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A guide to Green / Environmental Accreditation Schemes. (conferences / meetings / exhibitions / parties / events)

19 Sep 20213m read

There are a mass of Green / Environmental Accreditation Schemes for the Events Sector out there. Many are paid for schemes, which means that many fantastic venues without the means or the will to pay slip through the net. Equally there are a mass of venues with lots of means and will which use the schemes for green washing / venues hiding behind flimsy accreditations etc. We at the Venue Booker have tried to tease out what the schemes really mean.

Green Tourism. Our rating of the scheme 8/10

700 venues & hotels across the UK are accredited using the Green Tourism standard. It is the only national certification programme endorsed by the UK National tourism agencies. Public and corporate sector venues include: Olympia London, Manchester International Conference Centre, Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Manchester United, Leeds University, BMA House, Central Hall Westminster, Glaziers Hall, and the QEII Centre.

Businesses opting to join Green Tourism are assessed by a qualified grading advisor against a rigorous set of 145 criteria, covering a range of areas, including energy and water efficiency, waste management, purchasing, travel, biodiversity and more. Those businesses that meet the required standard, receive a Bronze, Silver, or Gold award based on their level of achievement. They are regraded once every two years.

The aim of the scheme is primarily to allow those that pay to communicate their Green Credentials to their clients.

Fees are set according to a venues size. For Conference Venues / Hotels / Event spaces etc the costs are as follows:

Business Size (as determined by number of full time employees)

Micro 1-5:                            £150.00

Small 6-10                           £250.00

Medium 11-30                   £400.00

Large 31-50                         £550.00

Very large 51+                   £650.00

Green Key 9/10

Green Key is a voluntary international eco-label for hotels and tourism facilities that counts 3200 hospitality establishments in 65 countries. It is a long-lived programme with more than 25 years of existence. It is one of the largest eco-labels for hotels / conference venues / events spaces etc with a worldwide presence. Guidelines are set and then verified.

The Green Key programme places emphasis on providing full transparency of the criteria and the application process for any interested establishment, so an establishment is fully aware of the requirements and process before applying. Uniquely it is internationally recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). Stands are verified through regular on-site audits and that there is an independent third-party verification of the award.

As Green Key is managed by a non-profit charity, as such its service fees are lower compared to other for-profit schemes. In general, participation in Green Key can lead to decreased use of resources, and saving water and energy, for example, can eventually lead to cost savings as well.

Green Key, have 100+ criteria as part of the verification criteria. These criteria fall into 13 sections, where some sections focus on environmental/sustainability management and other sections focus on environmental/sustainability awareness-raising.

The management criteria include requirements concerning the saving of water and energy; the reduction of waste and the use of chemical products; promotion of sustainable and locally produced food and beverage products; requirements on labour, accessibility, and animal welfare standards; engagement of the surrounding community, etc. The awareness-raising criteria include requirements on the training and engagement of staff, information for and engagement of guests, requirements for suppliers and engagement with the local community.

Around half of the criteria are imperative and must be adhered to, while the other half of the criteria are guidelines. Green Key requires increasing compliance with the guideline criteria from 0% the first year and up to 50% after ten years of participation in Green Key. In addition, the Green Key criteria can be slightly strengthened at the national level compared with the international baseline standard.

Together with the criteria, there is a set of explanatory notes explaining the meaning of each criterion and what Green Key will check during the audits.

The criteria are revised around every five years in consultation with the national programme coordinators, the participating establishments, national and international partners (for example hotel chains), a range of external experts and the public. A new Green Key standard is in the phase of being approved and will be in effect from January 2022 to the end of December 2025.

Green Key is available for six establishment categories: hotels & hostels, campsites & holiday parks, small accommodations, conference centres, restaurants as well as museums and other tourism attractions. The criteria vary from category to category. The small accommodations criteria are eligible for small establishments, SMEs and micro-establishments with 1-15 bedrooms.

Clean City Awards 4/10

Each year, Clean City Awards Members are able to apply for an award to recognise their efforts and commitment to adopting sustainable practices. The awards are offered and accredited by the City of London Corporation. Experts from the City of London internal team form a major part of the judging panel.

Members are invited to complete an online application form for each of the categories and for Chairman’s Cup. The online forms gather a range of information about how your site operates and asks for supporting evidence to confirm the initiatives in place.

​Each site is then scored to establish which award – bronze, silver, gold – should be presented to each site. The highest scoring sites in each category are invited to present to a panel of judges in order to potentially win the “Category Winner” and “Chairman’s Cup” in their category. This process is known as the Final Judging.

Those invited to the Final Judging give a short presentation detailing initiatives in place, achievements so far this year and the reasons why they deserve to win the Category Winner or Chairman’s Cup. This is followed by questions from the panel.

An awards ceremony is usually held annually in the Mansion House to present the awards and celebrate members’ achievements. ​​

There is no external verification of the award.

ISO 14000 3/10

ISO 14000 is a family of standards related to environmental management that exists to help organizations (a) minimize how their operations (processes, etc.) negatively affect the environment (i.e. cause adverse changes to air, water, or land); (b) comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other environmentally oriented requirements; and (c) continually improve in the above.[1]

The requirements of ISO 14001 are an integral part of the European Union‘s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). EMAS’s structure and material are more demanding, mainly concerning performance improvement, legal compliance, and reporting duties.[2] The current version of ISO 14001 is ISO 14001:2015, which was published in September 2015.[3]

ISO accreditation can be secured either through self certification or third party certification.

The cost of certification (not accreditation) is approx. £2500

Green Mark 3/10

Green Mark is a rating system to evaluate the environmental friendliness of infrastructure assets, giving recognition to projects that have adopted enhanced environmental sustainability strategies and measures.

The scheme is relevant here because it pertains to the environmental credentials of the building as such it applies to Hotels / Conference Venues / Exhibition Space / Event Space etc

Green Accord 5/10

The Green Accord is an environmental accreditation that evidences green business practices utilising a self-assessment that is clear, with easy to implement actions.

The Green Accord provides an affordable route to improving environmental performance, reducing carbon emissions and business costs.

The Green Accord is suitable for all sizes and types of business.

Small Businesses can achieve recognition for reducing environmental impact, no matter how small the company, without incurring the expense of implementing a full Environmental Management System (EMS).

Larger Businesses can add to their EMS accreditation by demonstrating real working practices that further improve environmental performance and business savings.

Significantly the Green Accord has received endorsement from the Audit Commission together with the acclaim of many national awards.

If there are any schemes, we have not included please get in touch we would be delighted to add them to our list, see HERE.

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