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What to Look for When Planning a Sustainable Meeting

By: Alexandra Serrano | Published by MPI Toronto Chapter | Apr 14, 2023

Sustainability is a hot topic in 2023 in the meetings and events industry and beyond. There’s no better indication of its importance the release of the federal budget a few weeks ago, which announced billions for clean energy transition. Following suit, our industry is innovating to reflect the critical need to reduce our carbon footprint.

It has also been top-of-mind for meeting and event planners for quite some time, according to CVENT’S 7 Event Venue Trends for 2023. Citing findings from IMEX Group, “when organizers were first surveyed in January 2020, 90% agreed that an increasing focus on sustainability was important for the events industry. When asked the same question again in May 2020, 95% said their organizations were committed to developing more sustainable practices.

One of the simplest ways for planners to start incorporating sustainability into meetings is to collaborate with suppliers and venues that share your goals and values.

In fact, venues sourcing is a great place to begin. The 2022 report Finding the Future Together: Towards a more sustainable B2B trade show industry in the U.S. and Canada, identifies six areas of greatest 'material impact' on a carbon footprint by quantifying each impact and highlighting the progress that has been made to reduce it. Of these areas, venue energy usage is the second-largest source of emissions accounting for 13% of the total estimated carbon footprint measured in the project.

As a result, the report notes that energy use at exhibition venues is one of the most immediately addressable environmental impacts, as much of it is under the direct control of events industry stakeholders.

Here’s how to identify venue partners that are truly committed to sustainable initiatives when you’re sourcing for your next event:

1.            Public Commitments & Sustainability Reporting

EXPL23-SustainableTourism1 (1)To begin, search for partners who openly commit to and publicly report on their sustainability efforts, including their goals and progress towards achieving them. This can provide transparency and accountability for their sustainability practices and serve as a benchmark for other partners to strive towards.

For example, Exhibition Place in Toronto has recently signed the Sustainable Tourism 2030 Pledge, joining a global movement of businesses committed to creating a sustainable future for the tourism industry. Pledge signatories commit to measuring and improving the sustainability performance of their business between now and 2030 in support of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

2.            Reputable and Up-to-Date Certifications

Look for partners who have obtained certifications or memberships in organizations committed to sustainability. This can include certifications such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which demonstrates a verified commitment to sustainable practices by providing a framework for healthy, efficient, carbon and cost-saving green buildings.

One fact that is often overlooked is that LEED professional credentials need to be renewed every two years. Ask your venue partners about their status to ensure they have a strong history of success in sustainable practices. This will help ensure that you are working with partners who are up to date with the latest sustainability practices and can provide the best possible service for your event.

3.            Track Record of Success

When searching for partners to work with on sustainable initiatives, it is important to look for those with a proven track record of success. This can include past events they have hosted, partnerships they have formed with sustainable organizations, and cohesive initiatives that have evolved over time. Additionally, seek out testimonials or references from other clients who have worked with them on sustainability efforts. For example, the One of A Kind Show has recently shared their ambition to become a net zero carbon event by 2030.

"As a part of Informa, One Of A Kind has aligned it efforts to contribute to our company's commitment in building a sustainable business. Through the FasterForward program, our aim is to become a positive impact business by embedding sustainability into everything we do, and seizing opportunities to help our customers and communities to do the same," said Show Director Janice Leung.

"We greatly value having a venue partner like Exhibition Place who boasts a longstanding dedication to sustainable practices. These practices support our own ambitions of becoming zero waste and net zero carbon by 2030 while creating annual events that meet the high standards of our customers."

4.            Innovative Venue Features

DJI_0776 (2)Finally, keep your eyes open for distinct green features such as renewable energy sources, water-saving technologies, and waste management systems. For example, the Enercare Centre features an Energy Control System that powers areas only when necessary and a green roof. Furthermore, the broader Exhibition Place site uses renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal. These features have helped the venue achieve LEED Platinum certification and demonstrate leading-edge sustainable practices.

Sustainability is no longer a trend, but a necessity, especially in the events industry. When sourcing a venue for your next event, it's important to prioritize collaboration with partners which share your commitment to sustainability. By doing this you can create more impactful and responsible events that benefit both the industry and the planet.

Watch this video from Exhibition Place regarding sustainability.

About the Author:

Alexandra Serrano (She/Her)
Marketing and Communications Manager
Exhibition Place



Alexandra Serrano | Published by MPI Toronto Chapter

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