Greening your conference: Sustainability in conferencing
Planet, People and Prosperity – striking a balance
- Corporate Social Responsibility: Greening a conference affords opportunity to add value to local communities through employment, training, local industry support, and raising awareness of sustainability issues. Your venue of choice should also demonstrate community focus by providing a list of organisations it supports. Delegates may consider contributing to the worthy causes listed – or you may wish to donate unused items such as stationery, goodie bags, exhibition materials or unopened food to those that need it.
- Eco-procurement: To source materials required for your conference in an ecologically and socially responsible way requires research into innovative alternative options to all purchases or service provision. Wherever possible, support local products that are not harmful to the environment – and ensure that all items, such as conference packs, goodie bags or gifts are durable, reusable or recyclable, including signs and name badges.
Recycling – waste can be useful!
- Waste: There is always potential for a large amount of waste at events like conferences – and recycling will be your most visible greening action. Separating at source is key to extracting the best value out of waste matter. Recycling benefits include: creating more jobs, reducing costs by using recyclable items, a cleaner environment, using leftovers to provide food to charitable institutions such as shelters and soup kitchens, and using organic waste for composting. Minimising landfill waste should be the goal in order to reduce the amount of valuable re-usable materials going to waste.
- Food & Beverages: By using only local produce, you will be supporting local industries and reducing carbon emission of long-haul transport. Wherever possible, the menu should include the freshest organic and seasonal foods and offer a vegetarian option. Reusable or disposable plates, as well as cloth napkins instead of paper, will make a difference, and very importantly, water should be served in glass jugs rather than plastic bottles.
- Presentation & Marketing: There are several practical marketing and branding practices to promote greening principles. Ensure that the use of paper materials such as flip charts or hand-outs is as limited as possible, and that all communications are via email. Only print when necessary and when you do, print double-sided. If printed matter is unavoidable, then it should be produced with recycled material only. Marketing and communication of the event should be done electronically as far as possible, and registration for the conference should be via digital means.
Resource efficiency – reduce, rebalance and conserve
- Energy Consumption: It would be worthwhile to assess your chosen venue with regard to renewable energy and energy saving policies. The installation of solar geysers will be an important check – and wherever possible the use of natural light and ventilation is preferable. Energy efficiency should include: regulation of air-conditioning for the most efficient usage; LED lighting; sensor-driven electrical devices such as escalators and light sensors which switch off lights and equipment when not in use – keep in mind that the higher the energy savings, the greater the cost savings.
- Emissions & Offsetting: A green venue should have an advanced energy usage measurement system in place that will allow you to proactively monitor the carbon emissions created by your event. You can gain information on the amount of energy consumed – and elect to purchase carbon credits, green energy or support an environmental organisation as a way of offsetting the resultant carbon emissions.
- Transport: Finding ways to reduce the travelling time between the airport, accommodation and the conference venue plays a vital role in minimising the carbon footprint. Secondly, the venue should be easily accessible via reliable public transport, even possibly including the provision of bicycles. These measures will not only reduce transport emissions to and from the venue but also ensure convenience for delegates.
- Water Conservation: Water is a scarce and valuable resource, and the venue’s responsible stewardship should include: accurate monitoring of water consumption; water-wise plants and drip irrigation systems; installation of water-saving sensor taps and dual flush systems in restrooms.
The CTICC – when next you’re in Cape Town
Cape Town, home to Table Mountain, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, provides a perfect setting for local, small and large national conferences. The Cape Town International Convention Centre – proud member of the South African Event Greening Forum and the Green Meetings Industry Council – is superbly placed to green your event.
- At the CTICC, we are committed to sustainability as a core business ethic. It is not simply a measure of value that we add; it is at the heart of who we are.
- Nurture Our World (NOW) is a fully-fledged sustainability forum that informs and guides the CTICC’s sustainability efforts, and supports several programmes aimed at enhancing the centre’s positive environmental and social impact.
- Our passion for sustainability leadership has earned us various accolades. Wereport our sustainable practices in line with Global Reporting Initiative standards.
- We believe that by achieving these high standards, we inspire industry players, clients and visitors alike, to embark on their own ‘green’ journeys.