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3 Key Tips to Planning a More Sustainable Event

If the word sustainability has been making a regular appearance on your organization’s agenda, you’re in good company. Whether it’s reflected in innovative digital platforms, new governance models or energy efficient appliances, surveys show that sustainability has become a necessary and expected aspect of a corporate brand, operations and engagement. Where sustainability gets a bit trickier to practice, for many organizations, is in the planning of conference and business events.

When remote or virtual events just won’t cut it, pulling together teams from across the region, province or country can have a hefty environmental price tag. There are ways for event planners to minimize these costs, and the key is to begin thinking about sustainability factors and measures right from the start. But how to begin? We’re here to help and we recommend that you simplify your planning by approaching it with three factors in mind.

Firstly, consider the geographical location of your event and its accessibility. Secondly, assess potential venues from the perspective of their building technologies and environmental features. Third, choose several on-site practices that will help your participants reduce their own impact. We’ve outlined some considerations below and identified some solutions for you. Then you’re well on your way to hosting a sustainable event.

1. Select a location for your event that minimizes the amount of travel for participants.

There’s no doubt it’s fun attending conferences near a tropical beach or mountaintop ski resort. However, the unfortunate reality is that travel accounts for up to 90% of emissions related to business conferences. Staying a bit closer to home can help keep a lid on travel-related fossil-fuel emissions. When you find a location that makes the best sense for everyone, you can always provide participants with the option of buying carbon offsets for their travel footprint.

Another important factor in selecting the location for your event is the availability of public transit or alternate means of getting around once your participants arrive. Venues, where they can easily access public transit to shop or hit the tourist trail, can help reduce the use of fossil fuels. And if the area surrounding the venue offers amenities within easy walking distance, then the benefits multiply.

Given our central location in the Metro Vancouver area, Civic Hotel is ideally located to gather participants from across the region and province, as guests arriving by car from all points east can avoid the long, slow traffic crawl making its way into Vancouver. We’re also situated in the middle of a major transit hub, easily accessible by rapid transit options like bus and Skytrain (elevated rail line). From this hub, you can easily access downtown Vancouver, Vancouver International Airport, two major ferry terminals, express trains and transit destinations right across the region.

2. Host the event in a green venue.

According to various data sources, buildings account for anywhere from 12 to 39% of total carbon emissions worldwide. A significant portion of the climate change impacts of buildings is related to the amount of energy used for lighting and the building’s ventilation, heating and air conditioning system. For hotels, energy typically accounts for 60% of their emissions. Since your event participants have to stay somewhere, why not choose a venue with significant green credentials?

Our new-build hotel was built and designed using cutting-edge technologies to improve guest comfort while reducing energy consumption. For example, our radiant heating and cooling and passive ventilation are important systems that avoid the energy-hungry forced air systems found in most hotels. By harnessing natural processes like stack effect, the passive ventilation system alone reduces the need for fans and other equipment used by most systems by 90%.

We’re also using daylighting as well as technologies like special glazing and solar shades on our windows. These create a thermal barrier that helps us manage the effects of all the natural daylight pouring in through our floor-to-ceiling windows and avoid unnecessary heating and cooling. These are just a few more of the ways we’re reducing the carbon footprint of our guests by reducing their consumption of energy.

3. Leverage every possible means to reduce the on-site impact of participants.

The environmental impacts of participants’ activities inside the meeting and conference facilities are relatively minor, in the big picture. Yet the number of possibilities for more sustainable on-site practices and event options can be overwhelming when you’re in the planning stages. So, pick a few measures and then approach the team at your venue for some help. Even a few can help you reduce the overall carbon footprint that little bit more.

A no-brainer is placing recycling receptacles around the event room to sort paper, pop cans, and organics which helps divert waste from the landfill. Skip the bottled water and insist on large water dispensers and glasses or ceramic mugs. Ensuring the menu has lots of vegan and vegetarian options cooked from seasonal, locally sourced foods can help you reduce consumption of foods whose production and transport is often associated with heavier environmental impacts.

Last but not least, leverage technology wherever possible to reduce the need for paper. As a new-build, Civic Hotel offers the most advanced technology and IT infrastructure. Our seamless wireless network provides gigabyte service to all guests. Our intelligently outfitted meeting rooms can help you organize remote, virtual or hybrid options for presenters or sessions. LED lighting throughout the 8,000 square feet of meeting spaces further reduces the consumption of electricity. They’re just some of the ways we’re helping planners put sustainability in events.