Sustainability is, quite rightly, at the forefront of the business event industry’s agenda. The move to more sustainable events is now consistently one of the top priorities for both organisers and delegates. And, at last November’s COP 26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, global event sector leaders pledged to become a net zero carbon industry by 2050.
This ambitious target is a clear call to action that requires creativity and innovation in the sector as it strives to achieve its sustainability goals. And one European nation is currently leading the charge.
We look at how Denmark is fast becoming a shining example for sustainable venues that we should all be inspired to follow.
As a nation, Denmark has long led the way in environmentally friendly living. It’s capital, Copenhagen, is consistently ranked in the top 10 most sustainable cities in the world. The city is also on track to become carbon neutral by 2025 and the country as a whole has 95% of its energy needs met by hydropower.
So, it is only to be expected that this commitment to sustainable living is also reflected in Denmark’s approach towards its conference and business events venues. But what sets this Scandi nation apart is its ‘out of the box’ innovation and creativity when it comes to making its venue spaces green.
Denmark’s approach towards minimising its impact on the planet includes creating sustainable venues that don’t shy away from wow factor. In fact, their unique take on problem solving has led to the creation of some remarkable solutions. And these solutions have been translated throughout its business events sector, from its service suppliers, transport, and hospitality to the venues themselves.
Looking at some of the leading conference venues in the country, the first thing that springs to mind is the creativity and innovation that has been employed to bring Denmark’s sustainability drive to life.
In Copenhagen’s premier venue, the Bella Center has more than a few eco surprises. The largest convention centre in Scandinavia, it takes a ‘360 degree’ approach towards sustainability. From a strict Supplier Code of Conduct to food waste initiatives, in which guests are proactively encouraged to take food home with them, the Bella is committed to the hospitality industry’s Green Key standards.
But it is also a venue that likes to add its own sustainability twist. And this is where, as an exemplar of sustainable venues, the Bella is truly inspiring. Its new multi-arena, for example, was built using upcycled Carlsberg beer kegs. And it gives its roof spaces over to some 600,000 bees as part of a project to protect the species while creating their own honey. The centre also partners with environmental project, ByBi, recruiting their beekeepers among the long-term unemployed, the homeless and refugees.
However, Copenhagen doesn’t have the monopoly on creatively sustainable venues. Venture outside the capital and you find more innovative venues that put conference tourism and a commitment to green practices on a level playing field. And the experience for delegates is remarkable.
You have organic, plant-based menus and solar energy (Scandic City Aarhus), green roofs, remote cooling, and rainwater collection (Tivoli Hotel & Congress Center), and 100% wind power (Aalborg Congress & Culture Center), to name but a few. And for a total sustainability curveball, the Green Solution House on the island of Bornholm comes out tops. Built using only sustainable materials, this venue is the hallmark of green innovation, not least for its food-waste bio fuel and use of grazing sheep instead of lawnmowers.
The takeaway from Denmark’s approach towards sustainability in its business events industry is that sustainability is built from the bottom up. And that it doesn’t mean creativity and the delegate experience should be compromised. In fact, by incorporating sustainable innovation at every touch point, the experience is elevated to a whole new level.
There’s no doubting that Denmark’s sustainable event sector is inspiring. And it is also getting other global conference destinations to sit up and take notice. Not least in Scotland.
The Edinburgh International Conference Centre has been namechecked by the Global Good Awards as one of the UK’s best sustainable venues. And, supported by VisitScotland, more venues are being motivated to deliver truly sustainable events.
While the Dundee region has yet to have its own dedicated sustainable event venue, the appetite is there, says Karen Tocher, of the Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau.
“As a region we offer an incredible experience for both conference organisers and delegates and are proud of the sustainability measures embraced by our varied locations and venues.
“To add a purpose-built sustainable conference centre to the portfolio will enable us to channel our innovation into a central location and reinforce our position as a leading conference destination, now and into the future.”