The Role of Events in the Sustainable Management of Historic Buildings

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After several years in the hospitality industry with operations such as Trust House Forte, Best Western and Holiday Inn (culminating in the position of Hotel Manager), Zoë Turner joined Trinity House in 2006. Over the subsequent 13 years she has managed or assisted in the management of numerous events. In 2019 Zoe was promoted to Head of Events, filling the role previously held by Edgar King. 

Over a two-year period concluding at the end of 2017, Zoë undertook to complete a Master’s Degree in Event Management at the University of Greenwich, simultaneously holding down her job at Trinity House. She has been subsequently awarded a Certificate of Distinction, and received the highest mark in her class for her dissertation… ’The Role of Events in the Sustainable Management of Historic Buildings’.

It has been gratifying to note the rising interest in the sustainability aspects of event management as this indeed should be of increasing industry concern. When a venue is a heritage Grade-I listed building like Trinity House, there are inherent restrictions due to the age of the structure (such as mandatory use of single window panes) but we have adopted – or are adopting – as many energy-saving practices as are practical and non-invasive, including going ‘paperless’ in the event administration office; eradicating single-use plastics; LED lighting, and ensuring heat/cooling mechanisms are applied only in the rooms being used. We are currently considering offering an option to add carbon emission off-setting points to client invoices.

Although we do not offer in-house catering, we look approvingly at caterers (seeking to be listed as preferred suppliers) who manage waste responsibly i.e. delivering food waste to registered charities or industrial agencies who employ ‘anaerobic digestion process’ to convert waste into biofuel or fertilisers….currently up to 30% of event waste is disposed of irresponsibly. 

We also look carefully at the bookings for opportunities to off-set the inherent carbon emissions involved (in the delivery of equipment, flowers, A/V etc.) by suggesting event bookers share the same suppliers for separate consecutive events and co-ordinate delivery and collection transport. It helps, in this instance, to have an extensive list of suppliers.

Trinity House Court-Room entrance

I believe venue managers need to get creative, join up the dots and think outside-the-box….for instance, if floral arrangements have been contracted for one event, and a subsequent booking also includes this element, we might, with the approval of the initial client booker, introduce the contracted florist to the secondary client so that flowers already in place can stay for an extended period (with light touch-ups). If requirements happen to coincide, it’s a ‘win-win’ situation with the original and secondary bookers receiving reduced invoices and the florist able to secure a second revenue for the same outlay. The same applies to other consecutive bookings….as a venue manager, we are uniquely placed to connect event suppliers to bookers in order that, where possible, costs can be shared.

We also encourage event bookers to research and adopt eco-oriented suppliers and services…such as non-plastic delegate name badge options – there are companies that can assist to produce immediate on-site, on demand bio-degradable quality badges, thus also eliminating no-show print production waste. 

Going digital wherever possible will also make a collective difference and there are a burgeoning number of companies who offer a range of personalised and interactive engagement services designed to eliminate paper/print, including the ubiquitous goody bag, still much too evident at many events. Goody bags should, at least, be responsibly sourced using environmentally friendly products and the three R’s – ‘reduce, recycle and reuse’. Going forward, it’s clear we all need to make more of an effort to ensure ‘Sustainability’ is a consideration that is included in venue and event management logistics and budgets.

Trinity House Luncheon Room thru CourtRoom
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