage other businesses to do the same. Other conference venues can also do their bit by having an efficient recycling programme, keeping waste to a minimum, using locally sourced food and suppliers, or by choosing an environmental charity partner like The Wildlife Trusts.

“Event organisers can reduce the carbon footprint of their events,” she continues, “by encouraging guests to car share and signposting local public transport routes, choosing jugs of water instead of bottles and avoiding printing handouts.”

As for how to cement your green credentials as a site, Gillian advises: “Venues need to tell their green story and ensure guests know that by choosing you, they are making an eco-friendly choice and are in the company of people who care. Another way to do this is by gaining an accreditation, such as the Green Tourism award.”

Taking Gillian’s advice into account, H&E North has come up with a checklist of tips that sites and companies, both big and small, can employ to help them take small steps towards running more sustainable events:

• Choose to work with venues that have a good track record in regards to sustainability

• Make sure all the event staff are trained in energy efficiency and usage, making sure lights and heating in particular are switched off when not in use. Why not reward employees that show awareness of energy saving?

• Ensure all staff are similarly aware of recycling procedures and water wastage

• If you are transporting staff into an event venue or expecting a large number of delegates, encourage use of public transport, walking, car-sharing or biking

• Invest in energy saving technology, products and equipment such as LED lighting

• Donate or recycle left over delegate gift bags

• Select an environmental charity partner to work alongside and for seeking advice

• Provide eco-friendly delegate treats and incentives, such as recyclable, sustainable toiletries

• Make sure any clients are aware of your commitment to sustainability when accepting projects

• Source local produce and sustainable suppliers that reside close to the event venue where possible, to cut down on food miles

• Recycle food and drink packaging and minimise food waste

• Limit printing of promotional materials

• Encourage ‘green’ team building, such as volunteering to clean up rubbish in local nature spots and educational sessions on how individuals can limit their impact on the environment.

Photo: Visitor Village by Bentham Imaging