Multi Story Modern Building

Venues – They’re More Than Just a Building

Whether you are an event planner or organizer, or both, you will be making a lot of decisions about all aspects of the events you plan and organize. One of these aspects is the choice of venue. Among the first things, you may want to consider is if the venue is sustainable. Sustainable venues are becoming the venue of choice for many planners and corporations and it’s important to know as an event planner and organizer what defines a sustainable venue and how to make the right choice.

A venue can incorporate sustainable practices and policies in many ways. Some venues may go further than others in establishing and following these. Some venues are working towards sustainable goals and have a ways to go.
Let’s first look at the different areas where venues can put sustainable practices and policies into place.

The following is a list of some of these areas and what they mean:

Written Policies-
Documented procedures are important to ensure the execution, continuity, and communication of sustainable practices and policies. Venue managers should be more than willing to show you their documentation.
Water and Energy Conservation-
Use of water-saving plumbing fixtures (toilets, showerheads, faucets), greywater recycling, and rainwater capture are examples of water conservation. Examples of energy conservation are radiant heated floors, solar power, geothermal systems, energy-efficient windows, LED lighting, guest room lights and electronics operated with a keycard, efficient HVAC systems, and even green roofs where a building’s roof is partially or completely covered with vegetation and a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. Green roofs help reduce urban heat sinks, provide insulation, and as an aside to energy conservation provide garden space to grow produce to supply a venue’s kitchen.
Building Engineering –
Even an older building can be upgraded or renovated using sustainable materials. Here are a few examples of sustainable materials which can be used with a new or older renovated building:
earthen materials, wood, bamboo, slate/ stone roofing, steel (structural steel is over 25% recycled steel), composites, natural fiber, cork, natural clay, no- VOC paints, natural fiber floor, fiber cement, and stone.
Furnishings-
Furnishings include carpets, drapes, and window blinds and shades, and furniture for both public areas and hotel guest rooms.
Carpeting-
Sustainable carpeting may be manufactured from low impact yarns and recyclable materials. Low VOC (volatile organic chemicals) emission carpeting means the carpet was manufactured and installed with fewer or no chemicals and with low emitting materials. Volatile emissions are not healthy for humans and persist long after a carpet is installed.
Carpet tiles are considered more eco-friendly than wall to wall carpets, especially when installing with tile connectors or dry adhesive. Carpet tiles create less waste (no excess) and can be replaced individually when necessary without pulling up the entire floor covering.
Drapes and window blinds and shades-
Window blinds and shades can be made from sustainable materials like bamboo and wood and even faux wood produced with formed recycled material. Sustainable drapery and curtain materials can be made from organic cotton, hemp fiber, and recycled post-production and post-consumer fabrics and materials.
Furniture-
Sustainable sofas, beds, tables, chairs, dressers and more can be manufactured using organic upholstery fabrics , bamboo, sustainable wood (from fast-growing trees), reclaimed materials and recycled wood, metal, and plastic. Furniture purchased from furniture manufacturers who practice sustainable manufacturing and also from domestic manufacturers (reducing resources used and emissions) is much more eco-friendly.
Food and Beverage and Hospitality Services-
Food and related commodities are other areas where sustainable practices can be applied. Food services can source foods locally when possible, minimize food waste, and reduce or eliminate single-use plastics and other disposables. Sustainable energy and water use can be applied to the food preparation areas and cleanup too. A reusable linen and towels policy, bulk dispensers for soaps, shampoos and other toiletries, and recycled paper products are all good practices for the hospitality services provided by the venue.
Trash and Waste-
Recycling is the key to how a sustainable venue handles trash and waste. Encouraging and practicing recycling can go hand-in-hand. Recycling containers can be placed in public areas and guest rooms. When space permits, containers can be supplied for the different types of recyclable materials. Some hotels have started eliminating multiple waste receptacles in rooms to nudge guests into making less waste. Food waste can be composted along with other organic waste either by the venue or a local composting business. Lastly, it is important for staff as well as customers to participate in the recycling program.
Transportation-
The availability of public transportation can add an extra star to a venue’s sustainability rating. When attendees are able to use public buses, rail systems, trams, and ferries to access a venue, they are less likely to drive individually in cars to come and go to an event. Another bonus is the available transportation used to reach a venue from outside the city or area where the venue is located. Trains travel to many major cities and can be a sustainable alternative to flying or driving.
Personnel-
Managing sustainability policies and practices can be a fulltime job. Green venues are starting to appoint a staff member who is dedicated to sustainability issues or a full team of three or four personnel with a team manager. Either way, it’s a good idea to have at least one staff member who can focus on a venue’s sustainability status.

As an event planner and organizer, you are responsible for verifying a venue’s compliance with the sustainability claims the venue makes. One way to do this is to check the venue’s credentials. Certification is not always necessary but it is a good indication of how well a venue is achieving sustainability goals. Several governing bodies offer venues the opportunity to qualify for certification by meeting the standards put forth by the governing bodies. Examples of these certification programs are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Energy Star, Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEM), Green Globes, Living Building Challenge (LBC), and Zero Energy Building.
Ask for testimonials from other event professionals and finally make an onsite inspection. Talk to staff and managers in addition to assessing the physical facilities.

Remember, recycling, reusing, reducing, and conserving are the cornerstones of sustainability.

Next time we’ll look at the event and what you can do as the event planner and organizer to manage a sustainable event.

Are you going sustainable? See KLEERTECH®’s line of Bio-D® and other products for sustainable event supplies.

 

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