Nic Young
28 September 2017 00:00


The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) venue team works hard to minimise the negative impact its operations have on the environment and in addition to hosting some of the leading industry events such as Glee and RWM, its green credentials have resulted in a range of award wins over the last few years.

Most recently, in August 2017, the venue was re-accredited ISO 14001 certification, an internationally agreed standard that sets out the requirements for an environmental management system. This ISO standard helps organisations improve their environmental performance through more efficient use of resources and reduction of waste, which in turn can help gain a competitive advantage as well as the trust of stakeholders.

In this short blog, Steve Cartmell, NEC Group FM Contracts Support Manager and member of the Association of Event Venues (AEV) Sustainability Working Group, offers some tips to help businesses adopt best practice when it comes to delivering sustainable events.


  • Source items that are made from recycled materials and materials from sustainable sources


  • Minimise waste by ordering only the quantities you need


  • Encourage visitors to use of public transport to get to your event


  • Work with transport organisations to offer discounted travel


  • Work with relevant teams to ensure the efficient use of lighting, e.g. reduce or switch off lighting in void areas or where there is sufficient natural light


  • Encourage your contractors to use energy-efficient equipment, e.g. LED lights use approx. 80% less energy and can last up to 50 times longer than standard lighting


  • Work with your contractors to design features that are waste-free, e.g. use re-usable systems and make graphics re-usable by not including specific dates on them


  • Consider each of the materials to be used in your features, how they have been produced and what will happen to them after the event – aim to use recyclable materials where possible


  • Encourage exhibitors to use re-usable systems to build space-only stands


  • Talk to your contractors and other relevant stakeholders to find out about the waste-management systems that already in place so that you can make best use of them and ensure that the maximum amount of waste possible is recycled


  • If you are organising a food event, consider contacting a food bank local to the venue; they will be pleased to accept extra, in-date food at the end of each day


  • Encourage exhibitors to use electronic promotion and recording of visitors to their stands, rather than ‘give-aways’ and business cards


  • Ask your floor managers to liaise closely with contractors during build-up to identify and deal with waste materials appropriately


  • Think about your venue’s local community – you may wish to increase the positive impact if your event by considering donating unwanted materials to local schools and supporting a charity that is relevant to the event industry and/or the local area


This guidance - taken from the Association of Event Venues (AEV) eGuide - forms only a brief snapshot of activity.

The eGuide, an industry-specific guide developed following extensive consultation with operations professionals within the exhibition and event industry, is similar to that of an Approved Code of Practice.

Incorporating health, safety and operational practices that represent compliance with Building Regulations and health and safety legislation, the eGuide is continually reviewed by working industry professionals who represent the best advice currently available, and who themselves have to work within the guidelines in their own professional capacities.

You can access the eGuide in full through the following link:

For more information on ISO standards and what they can do for you - whether it’s linked to the environment or health and safety - check out