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Sustainability focus for Leeds conferencing venues

Jennifer Young, Associate Director of Visitor Economy at ConferenceLeeds and VisitLeeds

With sustainability set to be a key trend in 2016, Jennifer Young, Associate Director of Visitor Economy at ConferenceLeeds and VisitLeeds, shares examples of innovative Leeds conferencing venues.

Leaders from across the industry are calling for sustainability to be at the forefront of the conferencing agenda for 2016, with conference and event organisers having the ability to impact thousands of people at a time at large scale events. With 84 venues across Leeds achieving and maintaining the Green Tourism Business Award, compared to 49 in the Midlands and 55 in the North East, this is something that has very much remained at the heart of what we do in the city and its surrounding area.

With Leeds hosting 54,200 events in 2014 and welcoming 3.87m delegates to the city, the collaborative approach between ConferenceLeeds and the venues across the city is crucial in ensuring sustainable operations, with everything from transport links to choosing regional food suppliers. ConferenceLeeds offers a completely bespoke experience for every event that comes to the city, meaning that each venue works in different ways to achieve sustainable operations. We work very closely with our venues so that we can share best practice throughout the city and the wider conferencing sector.

One example we have recently seen is from MEETinLEEDS, The University of Leeds’ conference, meetings and events arm, which launched a completely bespoke website that was created for the European Society for Ecological Economics International Conference. Running alongside the website was a specially designed app, allowing delegates to access all the information they needed, which drastically reduced the amount of paper that was sent out to delegates.

As well as this, bike hire was organised for delegates and they were also offered the opportunity to offset part of their travel by buying permits to help prevent pollution under the Sandbag scheme. It is this commitment to sustainability that has lead to 10 of the University of Leeds’ residential and conference sites achieving Gold Standard for sustainability, as awarded by the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

Another Gold Standard Leeds venue, Royal Armouries International PLC, has held its accreditation since 2009. The Green Tourism Business Scheme praised Royal Armouries International PLC for up cycling and recycling props following large-scale events, scoring the venue 100% for innovation in its most recent assessment. Not only this, it scored highly for its creative use of LED lighting throughout and its creation of a guide to hosting green exhibitions.

Weetwood Hall Conference Centre and Hotel has also achieved Gold standard accreditation from the Green Tourism Business Scheme, after being commended for encouraging guests at the hotel to recycle all waste and for excellent overall management of sustainable operations. One area in particular in which the venue excelled, was its implementation of a food waste collection service for its kitchen waste, composting all food waste and selling this on to local farms.

The conferencing and events sector has the power to influence huge environmental change across the UK, with every decision to become more sustainable potentially affecting thousands of people. We are extremely proud of all of our unique venues throughout Leeds and the ConferenceLeeds team works hard with each venue to ensure that Leeds, and all events that come to Leeds, are as sustainable as possible.

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