Central Hall Westminster launches carbon offset programme

Central Hall Westminster has announced an initiative to encourage clients holding events at central London’s largest conference centre to offset the carbon generated by the use of the venue. Having calculated the average daily energy and water use for an event, Central Hall has developed a calculator to provide an indication of the carbon footprint created by use of the venue’s facilities and will offer all clients the opportunity to offset this footprint via a range of tree-planting and carbon offset programmes.

The first event to offset its venue carbon footprint was the Methodist Conference, held between June 30th and July 7th this year, which saw around 2,000 delegates attend the nine-day event. Central Hall calculated that the venue carbon footprint of this event was some 15.81 tonnes, which will be offset by planting 40 trees.

Paul Southern, Managing Director at Central Hall Westminster, comments: “We have been developing a number of initiatives to enhance our sustainability as a venue and are delighted to have worked on hosting the first event this week that will be effectively carbon neutral in terms of its venue energy and water consumption. We have several initiatives under way already this year and are excited to offer our clients the opportunity to quickly and easily reduce the carbon footprint of their events held at Central Hall.”

This new scheme is the latest initiative in Central Hall’s environmental strategy developed over the last five years. In that time, Central Hall has implement a number of initiatives that have reduced its day to day carbon emissions. In recognition of its achievements, Central Hall was awarded a Gold Standard from the Green Tourism Authority in 2016 having introduced LED lighting throughout the venue, encouraged recycling by offering a 25 per cent discount for clients who use their own cups instead of paper cups, adopted a fair trade products only policy and has ensured red tractor sourcing of all food products.

Green is the new black: why sustainability matters in events

By Maria Langshaw, venue marketing manager, RIBA

In an increasingly competitive market, it seems that being environmentally friendly as a venue is now a necessity to secure business. Clients have so much choice when it comes to choosing a venue that they now need to justify their decision more thoroughly. Moral obligation and corporate responsibility play such a huge part in making decisions now that spending seems to be scrutinised more than it ever used to be.

Here at the RIBA, we have just achieved the Carbon Smart Silver standard, which means we have demonstrated that we are taking an intelligent and flexible approach to reducing our carbon footprint.

Our full environmental policy is available for our clients to view on our website but the main highlights are that:

– none of our waste goes to landfill

– 100% of our electricity is from renewable sources

– we have our very own RIBA Venues herb garden at the back of our Florence Hall (which we like to point out on show rounds!)

Our caterer Ampersand also plays its part by using locally sourced and sustainable produce where possible and fairtrade tea, coffee and chocolate.

So, this is all very well but does it actually bring you more business? Well, in May alone we were chosen by The Guardian to host its Sustainable Business Awards and also for the second time in two years we were chosen to host The Footprint Awards. For us then, yes, it does seem to be playing a part in us winning more business.

While I do think these clients chose us because our Florence Hall, with its floor to ceiling windows and outside roof terrace, can comfortably accommodate the number of guests that these events attract, but surely it’s vital that if the caterer’s remit is to produce canapés and food stations using only sustainable ingredients, then we, as a venue, need to prove that we are playing our part too?

Personally, it makes me feel better to work for a company that is making such steps to reduce its carbon footprint and if it makes us more appealing to clients along the way, then that’s an added bonus!