With corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability now integral to many companies’ policies, it is only natural that these priorities have also found their way into meeting places and corporate events venues. If your company is looking for a London business venue with green credentials, you’ll be pleased to hear that the capital has come a long way.
But how do you go about finding a sustainable venue?
What is a green business venue?
The first hurdle in your search for a green venue is how to verify the claimed green credentials of any events venue. There are no official measures that can be used to prove or disprove them. At present, the best we have are these 3 organisations who will certify venues as environmentally friendly:
British Standards Institute
ISO 20121 is a standard for organising events that came to prominence during the preparations for the 2012 London Olympics and its commitment to be environmentally responsible. ISO 14000 is the standard that venues must achieve in becoming more eco-conscious in their daily operations.
BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is the world’s largest established method of assessing, rating and certifying building sustainability. Certification can be awarded to new or existing buildings in consideration of the efficiency (improvements) of the building and the sustainability of the construction materials used.
Green Tourism Awards
Green Tourism is a non-profit scheme supported by VisitEngland which accredits and monitors environmentally friendly tourism/leisure businesses including meeting spaces and conference venues. Members are audited every 2 years on improvements made to buildings and business processes, and are awarded gold, silver or bronze status.
What’s the best way to approach your search for a green venue?
If environmental responsibility is a key factor in your choice of the perfect business venue, you must treat it as a deal breaker. Give preference to conference venues, meeting and event spaces whose sustainability policies align with those of your company.
Look far and wide, and outside the usual brief, to source the right venue for your event. Consider unusual, quirky and unique spaces that fit the sustainability brief and may be available for corporate hire. As the choice of totally sustainable venues in London is unfortunately still limited, you may need to compromise to find a space that fulfils the majority of your criteria.
Of course, while you’re searching for the best fit, it’s important not to neglect all the other important requirements for a suitable business venue, such as location, style, size, budget, configuration, facilities etc.
5 green corporate events venues in London
We’ve scoured the capital for some suitable venues to get you started on your quest for the perfect green business venue – here are out 5 favourites:
The Crystal on London’s Royal Docks is a unique and innovative venue in addition to being one of the world’s greenest buildings. Its green credentials are truly impressive and include a gold Green Tourism award and a BREEAM ‘outstanding’ rating among others. The quirky building is run entirely on solar energy and ground source heat, while rainwater harvesting and black water treatment and automated building management systems are built into the contemporary design. There are 9 multi-purpose meeting rooms with additional breakout areas available to dry hire, as well as an auditorium with a capacity of max. 270 delegates, complete with state-of-the-art conferencing equipment. Generous event space abounds both inside and out, and there’s even a permanent exhibition showcasing The Crystal’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
Claiming to be Central London’s most sustainable venue, this contemporary and versatile conference and meeting room venue offers 7 flexible, functional and very stylish event spaces for up to 550 delegates in the heart of London. Boasting cutting edge facilities to high environmental specifications, 15 Hatfield has a strong sustainability policy, carries the Green Tourism Gold Award and a certification of the NQA Sustainable Development Management Scheme. With organic, locally sourced and fairly traded food provided by sustainable a sustainable catering firm, the venue has also implemented measures to help towards its zero waste to landfill initiative.
Tucked away among beautiful gardens in the heart of Hyde Park, The LookOut is a tranquil eco haven in a busy city, offering flexible blank canvas event space to fit any corporate brief. With wooden terraces, natural sculptures, ecological ponds and nature all around, this is a very special place – perfect for summer entertaining, press launches, business presentations, workshops, conferences and more. The bright modern indoor venue has a maximum capacity of 100 delegates and comes fully equipped with SMART board technology and WiFi. For imaginative outdoor events, stretch tent and tipi hire, fire pits and wood burning pizza ovens are available on request. The gardens and adjacent Edwardian Gatehouse are lush locations for al fresco lunches and breakout areas.
ORTUS Learning and Events
Located in Camberwell, South London, ORTUS prides itself on being is a multi award winning, high tech and eco friendly event venue with over 1,500 square feet of dedicated flexible event space over 7 levels. ORTUS’ green credentials are impressive, starting with the building itself which received a BREEAM ‘excellent’ status for its sustainable and environmentally friendly architecture and construction. All event suites can be configured to meet any corporate brief – including dining/buffet style, theatre style and classroom layouts – for functions for up to 80 delegates. The building makes full use of innovative technology and boasts panoramic views over the capital from the top-floor terrace.
Church House Conference Centre
Overlooking Westminster Abbey, this beautiful Grade II listed venue offers a historic environment for daytime and evening events with 19 function rooms and a capacity of up to 664 guests. The venue’s commitment to sustainability is in evidence through its many initiatives including measures to minimise the carbon footprint, efficient lighting systems, a commitment to recycling, reducing food miles and fair trade policies. There’s also a dedicated Green Events package.
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.