Eleven tips for making sustainable events a success

Sustainability is one of the most important topics of our time. And the event industry is taking note. But how can you conserve resources at events, make mobility sustainable and take social aspects into account? We have eleven tips to achieve all this.

1. Local transport instead of cars

Leipzig’s public transport authorities (LVB) use 100 % green electricity for the city’s trams and electric buses.

100 % green electricity, 100 % sustainable: since 2018, Leipzig’s trams have been running on electricity from renewable energy sources. The LVB ordered a whopping 60 gigawatt hours for 2018 and 2019 alone. The clean electricity is mainly generated in Norway’s hydroelectric power plants. This is not only used for the trams, but also powers the electric buses. The fleet is steadily growing: by the end of 2021, there were already 21 e-buses on routes 89, 74 and 76, with ten more on their way in 2022.

2. Sustainable conference hotels

The Westin Leipzig first Certified Green Hotel in Saxony

Multi-award-winning: with 436 rooms, 32 suites and 52 meeting rooms, The Westin Leipzig is one of the city’s top events venues. For the year 2020/21, the CERTIFIED institute named it Saxony’s best and most sustainable convention and conference hotel. As a Certified Green Hotel, The Westin Leipzig stands for responsible and sustainable use of resources and fair treatment of staff and suppliers. In terms of cuisine, this premium hotel relies on regional and seasonal ingredients, thus contributing to a sustainable event industry.

3. Sustainable event venues

QUARTERBACK Immobilien ARENA – Bees and solar power

The green areas at Leipzig’s QUARTERBACK Immobilien ARENA are teeming with bees. In October 2019, twelve bee colonies from local suppliers KirschenGarten were settled here. A year later, the colonies already yielded some 248 kg of spring honey and 96 kg of summer honey. The bees are just one aspect of QUARTERBACK Immobilien ARENA’s commitment to sustainability. The venue already relies on green electricity and has installed its own solar panels. These serve as an environmentally friendly means of providing hot water for the sanitary facilities. What’s more, most ingredients for meals are regionally sourced and there is a carefully planned waste management concept.

4. Climate-friendly catering

With vegetarian and regional dishes

Eating delicious food and protecting the climate at the same time – that doesn’t have to be a contradiction. On the contrary: an increasing number of restaurants and caterers now rely on regional products as well as organic and Fairtrade certification for their delicious in-house creations. One company which is leading the way here is fairgourmet GmbH. Central Germany’s best-performing caterer attaches great importance to sustainability throughout the value chain. This includes, for example, fairly traded coffee beans, bread from Leipzig, meat from the local Erzgebirge region and measures to reduce CO2 emissions in logistics. 

5. Reduce air travel

Or, alternatively, offset CO2

There’s no question that compared to flying, travelling by train is far more environmentally friendly. According to calculations by the German Environment Agency, a train generates 50 grams of greenhouse gases per person and per kilometre. For cars, that figure is three times as much, or 152 grams, while domestic flights churn out five-and-a-half times as much: 284 grams. So taking the train is an excellent way to protect the climate. It is often also possible to work comfortably on the train, saving valuable time. If travelling by air is your only option, we recommended offsetting the emissions with projects like atmosfair. The money is used, for example, to expand renewable energies in emerging countries.

6. Guarantee accessibility

People with disabilities should also have access to events

Being sustainable also means treating all people fairly. This includes not just fair wages, but also accessibility at events. People with disabilities should have the best possible access to events. An excellent example of greater accessibility is the audio guide at the KONGRESSHALLE am Zoo Leipzig. The audio description offers blind and visually impaired visitors the opportunity to get to know the venue in detail. Our tip: the operator of the QUARTERBACK ARENA Leipzig also offers audio descriptions at selected events – an inclusive service unlike anything else in Germany.

7. Promote inclusion

And support inclusion projects

Inclusion is an important aspect of social participation. Because inclusion means really involving everyone – no matter what language they speak, where they come from or whether they have physical or mental limitations. In Leipzig, for example, there is a very charming ‘inclusion hotel’ for this very purpose. In the historical setting of the listed former vicarage of St Philip’s Church, people with and without impairments worktogether on an equal footing and as a matter of course. Staying in the hotel is therefore a good way to support inclusive projects at the same time.

8. Conserve resources

Green electricity also improves our carbon footprint

One role model for the responsible use of resources is Zoo Leipzig. In 2014, it became the first German zoo to introduce an environmental management system certified according to EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme). Since then the zoo has planned and implemented environmentally friendly improvement measures every year. Compared to the reference year 2013, Zoo Leipzig saved 24,207 tonnes of CO2 in electricity and district heating from 2014 to 2019. One third of the success is due to energy-saving measures, and two thirds to the switch to green electricity from hydropower. In addition, there are various species conservation projects.

9. Get advice

Agencies can support you in implementing sustainable events

Sustainability is one of the biggest topics for the MICE industry. Many companies want to conserve resources and protect the environment at their events. This is why congress agencies and other companies now offer their consulting services in this area. For example, the agencies F&U confirm, event lab. and akd congress & events have expanded their range of services in this regard, making them experts at implementing sustainable events. F&U confirm, for example, is a professional congress organiser and signed up to fairpflichtet, the sustainability code of the German-speaking event industry, back in 2016. 

10. Keep it social

Helping and supporting others

Sustainability also means taking responsibility and strengthening social involvement. It doesn’t always have to be huge donations – sometimes it’s the small gestures that make a big difference. This is exactly what the agency event lab. GmbH does with its campaign KLEINeGeste, which means “small gesture”. And the name says it all: repairing a sofa for a day care centre, collecting relief supplies for refugees from Ukraine, organising a Christmas party for the local children’s charity. The project shows that sometimes it doesn’t take much to do something good for others. And we’re convinced that lots more companies should give it a go!

11. Anchor sustainability permanently

Within your company and at your event

Something is only sustainable if it is established in the long term. This simple realisation is a good way to summarise the issue. Because if only one event is sustainable and nothing changes in the long term, then the effects will quickly fizzle out. That is why companies should anchor sustainability broadly and permanently. For example, central CSR management makes sense in order to give the topic the priority it deserves. Regular training can also help to create greater awareness. Those who then choose sustainable hotels, venues and travel options for the event itself, can make a simple contribution to more sustainability.
Conserving natural resources, keeping our environment intact – these are the big issues of our time. In addition to sustainable mobility and resource efficiency, this also includes aspects of social justice and social participation. The event industry can play its part here – for example by giving preference to trains when getting to and from the destination. Today there are also a wide selection of sustainable hotels, venues and caterers to add new, environmentally friendly touches. But it can also be the small gestures that make a big difference, for example by supporting social projects. Whatever you decide – the Convention Team at Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH will be happy to advise you.


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