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. On the retirement in 2019 of incumbent manager, Edgar King, she was promoted to Head of Events. In 2017 Zoë completed a Master’s Degree in Event Management at the University of Greenwich, simultaneously holding down her job at Trinity House. She was 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 good to note the rising interest in the sustainability aspects of event management as this should be of increasing industry concern. Compared to Europe there are few venue-finding sites in the UK which incorporate ‘leaf’ icons or markers to denote venues and event suppliers which incorporate sustainable management practices.
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 – and continue to adopt – as many energy-saving practices as are practical and non-invasive, including going ‘paperless’ in the office; eradicating single-use plastics; switching to LED lighting, and ensuring heat/cooling mechanisms are as efficient as they can be in a building and applied only in the rooms being used.
Although we do not offer in-house catering, we look approvingly at caterers who manage waste responsibly – we take into account a potential caterer’s eco-oriented track record and credentials as well as the quality of their F & B and service before deciding whether they are a good fit. This might include a policy of 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 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. 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 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 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 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 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 prioritised in venue and event management logistics and budgets.’