Green Venue: the ascending trend of sustainable practices in mice industry

Green venue is a venue that adopts green practices or activities in order to reduce harms to the environments. The adoption of green venue practices will increase its operation efficiency especially water and energy management as well as reducing costs and gaining positive reputation.

Executive Summary

The trend of green venue has been raising after sustainability trends become a hot topic in the past several years. Many venues around the world implement many green practices in most of their operation processes, increase the awareness about the environment and follows the standard guides in order to achieve sustainability-related certification and becomes sustainable leader in MICE industry. The practices of green venue in MICE industry are not only gaining positive reputation but also reducing venue’s wastes by adapting waste management practices, controlling carbon emissions and efficiently minimizing water and energy costs.

Key Takeaways for MICE:

  • Many venues around the world have invested on developing sustainable designs, approximately 38% of the venue appearing to use green roof design which benefits in various ways such as reducing the needs for cooling and heating, natural air filtration and farming space. 
  • After adapting energy saving initiatives, Singapore’s Sand Expo and Convention Center has better energy efficient comparing to the similar conventions for about 42%.
  • By using wind energy and renewable biomass, Barcelona International Convention Centre reduced the emission of CO2 for up to 175 tons per year. 
  • Samyan Mitrtown can reduce the energy consumption from up to 50% comparing to the similar building by installing LED lights in a whole building.

Why most of MICE venues around the world go green 

Green venues are any venue that implements the sustainable practices by minimizing environmental impacts throughout its operations. The trend of green venue has bee­­­n raising after sustainability trends become a hot topic in the past several years. In the United States alone, the US meeting industry generated about USD770 in spending with approximately 1.8 million meetings, conventions and tradeshows. However, there was no measurement on how much the industry impacts on the environment. Many venues around the world have been stepping up in applying and adopting green technology and green practices in order to gain positive reputation, be more environmental concerns and to achieve sustainability-related certification such as LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification), the ISO 20121 Sustainable Event Management, ISO 14001 Environmental Management and EMAS (EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) certifications.

The practices of Green Venue 

Here are some sustainable practices that have been applied by MICE venues around the world:

  • The development of Green Spaces 

Most of convention and exhibition centers normally located on large acres of property; however, there are some free spaces available. Many venues around the world have invested on turning available spaces into green spaces including planting grass, trees, shrubs, etc.  Approximately 38% of the venue appearing to use green roof design which benefits in various ways such as reducing the needs for cooling and heating, natural air filtration and farming space. According to the Green Venue Report 2018, 15 venues come up with vegetable or fruit gardens for catering purposes which is a good practice for turning free spaces into valuable areas.

Vancouver Convention center was certified for LEED platinum for environmental friendly building in North America. The adoption of Green Roof landscape design is one of the venue’s highlights, with its six-acre living roof the venue is considered as North America’s largest non-industrial living roof. It consists of 400,000 indigenous plantations from the Gulf Islands, the green roof area is also considered as the natural habitat for various species includes insects, small mammals and birds. The roof of Vancouver convention center is natural home for four beehives where the venue can harvest the honey. The honey from the roof top garden will be used as present for clients and also for cooking. Moreover, the green roof also benefits to the venue as it can help releasing summer heat for up to 95% and retaining heat in winter for 26%. 

  • Venue’s sustainable waste management 

At present, waste management becomes significant challenges for most MICE venues. After the events, there are large volumes of waste left from visitors and exhibitors including decorations, printed materials, construction materials, carpet, foods and also genera wastes. Therefore, many venues come up with sustainable waste management practices including encouraging exhibitors to use recyclable or composable materials, separate wastes, avoid using single-use plastics, leftover foods to local people and converting waste to energy. 

Oregon Convention Center is considered as one of the best MICE venues that conducts sustainable practices in term of waste management. The venue comes up with the Waste Diversion Policy (WDP) and expects to reach 80% waste diversion rate. Each year, the venue can generate more than 500,000 pounds of materials to recycle, donate and compost. The venue has strictly prohibited the use of nonrecyclable materials and all wastes left from the events will be separated and sorted by hands before going to recycle processes in order to make sure that everything is suitable for recycle. Approximately, 141 tons of food wastes were composted and 56 tons of cardboard and 110 tons of carpet were recycled. The venue also donates unserved foods, furniture and construction materials used for creating booths in the events, about 23 tons of items were donated to local organizations and charity shops nearby.

  • Energy and water efficiency Management

Most of the large MICE venues normally have high utility consumption as well as its costs. Water and energy efficiency management would allow the venue to reduce the resources. Many MICE venues put effort on improving water and energy efficiency by using renewable energy, reducing the energy consumption, using efficient equipment and tracking the energy usage.  Installing energy efficiency lighting is considered as the common way, 46% of MICE venue around the world invested on installing LED lights. They expect to save up to USD100,000 within the payback period of 2 to 4 years, according to Green Venue report. Moreover, some venues appear to use occupancy sensors that will automatically control the lights by detecting the presence of people. For the better water efficiency, not only tracking the usage of water that allows the venue to manage their water consumption, about 28% of the venues around the world increase water efficiency by recycling rainwater to use in toilet, and 62% of venues have water refill stations for the visitors.

Singapore’s Sands Expo and Convention Centre was awarded for the LEED® platinum, considered as Asia Pacific’s most sustainable MICE venue. Sand Expo’s sustainable practices focus on improving energy and water saving efficiency. The venue appears to have achieved 42% and 66% higher energy and water efficient than other similar size buildings around the world. The venue increases energy efficient by installing LED lights, solar panel system and intelligent systems that automate lighting, heating, air-conditioning and water. Glass façade, the venue’s structural glass, allows daylights to go through the building and the brightness can be detected and adjusted via the use of photo censor which helps reducing energy consumption. In term of water efficient, the roof of ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands was decided to have curved shaped that could collect rain water. The collected rain water would fall into a pool underneath and some of them can be used in the toilet flush system.

  • Carbon Emission Controlling

The meeting industry generates high carbon emissions as one meeting normally has high electricity consumption. According to MeetGreen's statistics, three-day with average of 1,000 people conference produces approximately 530 metric tons of Co2 emissions. Therefore, venues foresee this problem and try to control their carbon footprints. According to Green Venue report, in 2018, about 54% of venues have tracked their carbon emissions and 21% have tracked their carbon emissions and provide to event organizers without additional cost. The tracking of carbon emission will help the venues realize and understand their environmental impacts for future improvement. Many venues offset their carbon emission by reducing energy consumption within the venues, encouraging visitors to visit venue by using public transportation and investing on renewable energy.

Barcelona International Convention Center is another venue that obtains sustainable practices by following the ISO 20121 Sustainable Event Management, ISO 14001 Environmental Management and EMAS (EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) certifications. The venue can counterweight and control its carbon footprint by providing organizers options of doing activities that have less harms to the environments. The venue also invested on producing wind energy and renewable biomass instead of fuel from wood, which hep reducing the emission of CO2 for up to 175 tons per year.

Green Venue and Thailand’s MICE industry

The implementation of Thailand MICE Venue Standard (TMVS)  

  • Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) has launched the implementation of Thailand MICE Venue Standard (TMVS) and 6 MICE standards in order to enhance Thailand’s MICE industry. Any MICE venues in Thailand can be certified by TCEB if they can achieve the standards including ISO 50001 (Energy Management System), ISO 22000 (Food Safety Management System), TISI 22300 (MICE Security Management System), ISO 20121 (Event Sustainability Management System), ISO 22301 (Business Continuity Management System). TCEB is working on introducing Thailand Sustainable Event Management Standards as the organization foresees the important of sustainable and environmental concern trends around the world. Moreover, TCEB is also working on encouraging Thailand’s MICE venues to develop green practices by providing sustainable practice guidelines such as the Carbon Footprint Assessment Guideline for Exhibition Industry.
  • Queen Sirikit National Convention Center - Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC) is considered as Thailand’s first convention center and the first green venue in Thailand and Asia that was certified for ISO 20121 (Event Sustainability Management System). The venue has been focusing on sustainability and energy efficiency since the beginning of the venue’s construction process in 1989. The building was constructed by using a space frame which was new structural technology that helped reducing the construction time for up to 90 days. QSNCC is located near the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) station; visitors can visit the venue by using public transportation instead of driving their individual cars which will help reduce the carbon emission. As cycling can reduce carbon emissions for ten times less than driving car. TCEB, together with QSNCC, had installed bicycle parking spot in order to encourage staffs and visitors who live nearby to visit the venue by cycling.
  • The QSNCC is now closed for renovation so many events have to move to other places nearby.  Samyan Mitrtown, a newest mixed used development for MICE, located in the center of Bangkok near QSNCC and MRT lines. The venue consists of 2 halls, each one can support about 1,500 people, 1 multipurpose room for 200 guests, 5 meeting rooms and VIP rooms. The venue has developed sustainable practice in term of energy efficiency. Samyan Mitrtown can reduce the energy consumption from up to 50% comparing to the similar building by installing LED lights in a whole building.  And 20% of the venue is green space including the outdoor garden where visitors can relax and can be used for exhibiting outdoor event.

Moreover, The PARQ, a new mix-used project will be ready for MICE travelers in 2023. The project aims to highlight and strengthen the role of QSNCC as the largest MICE hub in the central area of Bangkok. The second phase of The PARQ project includes premium office space and hospitality for business people and visitors who would like to attend the events in QSNCC which located nearby. The building will unite sustainable designs by following LEED Gold and WELL certifications, the most popular green building certification programs and WELL Gold certifications. The new innovative architecture building is designed to be surrounded by green areas including 3,400 square meter open-air rooftop garden. Low-emissivity glass windows are the main materials used for the building construction. The Low-E window will help reflecting the heats, make the building cooler and allowing the natural lights to go through the building. The PARQ will be a new sustainable venue for green meeting industry.