Operating Onsite Tackling sustainability BDC marketing director Kate Simpson on just some of the ways that the North London venue can help organisers put on an environmentally conscious event T “It’s imperative for venues to engage with organisers from an early stage” 62 — March he debate around plastics, waste reduction and the consumption of energy is nothing new to us at the BDC; in fact, we have been carbon neutral now for 10 years. The future, though, clearly requires a bigger investment into much greater detail, especially from an industry where waste production has the potential to be a significant by-product of its success. From seemingly small ideas, such as reusable water bottless to making measured change across a portfolio to ensure exhibition stands are used again, the events industry is most definitely not sitting back; it is in fact a topic of conversation across numerous event sectors. The edie Sustainability Leaders Forum held in February at the BDC brought together figureheads from global corporations to debate key messages on the topic, not just in terms of reducing but in reversing the situation; transforming the way businesses operate for good. Messages from the event were clear: ‘silence really is not an option any longer’ when it comes to sustainability. January’s AEO Forums hosted a panel of industry experts on how best to engage those at events on the matter of sustainability and what they thought should be done to impact change at the highest level. Venue services manager Hayley Constable, who heads up the Sustainability Team here at the BDC, sat on the panel session. “I think it’s imperative for venues to engage with the organisers of events from an early stage to be made aware of the impact the show will have,” she says. “Our policy at the venue is one of zero per cent to landfill, however the next step would be to reduce users’ issues and incineration. We also don’t want that to mean people are able to leave things behind knowing that it will simply ‘be taken care of’. The idea around exhibition stands shouldn’t just be about them going to a responsible end but should be about the longevity of what is built in the first place.” BDC chief executive, Dominic Jones adds: “Creating clearer directions for visitors to the venue is important to ensure that the good work done in recycling isn’t ruined through contamination. In the same way we ensure the safety of those onsite through clear and concise health and safety messaging, it is key that we take the education of our guests just as seriously when it comes to sustainability.” The BDC’s in-house team has already begun the first phase of a venue-wide water filtration system offering free water at new filling stations across the event space, which is due to be completed in the coming months. Our advice to event organisers is to get in touch with our event managers to start the conversation early. We have connections in the local area, so if you don’t want the chairs from your feature builds, I bet we can find a local community centre that might. Meet the caterers for a tasting, they are happy to explain the choices available to make your menu less impactful on the environment. When it comes to getting here, we are a well- connected venue; point guests to our visiting us section for the quickest routes by public transport and if they want to drive, there are electric charging points available in our car park. We also say communicate to your exhibitors and visitors before they arrive. If you only tell them two things; bring a reusable coffee cup (you will get a discount on hot drinks) and bring a reusable water bottle (you can refill it and there will soon be more locations to do this). Finally, if exhibitors aren’t sure about their stand build yet – ask us for support!