isla Venue Roundtable: what did we learn?

The Venue Roundtable included an exciting content programme on focusing on venues sharing best practice and knowledge on event carbon measurement.

isla held its second ever Venue Roundtable at the Business Design Centre last month, and it was amazing to see such a great turnout from both our founding venue members and venue stakeholders from across the UK.

With a focus on venue event carbon measurement and the strategies and internal systems shifts needed to take this from policy to practise, the panel and subsequent two-part roundtable provided a wealth of insights. Below we look at a snapshot of what we learnt from the day.

The panel: Measurement and net zero: our journey

1. Measurement success requires collective alignment

Collaboration is an oft cited word on the journey to creating more sustainable events, but it was interesting to hear how this plays out when it comes to event carbon measurement for venues. Bryony Mitchison, Events and Sales Manager, Science Museum revealed that the venue has set a target of reporting on all events by 2025. As it’s in-house venue Illuminate has dedicated partner suppliers in White Light (AV) and Moving Venue (catering) – both of which incidentally are isla members and isla member sub-divisions respectively – she argued that they can work as a collective, understanding and implementing the changes needed to meet the above reporting requirements at the same pace. Anna Moscardini, Marketing Manager, ACC Liverpool revealed that the venue has committed to net zero by 2030 to align with the region, no doubt benefitting from the guiding principles outlined in the 2030 Net Zero Liverpool Action Plan and the actions and investment that will arise as a result.

2. Working for planet, can work for profit

Anna Golden, Commercial Director, Olympia revealed that post-event per show reporting is now becoming an increasing feature of RFPs and by extension business success. Moscardini also revealed that while people are reluctant to talk about sustainability as a commercial exercise, the reality is that green initiatives – such as the rollout of LED lighting and a planned switch from gas boilers to ground-source heat pumps at ACC Liverpool – will represent cost savings in the mid to long-term.

3. Venue operations and measurement: think 360

Energy is one of the key areas for venues to focus on when it comes to their environmental impact. But for a complete picture of this measurement area, you need to take the lens wider into your venue operations, says Claire Sellick, Marketing Manager, ExCel London. She cites the example of rigging at ExCeL London. Here aircon and heating is turned off during build and a dedicated traffic marshalling system is in place. With the latter lorries are allocated a queuing lane and coloured zone on the Lorry Way, to ensure a parking space closest to the stand / area required in the halls, ensuring on-site journeys don’t expend more energy than needed.

4. Start, even when you don’t have everything in place

Kate Vandenburg, Marketing and Communications Director, Business Design Centre revealed that the venue has been measuring its emissions since 2010, the same year it became certified CarbonNeutral, becoming the first venue of its kind to do so. This, she argues, took place before industry work had been done on measurement and event sustainability in earnest and before frameworks had been put in place. The moral? Start your carbon measurement journey, even when you don’t have all your ducks in a row. Adopt Kate’s recommendation of apportioning responsibility for measurement across your organisation if you don’t already have a dedicated sustainability/green team in place. Departments such as facilities, catering and more already do much of the heavy lifting when it comes to data collection, reminds Golden.

5. Scope 3: it’s important to take ownership of supplier relationships

While there was a consensus that Scopes 1 and 2 were the low-hanging fruit when it comes to Scope 3 solidifying supplier relationships is key. Sellick, argued that from a strategic point of view it’s important to own this relationship which is why ExCeL London is working with both isla and TRACE. Doing so can help venues take incremental steps towards addressing Scope 3 challenges – common of which include the fact that data-gathering can be resource-intensive and expertise can be lacking on either side. Sellick revealed that confidence in this ‘ownership’ piece is at a place where they have, as an example, put the onus on event exhibitors to deal with the waste themselves.

Roundtable: A best practice measurement pathway for venues

Venue Roundtable attendees came together to collaboratively develop a basic, better and best practice action framework for event measurement and reporting.

Download the outcomes here for actionable next steps across energy, travel, waste, food and post-event reporting. We hope this framework will encourage alignment of the industry, supported by the expertise of UK venues and venue stakeholders.

To learn more about isla venue membership, email our Membership Manager Susanna Zema at

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