Sustainability is not just something we should practice every now and then, or only when we are at home or in our offices; living sustainably is a lifestyle ingrained into our daily actions.
Current statistics show that Australia is one of the world's largest polluters on a per capita basis, with electricity and transport two of the biggest contributors.
As sustainability has gathered momentum in the events community and clients have become more aware of the environmental impacts created by their conventions and exhibitions, the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC), part of Star Entertainment Group, has committed to not only leading industry towards a more sustainable future for conferencing and events, but also adhering to the best environmental practices for venues worldwide.
That’s why we’ve put together the Green Event Guide to help our clients lower the carbon footprint of their event and become more aware of sustainable industry practices.
Whether you’re planning a large-scale, international conference or a more simple event, GCCEC’s Green Event Guide illustrates that planning a sustainable event doesn’t need to be complex or expensive – in fact sometimes it’s the most simple and inexpensive initiatives that are most effective.
Download this guide as a PDF:
Holding a sustainable event doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated; in fact GCCEC already has a range of best practices set in place to assist with sustainable event management.
In addition to the above initiatives:
- GCCEC is conveniently located within walking distance of more than 3,000 accommodation options.
- The Centre has worked with local suppliers to change the way goods are being packaged and delivered. Most suppliers are now using cardboard boxes that are recycled onsite.
- Leftover packaged and freshly cooked food is donated to national food rescue organisation OzHarvest, resulting in the redistribution of more than 7,000 meals since June 2014.
- GCCEC utilises Class A recycled (non-potable) water supplied by the Gold Coast City Council for the landscape irrigation system.
Becoming more environmentally aware doesn’t end at a series of guidelines though; it’sa global responsibility and one which is ingrained into the corporate culture of the GCCEC. The Centre continues to promote best practice and successfully integrates sustainability solutions into our own planning and ongoing business operations.
Why hold a sustainable event?
Sustainability is more than just reducing your impact on the environment. In today’s society there are a number of advantages to implementing sustainable and responsible event practices, both for the organisation and the environment. Businesses can benefit from saving on costs and resources, reducing waste, increasing productivity, enhancing company transparency and boosting the morale of delegates, while some of the other key benefits include:
Cutting back costs
Something as simple as eliminating paper or opting for local produce can cut back on the costs of your event. GCCEC carefully crafts its menu from 85 percent locally-grown and sourced ingredients.
Excelling benchmark practices; enhancing brand and reputation
As clients become more aware of the effects of their actions on the environment, they come to expect a certain benchmark of eco-friendly performance. Holding a sustainable event will not only enhance brand and reputation, but meet and excel the expectations widely accepted today as standard practice.
Encouraging market transformation
GCCEC works closely with its suppliers to reduce their environmental footprint, encouraging the development of sustainable industries. The Centre has worked with a number of suppliers to change the way goods are being packaged and delivered and has opted for carbon neutral, BioPack branded packaging in-house. This small change has allowed the business to offset 7 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the past year - that’s equivalent to almost 40,372 km travelled in a car.
We believe sustainable event practices encourage market transformation and hope to help in setting the benchmark for generations to come.
Your quick sustainability checklists
A sustainable event is not always easy to visualise. The following checklists suggest simple steps to reduce the environmental footprint of your event and implement more sustainable event practices.
- Limit disposable and non-recycled products sourced as part of the event.
- Select locally sourced materials contained in minimal packaging.
- Use reclaimed materials and vintage items where possible.
- Choose infrastructure that can be reused or recycled post event.
- Hire centerpieces from a local events supplier, purchase organic centerpieces such as flowers and fruit or source centerpieces that can be reused.
Top tip: You might consider auctioning the items off on the night for a good cause or donating reusable items to local schools or charity groups after the event.
- Source printing and design suppliers who abide by best environmental practice (recycled stationery and paper, vegetable inks and double-sided printing).
- Avoid metallic ink, varnishes and lamination as these products cannot be recycled. Limit or avoid using glossy paper which is more difficult to recycle.
- Assess whether promotional materials such as banners and posters can be reused from previous years, or purposely design material that can be used year in and out.
- Check the environmental credentials of preferred suppliers.
- Encourage delegates to register and access event information online or make the information readily available on tablet and smart phone devices.
- Send event confirmations electronically where possible.
- Ensure your event communication includes a sustainability message reminding people to think before printing.
- Consider podcasting the event to reduce softcopy notes.
- If printing, choose recycled content paper containing post-consumer fibres and ensure all printed conference material is double sided.
- Recycle communication materials such as name badges place cards and lanyards. GCCEC will provide recycling facilities at your next event.
Did you know...?
Each year Australians consume approximately 1.7 million tonnes of printing and writing paper, the equivalent to tens of millions of trees. By using recovered fibres, recycled content paper can help lower the quantity of paper disposed to landfill and consequently reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as methane. The manufacture of recycled content paper also consumes significantly less energy and water as compared to the manufacture of paper from virgin fibres^.
^Information sourced from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
GCCEC’s menus consist of 85 percent locally sourced products. Vegetarian and vegan meal selections are available as more environmentally sustainable options requiring less energy input as compared to livestock farming.
As part of catering requirements, GCCEC requires attendance numbers to be confirmed two weeks prior to the event date. This is a key contributor in helping reduce food waste, while leftover packaged and freshly cooked foods are also redistributed to local charities through Australian company, OzHarvest.
- Ensure exhibits are made from recycled materials or where possible, look to order materials you can reuse at a later date. The Centre works with preferred exhibit or suppliers who use environmentally friendly materials.
- Promote the sustainable considerations of the event to exhibitors or provide incentives to encourage exhibitors to get on board.
- Encourage delegates to select local accommodation. There are more than 3 ,000 accommodation options located within walking distance of GCCEC.
- Ask delegates to reuse towels and linens in their hotel rooms, and to turn off lights and air conditioning when exiting.
- Promote carbon offsetting to delegates who are flying. Voluntary carbon offsets cost a small fee when booking flights but can have a significant positiveimpact on the environment.
- If delegates are hiring a car, encourage them to choose a model known for its good fuel economy. Most major hire companies now offer high efficiency and/or hybrid car options.
- Promote mass transportation and car pooling options before and during the event. Alternately, GCCEC is conveniently located just metres from G:Link’s Broadbeach North Station – a 13-kilometre light rail network which offers a safe and affordable alternative for delegates staying between the Broadbeach and Southport area.
- Consider offering video conferencing options for those delegates who cannot travel to the event.
- Remind delegates to enable sleep mode on laptops and other technology devices at the event.
- If purchasing electrical equipment, opt for products displaying a higher star rating and efficiency.
- Consider hiring reconditioned laptops to reduce costs and waste.
- Ensure any electronic waste (including print cartridges) from the event is recycled. A number of companies will recycle computer waste for free.
- Opt for eco-friendly, biodegradable, recycled products such as organic and/or carbon neutral food and wine.
- Choose locally crafted organic gifts rather than those made from synthetic materials.
- Avoid using wrapping paper with foil, glitter or cellophane as these materials can’t be recycled.
- Consider gift certificates to reduce the risk of unwanted gifts.
- Offer conference materials as an optional item to reduce individual consumption. Leftover or unwanted conference materials such as satchels and notepads can be donated to underprivileged schools or shelters, or where generically branded, repurposed for the following year.
Top tip: Instead of a synthetic gift, why not choose an eco-friendly one? For local, interstate and international events, a number of companies now offer environmentally friendly gift ideas made from recycled materials.
Three easy steps to a more sustainable event
While there’s endless options available to you, holding a more sustainable event doesn’t need to be complex or expensive to be effective. The following are three simple steps to help you walk a little greener and achieve significant carbon savings at your next event.
1. Choose local accommodation options within walking distance to the event
500 delegates each reducing car travel by just 5km over a three day conference equates to 857kg CO2e (carbon dioxide emissions) in savings - the equivalent of a car driving from Melbourne to Townsville.
2. Use online registration as an alternative to paper
Online registration is not only convenient for delegates, but 500 delegates saving 500 sheets of paper is the equivalent of 3.8kg CO2e, or a 20W light bulb running for over 200 hours.
3. Reduce conference materials distributed at the event
Conference packs containing promotional materials, pens, notepads and brochures often have a short life span and are not always wanted by all event participants. Carefully assess the environmental impact of your products. Cutting back conference packs typically containing a satchel, notepad, brochure and a CD by 50 percent for 500 delegates is the equivalent of 232kg CO2e, or a fully laden articulated truck travelling for 125 kilometres.
* All calculations are based on a three day conference for 500 delegates. Equivalent carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e) for the three scenarios have been calculated by Life Cycle Strategies and are accurate as of April 2011.
Download this guide as a PDF:
The Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) is a world leading sustainable venue for conferences, conventions, meetings and events. The GCCEC is committed to the continued cultivation of environmental and social stewardship.
As the first convention centre in the world to have achieved the coveted EarthCheck Gold status, which recognises the Centre's commitment to operating at the world's highest environmental standards. Learn more about our sustainable initiatives and accreditation, or contact us for further information about holding a green event at the GCCEC.