With sustainability top of the agenda for many event organisers, choosing a sustainable venue for events is essential. But verifying which venues really are sustainable, and whether some claims are just hot air, can leave many of us in a muddle and short on precious time.
Here, we're diving into how to be sure you're choosing a sustainable venue, from the key features to look for, to the questions to ask, to make sure you're making your events as green as possible.
Why Choose a Sustainable Venue?
- Environmental Impact of Events: From energy consumption to waste production, events can leave a significant carbon footprint. By choosing a sustainable venue, organisers can significantly reduce this impact, ensuring that their event is more environmentally responsible.
- Positive Brand Image and Corporate Social Responsibility: Hosting events at sustainable venues aligns with businesses' ethical standards but also enhances a brand's image, showcasing a commitment to the planet.
- Meeting the Expectations of an Eco-conscious Audience: These days, attendees are more environmentally aware than ever. With more competition for event attendance than ever, if your event doesn't align with attendees' values, it's harder to get them in the room.
What to Look For in Sustainable Venues
With electricity and heating contributing a huge proportion of a venue's footprint, energy efficiency is a key area to look at when choosing a sustainable venue.
Many sustainable venues are equipped with LED lighting, use renewable energy, and have energy-saving appliances like efficient dishwashers, ensuring minimal energy wastage. Others may even have solar panels or generate their own power at times.
Look for a Building Management System, which keeps track of energy usage in the venue and allows venue managers to reduce heating in certain areas.
Look for venues that prioritise recycling, composting, and have robust waste reduction initiatives in place. This could mean they're working with suppliers that use less packaging, reducing their meal options and portion sizes to keep food waste to a minimum, or have reusable exhibition stands and decorations you can rent.
Events can use up a huge amount of water, but there are many things venues can do to reduce the water used on the day.
Features like rainwater harvesting, low-flow fixtures in taps and toilet flushes, and water recycling systems demonstrate a venue's commitment to conserving water.
Venues located near public transport hubs, or those that provide bike racks and electric vehicle charging stations, encourage sustainable travel. As far as possible, aim to choose a venue that has good public transport links to reduce the amount of attendee and exhibitor travel by car or private vehicle.
Eco-friendly Materials and Good Infrastructure
Venues that are working hard to be sustainable are also likely to have invested in good insulation, well-fitting doors and windows, and more efficient heating systems.
Other good factors to look for include the use of sustainable building materials, recycled furniture, and non-toxic paints.
Local and Sustainable Catering Partners
Catering is a key element of event footprints, and if a venue has an in-house caterer, you want to make sure that they align with your sustainability goals. You can ask for the sustainability credentials of caterers and other partners during the venue selection process. Handy hint: if you're opting for a dry hire venue, check out our top sustainable caterers for some event inspiration!
How to Start Looking for Sustainable Venues
One of the best ways to look for sustainable venues is through a service like Hire Space where you submit an event enquiry and our team send the best options for your brief. It's fast, simple, and takes the hassle out of the search!
With our dedicated Event Sustainability Hub, we have in-depth knowledge of the most eco-friendly venues in the market, ensuring that organisers are presented with the best options. We'll also soon be introducing sustainability information on venue profiles, making it easier to choose a green venue for your events - watch this space!
If you're eager to do the leg work yourself, we recommend looking at our sustainable venue lists with the best venues for a range of event types (we're continually adding to these). The best way to get information on the measures a venue is putting into place to reduce their environmental impact is through its sustainability policy. You can find this online or request it from your contact at the venue.
Questions To Ask Your Venues
When you're considering venues, we recommend focusing on one or two areas that are important to your or your client's brand and event - such as catering and energy, for example. It's hard to find a venue that's perfect in all regards, but by setting sustainability objectives for your event, you'll be able to narrow down venues that work for your own event environmental goals.
It's important to ask questions about a venue's sustainability initiatives to find a location that aligns with your own green objectives. Remember, collaboration is key!
Here are some of the key questions you might want to ask in your RFP:
Certifications & Awards
- Do you have any sustainability certifications, such as BREEAM or ISO 20121 (see more certifications below)?
- Have you received any awards or recognitions for your green initiatives?
Energy Use & Efficiency
- What energy-saving measures do you have in place?
- Do you use renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power?
- Are your lighting systems energy-efficient, ie using LED bulbs?
- How do you handle waste disposal and recycling?
- Do you have composting facilities?
- What steps do you take to minimise single-use plastics?
- Do you have water-saving fixtures, such as low-flow toilets and faucets?
- Are there any rainwater harvesting or grey water recycling systems in place?
- Is the venue easily accessible by public transportation?
- Do you offer bike racks or electric vehicle charging stations?
Local and Organic Sourcing
- Do you source food and beverages locally or from organic suppliers?
- How do you ensure that your suppliers adhere to sustainable practices?
Building Materials & Design
- Were sustainable or recycled materials used in the construction or renovation of the venue?
- Is the design of the venue optimised for natural lighting and ventilation?
- How do you support local communities or engage in social responsibility initiatives?
- Do you have partnerships with local environmental or social organisations?
- How do you train your staff on sustainability practices?
- Do you have a dedicated sustainability officer or team?
- How do you measure and track your sustainability performance?
- Are there any future green initiatives or improvements planned?
- How do you encourage guests or attendees to participate in your sustainability efforts?
- Do you have any programs or incentives for guests to reduce their environmental impact during their stay or visit?
- Do you have any carbon offsetting programs or partnerships in place?
- How do you work towards reducing your overall carbon footprint?
Note: Obviously, you don't have to ask all of these questions, but some of the categories might provide a good starting point to look at what's really important for your event!
What accreditations or certifications should you look for?
Looking for third party certification is a good way to gain a more objective understanding of a venue's sustainability initiatives. There are many different sustainable venue accreditation schemes, but some of the most widely recognised are:
ISO 20121 was established as a benchmark for the events sector, ensuring that agencies, stakeholders, venues, and suppliers adhere to a consistent global standard. Venues with this certification have to meet stringent requirements.
Upon successfully passing Greengage's evaluation, hotels and venues earn a sustainability ranking ranging from Bronze to Platinum. Greengage offers guidance and tools to aid venues in enhancing their practices and revisits the venue's ranking annually.
Green Tourism offers a sustainability certification tailored for the tourism and hotel sector. They collaborate with global entities to set sustainability as a universal benchmark.
A Greener Future provides carbon footprint assessments for venues, granting certifications to those that achieve net zero objectives.
Green Key sets an international standard for venues and hotels. To date, they've recognised over 3,200 tourism facilities across 65 nations.
BREEAM offers a range of certifications for the built environment, alongside advice and practical measures to help improve venues' sustainability.
Top Sustainable Venues
We've put together lists of some of the top sustainable venues we work with, which you can use to start looking for your perfect event venue. You can easily enquire and book these venues through Hire Space to get the quickest responses and best rates.
The choice of venue plays a significant role in the overall sustainability of an event. With Hire Space as your partner, finding a venue that aligns with your environmental values has never been easier.
Let us help
Get in touch with our team for help finding the perfect sustainable venue for your next eventEnquire Now
Jessamy channels her passion for sustainability and cultural events into shining a spotlight on innovation and inspiration in the events world, and heading up Hire Space's sustainability committee.