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It’s World Environmental Health Day and this year’s theme is centred around the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At 15Hatfields, we’re interested in how the SDGs relate to the events industry and what venues can do to implement them.

Adopted in 2015 as part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda, the 17 SDGs are a universal call to action to address major global issues including inequality, climate change and sustainable consumption. As the official venue of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, 15Hatfields was designed with sustainability in mind, and this has remained at the heart of every business decision since our doors opened in 2008. Over 14 years, we have been working to identify, measure and address our environmental impact across different areas of our organisation and supply chain. We have found three of the SDGs to be particularly pertinent in our search for ways to decarbonise the events industry.

Read our insights into the steps that venues can take towards implementing them:

Goal 11. Sustainable cities and communities

A venue is the sum of many partnerships and therefore, only as sustainable as its supply chain. Partnering with nearby businesses who share a commitment to sustainable practices, is a great way for venues to support the local community while reducing their carbon footprint. We work with catering specialists Eden Caterers who celebrate local and seasonal produce, offer a delicious selection of plant-based dishes, and happen to be located within 15 minutes of our venue in London’s South Bank.

Being a sustainable business, is about more than rethinking practices that have a negative effect on the environment. In our research, we continue to discover suppliers that are going above and beyond to give back to their communities. We recommend MOMA Oat as a diary free alternative to milk. Through their school breakfast clubs, MOMA has provided over 45,000 breakfasts to children across the UK. Meanwhile, Mozzo Coffee has raised over £100,000 to support local initiatives in coffee farming communities since launching the Community2Community Fund.

There are so many worthy causes to support. Businesses may find it helpful to identify a primary initiative to ensure the necessary time and resources can be devoted to it. From 2018-19 we focused on eradicating single-use plastic across our supply chain and joined the #OneLess bottle movement which established free refill stations around London. In recent years, our priority has been tackling the spread of palm oil and its hundreds of derivatives across food and cleaning products. Read about our mission to become a palm oil free venue on page 25 of the September issue of Conference News.

Goal 12. Responsible consumption and production

Food waste in the UK hospitality and food sector amounts to an astonishing £3.2 billion a year. Spoilage can be prevented by purchasing food locally and checking stock regularly to avoid unnecessary ordering. Over catering is also a common contributor to food waste in the events industry and in this area communication between venues and event planners is key. Methods to avoid over catering include creating smaller event catering menus tailored to client requirements and holding food in reserve rather than serving everything at once. When food is leftover, it can be sent to food waste plants to be broken down through anaerobic digestion. This process produces biogas, which then powers the plant, along with liquid fertilizer as a by-product.

There are also opportunities to contribute to the circular economy when it comes to furnishing a venue. We are passionate advocates of repurposing and there are examples of this throughout our event spaces, from coasters made from recycled tyres to cushions made from end-of-the-line seatbelts. Repurposing is just as effective on a larger scale, as demonstrated by our reception desk which is made from reclaimed medical equipment and recycled plastic packaging!

Goal 13. Climate action

Energy consumption has been identified as the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and globally. For venues looking to significantly reduce their carbon emissions, understanding where their energy comes from and moving away from fossil fuels is an important step. We recommend selecting a tariff where electricity is certified to be from 100% renewable sources. Solar panels have also proven to be a fantastic investment for us, providing over 90% of the hot water used in our building.

Energy efficiency measures and techniques for preventing energy loss are also effective in reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and energy bills. Such measures include investing in insulation and energy-efficient glazing, as well as simply ensuring appliances are not left on standby. Our 5,000 lumens HD ceiling-mounted projectors come with eco mode which allows us to reduce power consumption and noise level. We have also found motion-sensitive lights to be an effective method for saving energy in our kitchen and washrooms.

As sustainability continues to rise on the agenda for event planners, venues will be called upon to provide evidence of their environmental impact, from food miles to energy usage. We recently installed new electrical digital meters which allow us to take electrical consumption readings every 15 minutes. Our aim is to be able to establish benchmarks for event planners by comparing energy consumption across individual events.

Speak to one of our sustainable event experts to start planning your next event.