On the sustainability journey, it’s essential to ask questions along the way. Event professionals should scratch beneath the surface of attributes and accreditations to ensure climate-friendly claims are credible. Michael Begley, CEO of venuedirectory.com, explains:
Venuedirectory.com is the only platform in the UK to detail each venue’s range of sustainability credentials and has partnerships with accreditation programmes including: ECOSmart (Greengage), Green Meetings, Green Key, Green Tourism Standard and Quality in Tourism. As a result, venuedirectoy.com now offers a total of 2,629 global green accredited venues and 1,755 nationally, cementing its position as the UK’s largest database of sustainable venues.
Behind each green venue listing lies substantial scrutiny of the standards and practices each venue – or venue group – subscribes to. We look for evidence of procedures and governance behind their sustainable activities.
Sustainability questions to ask suppliers
Before the venue is confirmed on our platform we speak with them to delve into the detail, with questions including the following:
- What are the current sustainability measures in place?
- Do they cover core areas: key areas e.g. energy, water, waste, travel, purchasing, suppliers, food & beverage
- Do they align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals?
- How are they communicated?
- What are your goals and how is progress tracked?
- Do you subscribe to any external accreditations?
- What’s the criteria of these accreditations?
What we’re after is an auditable trail and evidence underpinning each of the sustainability claims. For example, how does a venue group ensure compliance – via spot checks across a small selection of venues or throughout every single one in the portfolio? Measurement is also key here – the common phrase ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’ is very fitting. I’d also add that you can’t progress what you can’t measure.
The very notion of sustainability as a journey implies that progress is made on an ongoing basis. No single company is expected to have all the answers straightaway; it’s about taking small incremental steps and building on what you achieve. This is where sustainability accreditations can play a significant role.
Accreditations bring benefits
The benefits of sustainability accreditations extend well beyond a rating or certificate. The process itself becomes a journey to creating a green corporate culture and a more sustainable, socially responsible business. A sustainability certification programme also engages employees and drives company-wide commitment and purpose.
The targets and assessment deadlines that accreditation schemes provide help to maintain momentum and keep goals front of mind. Most of the viable accreditation programmes for our sector, including our partners ECOSmart (Greengage), Green Meetings, Green Key, Green Tourism Standard and Quality in Tourism, work with venues to develop a green action plan which pinpoints, among other things, core goals and areas to improve. A yearly review then checks what progress has been made on these goals. Then – and only then – is the accreditation awarded again. These standards are by no means an easy win, and therein lies the value.
What’s certain, in this current climate of uncertainty, is that greater scrutiny will be applied to environmentally friendly claims. We’re all aware if the perils are greenwashing, and this is driving people to ask more questions and looking for proof to back up claims: whether that’s businesses scrutinising their suppliers or planners booking venues.
At venuedirectory.com we’ve seen demand among planners for green venues continue to rise. Currently, one of the biggest search filters for venues is ‘sustainability’ and the term also figures highly in many RFPs. As well as sourcing sustainably, it’s essential to scratch beneath the surface of claims and double check that standards continue to be met along the way.
Michael Begley is managing director of venuedirectory.com Venuedirectory.com’s sustainability and green purchasing policy can be found here