Over the last twelve months I have been astonished at how rapidly the ‘green’ bandwagon has rolled on, with all and sundry parading their green credentials so that it is now difficult to distinguish the hyped, veneer policies of those who pay lip service to Corporate Social Responsibility from the truly committed organisations taking real action to tackle the issues.
Many organisations are now waving the green flag and this is most definitely to be applauded. But we are at risk of eco-fatigue; as you can only bang on so much before people become jaded. Particularly at a time when the economy takes over as our main concern, it would be easy to put such issues to one side. However our recent research (Mood of the Market report December 2008) revealed that, despite their main concern being business levels this year, these issues remain high priority, with 86% of 700 European buyers saying CSR and environmental issues are influential in event organisation.
There is little doubt that an increasing number of buyers are making decisions based on the CSR policies of suppliers. Yet assessing an organisation’s true green or CSR credentials has not been easy as until recently there has been no industry-wide standard or barometer against which to measure. Although ISO 14001 is a generic credential and the recent introduction of BS8901 for sustainable events will help in the UK, this is now set to change worldwide with the launch of the Charter for Responsible Meetings*, which was signed by no less than 49 CEOs of key meetings industry organisations at the EIBTM CEO summit in December. The charter sets out commitment to 10 key activities that will deliver real benefit to communities and meetings destinations around the world and to environmental policy.
Simple steps to real improvement
Through the venue projects and developments The Right Solution has worked on over the years, we have often been involved in advising on design and build features to support environmental policies. There are a number of simple tips that venues can consider if they want to make a real difference to their eco-credentials:
- Encourage the use of electronic note-taking rather than use of notepads and pens (although many venues already use recycled paper for these)
- Establish a wormery for catering waste
- Have a hot water system utilising mixed oxidants (MIOX) which reduces the need to heat water in a building to 60 degrees, usually required to kill off legionella. With the MIOX system, less heating is required and a huge amount of energy can be saved, thus saving money as well. You could also compare your energy tariff to ascertain which energy supplier suits the best for you.
- Heat recovery systems
- If building a new venue, ensure a BREEAM rating of “very good” as a minimum.
- Rainwater harvesting
- Recycling stations for glass, paper and composting organic waste, for visitors and employees
- Reduce supplier miles, recruiting local suppliers for catering and other supplies
- Use automatic light switches (movement sensors) in such areas as toilets and stores
- Use low energy lighting systems, where practicable.
- Use grey water for toilets
So, whatever your role in the meetings industry, you can now commit now to making a real difference, and at the same time you can save costs when this is crucial to the survival of your business.