The Most Sustainable Venues in the World
The Corporate Buyer’s Guide
When researching the most sustainable venues in the world, you will likely find there is no definitive answer, as the criteria varies, as do the accreditation schemes. However, we don’t give up that easily.
To help our corporate event buyer friends find an eco-friendly venue we’ve compiled a guide that can help you determine the most sustainable venues are in the world.
Why Have we Done This?
We are all seeing the impact of climate change. From fires and floods, to heatwaves and droughts, the effects on our planet are undeniable. As a result, like many sector’s worldwide, the events industry is striving to reduce its impact on the natural world.
Giant leaps are being taken within the events sector to reduce waste, harness our energy consumption and limit unnecessary travel.
As a technical production company, we are making our own moves to reduce carbon emissions by communicating and educating corporate buyers about technical solutions that can reduce waste, travel, and energy consumption. You can read more about this topic in our blog: Sustainable Corporate Event Production The Bigger Picture
Our interest in sustainable practises for event production have increased dramatically since the rules were lifted on the pandemic’s travel restrictions. In the past six months alone we have attended site visits in New York, Sydney, Singapore and across Europe; on all occasions, we have witnessed a growing concern over the impact events have on the environment.
Indeed, ‘responsible hospitality’ is the buzz word of the events sector right now. Corporate event buyers are not just considering the event space and the facilities for delegates, they are looking at the way venues use energy, water, chemicals and manage waste, laundry, and catering. It can be fascinating to the see the lengths venues, hotels, and event planners are making to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint worldwide.
In a further bid to communicate sustainable event solutions, we are broadening our own knowledge and have explored the topic of ‘the most sustainable venues in the world’
What Makes an Event Venue Sustainable?
There are many different accreditations and certification that recognise the sustainable venues worldwide, as well as on a regional level. In fact, there is not one definitive standard that recognises sustainable venues as a whole. Frustrating as that may be, they all strive for the same goals – to increase their sustainability values.
If you are a corporate buyer reading this, you will no doubt discover that some venues will strive to conform to global organisations, while others will focus on their own region’s scheme. Either way, they are all making moves to be more sustainable. The question you have to ask, is to what extent?
To score a venue as sustainable, most schemes require evidence in the following areas:
- Energy efficiency – from lights to heating and cooling
- Water supply and usage limitations
- Supplier’s eco-credential
- Catering (the use of local produce and the way it is produced)
- Waste management and recycling practises
- Access to and from the venue (access to public transport, EV shuttles)
- Laundry management systems
- Technology – everything from smart tech to reduce energy consumption to the audio-visual equipment are assessed
- Staff education on sustainable practises
- Limiting the environmental impact on the venue
- Impact on the community
- People and social responsibility
Examples of Schemes that Certify Sustainable Venues Worldwide
The list is vast, but in a bid to communicate sustainable practices for event production, we have done our best to pick out some schemes that ask venues to conform to eco, green and sustainable standards.
Green Globe – Global
Green Globe describes itself as ‘The Global Leader in Sustainable Tourism Certification’. Recently, Beurs Van Berlage in Amsterdam became the first Dutch Conference Centre to receive Green Globe Certification. Their members span Africa, Asia, America, Carabean, Europe and the Middle East.
IACC Green Star – Global
IACC is a global venue finding service that has introduced its own eco-certification to support corporate event buyers.
Although this is a global organisation the, IACC Green Star certification has mostly been awarded to members in the US and UK.
There are three levels of certification – Silver, Gold and Platinum – which score a venue on the following areas:
- Education, Awareness and Public Declaration
- Waste Management
- Water Conservation
- Energy Management
- Air Quality
- Food & Beverage
Platinum membership requires venues to have met 100% of the IACC sustainable criteria and there are only three venues that currently qualify:
- High Country Conference Center in Northern Arizona University, US
- All CCR venues in London, UK (including Bank Street E14, Smithfield EC1A, and Barbican EC1A)
- Warwick Conferences – Scarman, based in Coventry, UK
Green Tourism Awards – UK
The Green Tourism Award launched the Green Meeting standard, which accredits venues for their sustainable practices. Although it is a scheme available on a global scale, currently the accreditation has mostly been awarded to UK venues.
There are three levels to this scheme – Bronze, Silver and Gold. The scoring systems is based on energy and water usage, waste, carbon footprint and chemical usage. It also scores the venue on its commitment to people, catering and transport access.
UK venues with this accreditation include:
- Olympia London
- Manchester International Conference Centre
- Edinburgh International Conference Centre
- Manchester United
- Leeds University
- BMA House
- Central Hall Westminster
- Glaziers Hall
- QEII Centre
LEED and BREEAM
Two global leaders in sustainable building accreditation are LEED and BREEAM. Both of these schemes analyse how the physical building has been developed, altered or refurbished to achieve a certain standard of eco-efficiency.
Different to the schemes we have mentioned before, LEED and BREEAM use science-based measurements to validate and certify the physical building’s eco-efficiency, not just their processes.
Any building in the world can be certified as LEED or BREEAM, including venues.
Both schemes look at the physical building’s sustainable performance from the way it is designed to how it is constructed, it’s usage and refurbishment.
LEED & BREEAM Scoring
Buildings that are awarded with LEED and BREEAM accreditation have to go through a scoring system. This scoring system is based on credits achieved for different categories. As an example here are the credits awarded for LEED by category:
- 35% climate change
- 20% human health impact
- 15% water resources
- 10% biodiversity
- 10% green economy
- 5% community impact
- 5% natural resources
A building can be awarded the following levels of LEED accreditation:
- Certified (40-49 points)
- Silver (50-59 points)
- Gold (60-79 points)
- Platinum (80+ points)
The Most Sustainable Cities to Hold an Event in The World
If sustainability is a higher priority than the location for your event, then it could be worth exploring venues in the top 10 ranking sustainable cities. According to Arcadis Sustainable City Index, these cities rank highest for three pillars – planet (environmental), people (social), and profit (economic):
- San Francisco
Our List of The Most Sustainable Venues Worldwide
We begin our list of the most Sustainable Venues Worldwide in London, where the events sector is striving to achieve the government’s net zero-emissions targets by 2050. Here you will find a plethora of event venues committed to sustainability. However one trumps all, and that’s The Crystal.
The Crystal, London, UK
The Crystal is the world’s first building to achieve the highest accreditation from LEED and BREEAM – Platinum (LEED) and Outstanding (BREEAM).
Inside the 75,000 sq ft space is an exhibition zone, auditorium, conference facilities, meeting rooms and office spaces.
Eco credentials include:
- An all-electric building that uses more than 5,000 sq ft of solar photovoltaic panels and a ground source heat pump to generate its own energy.
- The building management system monitors every kilowatt of electricity used. This can then be compared with the performance of other buildings across the world. Siemens claims it maintains CO2 emissions that are around 70% lower than in similar office buildings in the UK
- Triple layered, high performance solar glass is used for all the windows, which allows around 70% of visible light through each window but only about 30% of the solar energy.
- water efficient fittings and low use taps, limit the amount of water wastage.
- A rainwater harvesting system collects and treats the water, which is so clean it is used as drinking water.
- A wastewater recycling plant repurposes 100% of the water in the building for use in toilets.
- A sustainable drainage system reduces the amount of water being sent to the sewers.
15 Hatfields, London, UK
15 Hatfields is arguably the most sustainable venue in central London. It not only carries the Green Tourism Gold Award, but also a certification of the NQA Sustainable Development Management Scheme.
This is a great venue for a variety of corporate events, as it offers a range of different size spaces across muliple floors. The maximum capacity for a seated dinner is 230, or 330 for theatre-style seating.
Eco credentials include:
- The food is organic, locally sourced, fair trade and supplied by a sustainable catering company
- Seasonal menus limit food waste
- Zero waste to landfill initiative is in place
- Zero single-use plastic is used in this venue
- The event furniture is made from recycled materials
- Sophisticated Audio-Visual equipment allows for virtual streaming and reduces paper wastage
AC Hotel Riga by Marriott, Latvia
AC Hotel in Riga, Latvia scores highly on our most sustainable venues in the world list. Boasting four event spaces, with a total of 2,303 sq ft of event space, this hotel can accommodate 230 delegates and offers three breakout zones.
Eco credentials include:
- Gold LEED certification
- Water efficiency
- Energy performance
- Innovation technologies
- Location accessible by alternative transport
- Low emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles
The Bella Center Copenhagen, Denmark
This is a venue that has truly thought about everything from a sustainable point of view. They call it the ‘360 approach’ and it really is just that.
Having collaborated with Schneider Electric, The Bella operates as a smart building, whereby the energy usage in specific areas can be monitored and tracked to better understand their energy consumption and therefore adjust accordingly to meet their goals.
The staff too are educated about energy consumption to ensure it is at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Eco credentials include:
- Eco chocolate by Original Beans is served as standard to support the conservation of the rain forest and rare varieties of cocoa.
- Sustainably sourced coffee beans are served to suppprt the preservation of the rainforest and the population of orangutans in Indonesia.
- Treatboxes are served to guests to take their leftovers home and reduce food waste.
- The venue’s locally sourced and sustainable supplier list is available to the public as part of their bid to be fully transparent.
- The rooftop is home to bees that produce up to 50 kilos of honey per hive. You don’t get more local than that!
Los Angeles Convention Center, USA
Located in the vibrant L.A. district, The Los Angeles Convention Center has 64 meeting rooms offering a total of 147,000 square feet of event space that can comfortably seat 299 delegate in theatre style seating.
This is another LEED Gold accredited venue with some outstanding green facilities, including 9,500 sq ft of rooftop garden space, where they grow produce, which contributes towards the venue’s promise to locally source 90% of the food on their menu.
Eco credentials include:
- 5,600 onsite parking spaces
- 13 electric vehicle charging stations
- Shuttle bus pick-up and drop-off areas
- The largest collection of solar panels on a municipal building in the US!!! Solar power generated by the panels reduces the venue’s energy use by 11.4%
- 80.58% of all consumables are sustainably sourced
- 83.51% of the total cleaning products and materials are sustainable
- 90% of food served is locally sourced
- More efficient paper towel dispensers have reduced consumption by 15,600 sheets per year
H2 Hotel, California, USA
H2 Hotel in California is another Gold standard LEED certified venue. From the very beginning, sustainability had be at the heart of the H2 Hotel’s construction. It was built on an old gas station, which meant removing and remediated the contamoniated soil before construction could begin.
Furthermore, Foss Creek runs through the property, so developers worked with the community to restore the creek bed.
Eco credentials include:
- Green roof filtering system and fountain reduces impact on town’s storm drains.
- H2H uses 27.8% less energy than the standard hotel in California.
- Reusable recycling bins are placed in all the rooms.
- During its building, more than 85% of the hotel’s construction debris was recycled.
- Custom furnishings, exterior wood decking, the main stair case, and the meeting room floors are made from salvaged lumber.
- 60% of the total site—including the living roof—has been left as landscaped open space to promote biodiversity.
- Dual-flush toilets, low-flow taps, and fixtures reduce water use by 20%.
- Recycled and sustainably sourced consumables, laundry, and uniform
- Wines and spirits are sourced from sustainable producers and .ordered in small batches.
- Guests and staff enjoy complimentary bicycles and parking.
- H2H is located within walking distance to the town.
Creating a sustainable event is complex and we are all still learning. What we do know is that we have to address every stage within the event production process. From the suppliers you use to the food served, finding a venue to reducing all waste, we have to think about the more responsible ways of hosting events of all kinds.
While this blog is predominantly a guide to the Most Sustainable Event Venues in the World, you may also find our blog about ‘Sustainable Corporate Event Production The Bigger Picture’ of interest.