H&E North profiles a northern venue that is putting its money where its mouth is, leading the way in providing sustainable solutions for event planners, and reports on the new ICC Wales’ focus on the environment.
Well Met is the conferencing office at Leeds Beckett University. The team manage three distinct venues as part of their conferencing portfolio.
Following a £4.5 million refurbishment, the once thriving hub of Leeds’ cloth trade, Cloth Hall Court boasts a fresh contemporary space with the flexibility to host 10 – 300 delegates at a time across four venues. The Rose Bowl city campus which offers the latest in modern conferencing facilities, is ideal for banquets, receptions, conferences, exhibitions and training and has hosted a number of prestigious events. Further afield, James Graham on the Headingley campus is set in the leafy surroundings of three acres of parkland and is a perfect spot for board meetings and large residential conferences.
The Well Met team has put sustainability at the heart of its day delegate rate (DDR) for 2019 with the introduction of a series of products and processes to bolster the conference organisation’s green credentials. Initiatives include the introduction of a paper-free booking process, a wider provision of vegan catering choices and a Vero water purification system that provides mineral-quality water and removes the need for plastic water bottles on-site and in meetings. Clare Vidler, Conference Manager at Well Met, said: “We’ve adopted new approaches to our catering and booking processes to ensure that our DDR packages are built with sustainable conferencing at the heart.
“This is something we’ve been working on since opening the building in 2017 and the move has been largely driven by enthusiasm from the team responding to concerns of climate change by challenging behaviours, and making greener, sustainable choices wherever possible.”
The venue has seen an increase in requests from customers for more vegetarian and vegan catering choices for health reasons and to conscientiously reduce the impact of meat and dairy farming on the environment. The chefs at Cloth Hall Court are expanding their range of vegan cuisine in response to client’ requests to include a vegan option on every menu, with options for a fully vegan menu if required, as well as ensuring that ingredients are locally sourced where possible.
And it’s not just the food…
Well Met has also invested in measures to reduce the environmental impact of the booking process, including a guided 360-degree video tour of Cloth Hall Court to help bookers visualise the space in as much detail, saving them time and travel. Alongside the new initiatives, the organisation is also redoubling its efforts to communicate the sustainable credentials already sewn into the building.
Paul Mason, Project Manager at Leeds Beckett University, said: “Thanks to careful planning and robust policies of the university’s estates department, we were able to weave a number of energy- saving initiatives into the building’s refurbishment giving us an excellent head-start when it comes to sustainability.
“This includes BEMS (Built Environment Management System) controlled heating, cooling and lighting which ensures the building is as energy efficient as possible. Wherever possible, materials and products used in the refurbishment were selected utilising suppliers with a strong commitment to sustainability such as Bolon vinyl flooring and Interface carpets. The Vero water purification system also helps to provide mineral quality water with no reliance on plastic.”
As an academic venue operating within Leeds Beckett University, all Well Met’s profits are reinvested into the institution, contributing to the local economy and supporting vital teaching and research. The service shares its waste management with the university too, and thanks to its partnership with waste contractor AWM, 98% of all its waste is diverted from landfill.
Like many UK cities, Leeds is striving to improve its air quality, set minutes from the train station, Cloth Hall Court is conveniently placed for public transport. Clare added: “We’re exceptionally well-placed to offer environmentally conscious event planners a sustainable service. Public transport is the natural choice for delegates travelling to Cloth Hall Court and our other venues, and Leeds is so easy to get to from right across the country.”
It’s Only Natural
The International Convention Centre Wales (ICC Wales) is due to open soon, and along with finishing off the build and hiring an expert events team, the masterminds behind the venue recently unveiled a report at the 2019 edition of The Meetings Show about how the natural environment can have a positive effect on business events.
Entitled ‘The Great Outdoors – how the natural world can enhance a business events experience’, the report reflects an increasing awareness of wellbeing for delegates, the benefits of spending time in nature, as well as the importance of looking after the environment for the future. The main themes were…
- The need for more nature in our lives to combat the levels of stress faced in the events industry.
- The positive benefits nature can bring to an event through greater learning and wellbeing experiences.
- Harnessing Wales’ environmental strengths through its natural landscapes and emerging technologies.
- How event professionals can make the most of nature in event planning, including a 10-point guide to making an event ‘nature-friendly’.
Wales is a country synonymous with dramatic landscapes, green spaces and stunning coastline, and when it opens later this year, ICC Wales will be flanked by an area known as Coldra Woods, in Newport. A joint venture between Celtic Manor and the Welsh government, ICC Wales will accommodate 5,000 delegates and includes a 4,000 sqm pillar-free main hall, a 1,500-seated auditorium, 12 meeting rooms, a double-height glass atrium and a 2,500 sqm outdoor plaza.
As well as views onto the woodland from inside, the forest offers an opportunity to integrate an experience in nature for meeting and conference attendees. The woodland will include ‘ponder pods’ – covered outdoor meetings spaces and there will also be running and walking trails, wildlife watching stations, and a gardening and extensive tree planting programme.
Danielle Bounds, Sales Director at ICC Wales, said: “The last decade has seen an increasing interest in health and wellbeing in the events industry as well as society in general. People are waking up to the amazing benefits of spending time outside in nature, for a whole host of reasons including increased creativity, productivity and better mental health. We are so lucky at ICC Wales to be on the doorstep of some truly breath-taking natural environments and it’s time we started taking events outside, or bringing the outside into our events, where possible, to reap a whole host of rewards.”