© Philipp Kirschner

Leipziger Messe’s sustainability concept

In recent years, sustainability has gone from being a trend to a necessity – and the event industry is no exception.
Every two years, the German Convention Bureau (GCB) holds the "Sustainable Events Conference - Shaping the Future" (SECON), which showcases all sorts of exciting sustainability topics for the event industry. Leipzig hosted this conference in 2019 – not least because of its own progressive sustainability projects. In 2009, Leipziger Messe became the first major German trade fair company to be certified with the renowned sustainability seal.In 2022 it was awarded the Green Globe seal for the twelfth time.

We talked to Ronald Kötteritzsch, Director of Marketing at the Congress Center Leipzig, about Leipziger Messe’s sustainability concept, the importance of acting responsibly in the MICE industry, and Leipzig as an upcoming – and green – congress location.

Why is sustainability becoming more and more important in the MICE industry?

"Now that it is clear that we are heading towards 3.5 to 4 degrees of global warming, sustainability needs to be a high priority in every industry. A sustainable approach is of course also a big issue in the event industry, as large events in particular require considerable amounts of resources. This is why the MICE industry launched the Net Zero Carbon Events initiative in Glasgow in 2021, which includes the promise to produce no more greenhouse gases by 2050. So all those involved need sustainability concepts to help them operate in a climate-neutral manner. Some 200 event and conference venues have signed up, including Leipziger Messe."

Has the pandemic had a positive impact on the industry’s sustainability mindset?

"The pandemic has triggered a discussion about whether hybrid or digital events are more sustainable than face-to-face events. This is because 70 % of event-related emissions are generated by mobility. However, there is still insufficient research on the extent to which increasing energy consumption and the technical set-up at virtual events have an impact on climate change. Even if the exact effects are still difficult to assess, the pandemic is raising awareness of the sustainability issue."

What is the guiding principle behind Leipziger Messe’s sustainability concept?

"When we started looking at sustainability, we realised that you need two things to create a successful concept. On the one hand, a sustainable corporate culture, and on the other, sustainable process management with defined goals. If you only invest in your corporate culture, then you’ll have enthusiastic staff, but no one will know what goals they are working towards. By the same token, if you only clearly manage your goals without considering your staff, then there will be no consensus among your workforce.
So we decided on the motto Growth in Balance and a concept based on balanced give and take."

What are the goals of the sustainability concept?

"One important goal is saving resources. There are different approaches here.
  • Energy efficiency: In order to use energy more efficiently, we have been sourcing our energy from a combined heat and power (CHP) plant since 2014. Here we benefit from the way CHP works. It lets us use not only electricity but also heat for heating without having to resort to different providers.

  • Sustainable mobility: The majority of emissions related to an event are caused by mobility. We therefore encourage participants to travel by public transport.

  • Sustainable catering: Catering can also be a burden on the environment. Some 15–20 % of an event’s emissions are related to feeding the participants. Our catering company fairgourmet, for example, specialises in regional, in-season produce and certified organic and fair-trade products. In the event that disposable tableware is unavoidable, it is made of biodegradable or renewable raw materials, e.g. salad bowls made of the bioplastic polylactic acid."

Mobility generates a particularly large amount of emissions at events. How can congress planners actually benefit from the initiatives contained within the sustainability concept?

"When we compete for events or receive enquiries from organisers, we always send a statement underlining our concept of sustainable mobility. There we promote the inexpensive Deutsche Bahn event ticket for travelling to and from Leipzig, as well as the Leipzig congress ticket for mobility within the city by tram and bus. Travel to trade fair events by public transport is usually included in the admission price. When event organisers get in touch with the Leipzig Convention Team to plan their congress, the services offered include advice on sustainable mobility options for all participants."

What is special about Leipziger Messe’s sustainability concept compared to other locations?

"We don’t want to compare ourselves with other locations, because to us sustainability is not a competitive advantage, but an obligation. Colleagues at other locations are also doing a great job here. Even so, there is one thing we are particularly proud of in Leipzig: social sustainability. When people talk about sustainability, climate neutrality is the first thing that comes to mind. The social dimension is often neglected. But we at Leipziger Messe are also committed to social issues. Back in 2014/15 we provided an exhibition hall for refugees. Our exhibition hall 4 is currently ready for 1,700 people from Ukraine.
Leipziger Messe’s corporate values are characterised by an outward-looking attitude, tolerance and dialogue. These values help contribute to a sustainable society and are important to bring about change."

Can you tell me about planned events for 2022/23 that deal with innovative sustainability concepts?

"This year, from 18–20 May 2022 the International Transport Forum will be held at Leipziger Messe. This is an annual summit of transport ministers from around the world, in cooperation with the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). We were chosen as the event venue because we tick all the sustainability boxes.

The Deutsche Bahn management congress will also be held here this year. Here too, it is important that the congress value chain is designed to be as sustainable as possible.

From 9–12 May 2023, Leipziger Messe will host the world cycling summit Velo-city. We are expecting 1,000–1,500 participants from all over the world. Decision-makers from the worlds of politics and business as well as cycling clubs will discuss how to integrate cycling even more into the culture of big cities."

What is it about Leipzig that makes it a great location for sustainability?

"Organisers choose us as a congress location because the city of Leipzig is committed to sustainability in many areas. The Velo-city congress, for example, is a good fit for our city, because Leipzig is very bicycle-friendly. New cycle lanes are constantly being marked and installed in the inner city ring road. The International Transport Forum summit also fits well with our efforts to expand and promote public transport. Our integrated urban development concept INSEK Leipzig 2030 is full of initiatives from the areas of infrastructure, education, mobility, digitalisation, culture and participation and aims to transform Leipzig into one of the most progressive locations in Europe.  

In Leipzig, we are also in a position to offer congress participants a sustainable customer journey, not only in terms of mobility, but also with regard to accommodation. In addition, the partners of the congress initiative “Feel the spirit - do-it-at-leipzig.de” pursue a sustainable approach when organising events, for example with a particular focus on energy efficiency. Considerable importance is also attached to using existing resources. In order to meet the enormous power requirements of its numerous large, tech-heavy music and show productions, the QUARTERBACK Immobilien ARENA has been using 100 % green electricity since 2022. In addition, solar panels on the roof are an environmentally friendly way to heat water for the sanitary facilities. When it comes to sustainability, Leipzig practises what it preaches.

A third of Leipzig’s urban area also consists of green space. In the middle of the city, parks and the floodplain forest are an oasis where congress participants can unwind after events. The many canals and lakes are perfect for paddling and boating. The possibilities in Leipzig are simply endless."

Our interview partner

Ronald Kötteritzsch will be happy to answer any questions you may have about Leipziger Messe GmbH’s sustainability concept.

Mr Ronald Kötteritzsch
Director of Marketing Congress Center Leipzig / KONGRESSHALLE am Zoo Leipzig

Phone:  +49 341 678-8404
E-Mail: r.koetteritzsch@ccl-leipzig.de

FAQ area

What is a sustainability concept?

A sustainability concept is when a company or organisation commits to operating sustainably and to implementing a sustainability strategy in all areas of its corporate structure. These include the following factors:
  • Energy efficiency and using renewable energy

  • Using renewable raw materials

  • Environmentally friendly manufacturing processes

  • Promoting health and social justice among staff

  • Sustainable mobility.

For one thing, a sustainability concept is characterised by a sustainable corporate culture and sustainable corporate goals.

Does a sustainability concept only make sense for large events?

Leipziger Messe, the Congress Center Leipzig and the KONGRESSHALLE all pursue high sustainability standards for every event, regardless of its format or size. 

Do organisers have to create their own sustainability concept?

The sustainability concept is always provided when booking the event venue. Congress planners do not therefore need to create a new concept.

What factors are important when planning a sustainable event?

First of all, it should be clarified whether the event venue fulfils all the criteria for a sustainable event. It is best to include a questionnaire in the invitation to tender, which is filled in by the relevant conference venues. You should consider the following factors when planning:
  • Energy efficiency on site

  • Sustainable catering

  • Use of recyclable/degradable resources

  • Sustainable mobility: well-developed public infrastructure.


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