It’s probably fair to say that historically, the live events industry was seen as throw away and wasteful. While this may have been the case, the industry has come a long way over the past few years. Sustainability is now everyone’s responsibility, and venue teams have the potential to become market leaders in implementing effective processes to reduce their combined impact on the environment, setting a high standard for others to follow.
Venues can now introduce sophisticated and up-to-date lighting and heating technology into management programmes to reduce energy consumption. Waste streams across venues can be intensely analysed and identified, and with the introduction of a smart process in the segregation of waste streams, there’s no reason why the majority of waste cannot be recycled, with no waste at all going to landfill. The NEC’s Waste Pre-Treatment Centre is now part of day to day operations and integral to the sustainable success of the business.
At venues, additional features can play their part; shuttle buses now have economical Euro V engines and tracking software and drivers can be measured on their performance. Buses can also help push out a strong message for venues promoting use of public transport for the benefit of the environment. Water management systems in washrooms and the introduction of Smart Meters - which can make us all more aware of the energy we use so we can take immediate action to reduce waste - are great examples of how small changes can have a great impact.
In addition, at the NEC specifically, the management of wildlife within 75 acres of woodland and wetlands and in the venue’s Pendigo Lake also contributes to the sustainable agenda. Every venue can play its part.
Education and support is a vital part of environmental performance, as is significant awareness and knowledge within venue teams. Engagement, in addition to working in partnership with stakeholders to provide assistance and advice, is also key to ensure buy in and to aim for the least possible impact on the environment from every event or exhibition. What we do today will affect the future of us all.
It’s not a quick win, however. Venues need to be continuously looking to improve. Obtaining accreditation to ISO 14001 provides confidence in a team’s ability to deliver its environmental policy, including the commitment to comply with legislation, prevent pollution, and to continually improve environmental performance.
The events industry continues to make great strides in its positive contribution to sustainability and a “greener” world, and sustainability is now part of day to day decision making. Venue teams have learned a lot along the way, and as an industry we will keep learning and developing good sustainability practices to ensure live events continue to be enjoyed in a healthy environment. We can’t keep using earth’s natural resources.
Brian Pell, NEC Operations Director
Paul Jenkins, NEC Sustainability & Environmental Manager
Steve Neal, NEC Venue Services Manager