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8 Tips for Effectively Prioritizing Venue Sustainability

Blog Updated: July 1 2024
Venue sustainability is reflected in an image of white seats and flowers.

Wondering how to make your meeting and event venues more sustainable? In this article, we dive into the topic and share 5 tips for making your meeting and event venue more sustainable.


It’s a big buzzword in events and meetings, especially for venues and their implementation of “green” practices. But eco-expectations have shifted—not only for general consumers but for the event and meeting attendees too. Venue sustainability means more than placing a few paper or glass recycling bins around a site in the minds of conscientious planners and guests.

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What is a Sustainable Event?

The ultimate goal of a sustainable event is to come out carbon-neutral. Learning how to make an event sustainable involves a commitment to reducing environmental impact through strategic, eco-friendly initiatives. Sustainable venues can use key practices such as recycling, water conservation, and collaboration with sustainable suppliers to minimize carbon emissions.

Event planners can minimize environmental negative impacts by adopting measures from recognized Green Meetings guidelines. This includes electronic distribution of materials, using mass transit-accessible locations, minimizing travel for attendees, and partnering with local conservation programs. These efforts aid in reducing carbon emissions and bolster social and economic outcomes for local communities, laying a foundation for sustainability that benefits future generations.

The Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) recently released a report that defines trends for destinations and venues in the event industry to improve their sustainability initiatives. The report defines a sustainable venue as a “place that actively accounts for the current and future economic, social and environmental impacts of the event and tourism industry while engaging and listening to the needs of the host communities, visitors, the industry and our living planet.”

As we explore how to make an event more sustainable, it is clear that the challenge to reduce our carbon footprint extends beyond simple measures. True venue sustainability is one that proactively considers its multifaceted effect on the economy, society, and environment. It’s important to understand how to create a sustainable event that aligns with these higher standards so that it can have a big impact on the community at large.

Why Venue Sustainability is Important

Economic Benefits

Eco-friendly venues are not only good for the planet but also economically beneficial. Incorporating sustainable practices saves money and increases operational efficiency by maximizing resource use and slashing utility costs. This alignment with the broader goals set by the United Nations in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development helps spur economic growth through sustainable means.

This concept is complemented by consumer behavior shifts, as seen in a report by First Insight. Many consumers, especially from Gen Z, are willing to spend an extra 10% or more on sustainable options, and venues that adopt green principles can capitalize on this trend. This reflects a growing market demand for eco-conscious choices.

Sustainability in meetings and events attracts forward-thinking event organizers and can improve business by encouraging innovation and enhancing market appeal. Event venues can position themselves as leaders in the push for a sustainable future, which broadens their customer base to include those who deal exclusively with ethical and environmentally friendly options. This strategic alignment not only meets current market demands but also sets a standard, ensuring long-term economic benefits associated with sustainability.

Social Responsibility

Venues that prioritize sustainability significantly enhance their appeal as socially responsible businesses. By implementing best practices, a sustainable event venue improves workplace conditions, which in turn boosts employee health and engagement. This positive impact creates a ripple effect: happier employees provide better service, and a positive work environment strengthens the venue’s reputation as an attractive employer in the community.

Additionally, prioritizing sustainability gives venues a competitive edge by building a strong brand image and fostering close community ties through reduced environmental impacts and active engagement. This not only improves local quality of life but also attracts customers and partners who value green initiatives. As a result, a sustainable event space will experience increased customer loyalty and uncover new business opportunities.

Environmental Impact

Venue sustainability is at the forefront of minimizing events’ environmental footprints. By integrating advanced energy-efficient technologies such as LED lighting and sophisticated HVAC systems, venues can significantly reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Adopting renewable energy sources further reduces carbon output, ensuring their operations contribute positively to long-term conservation efforts.

Beyond energy efficiency, venues committed to comprehensive waste management strategies can effectively reduce landfill waste by establishing robust recycling and composting programs. Additionally, when implementing water-saving measures, including low-flow fixtures and greywater recycling systems, they play an essential role in reducing water usage and conserving this critical resource.

Sustainable venues also advocate for using digital methods over paper-based, significantly cutting down on waste and emissions associated with transportation. They support sustainable transportation options, such as carpooling and public transit, to lessen the environmental impact of their events. Hosting a sustainable event lets you educate attendees, improve environmental awareness, and develop sustainable practices that extend beyond the event space into daily life.

How to Make Your Events More Sustainable

The GDS-Index report provides insight into how to make events more sustainable by highlighting practices from the leading sustainable business events and tourism destinations. Drawing upon practices, here are eight tips to make your meeting and event venue more sustainable.

1. Adopt sustainability as a core mindset

For a venue to successfully embrace sustainability as a core mindset, it has to be encouraged and supported by leadership throughout all operations.

Without wide acceptance, venues will be hard-pressed to answer these increasingly asked tough questions or RFPs requirements:

  • Does your venue have a sustainability policy?
  • Has your venue achieved any sustainability or green certifications, such as IACC Green Star, LEED, Green Key or Green Globe?
  • What measures are in place to conserve water and energy
  • How does the venue reduce waste and encourage recycling

2. Reduce your venue’s paper trail

To become “greener,” many meetings and events have already shifted away from traditional paper-based flyers, event programs, and directories.

The same concept applies to venues too. Digital marketing and communications are sustainable, eco-friendly and streamline internal processes. One sustainable idea venues can embrace is the use of digital floorplans and  immersive walkthroughs. Not only do these tools offer sustainable alternative overprint brochures and flyers, but they also allow clients to visualize exactly how their specific event will look in a venue space – an eco-friendly win for all!


3. Incorporate local, sustainable food and serving options

Whether a venue has an in-house food and beverage department or partners with preferred caterers, encourage and choose vendors who use locally and responsibly sourced ingredients.

Don’t forget about setting up water stations, and providing and using recycled or eco-friendly dinnerware in place of plastic dishes, silverware, and water bottles to reduce landfill waste.

4. Offer options for waste sorting and resource reduction

Plastic and paper recycling bins are mainstays for many venues. But what about other kinds of sustainable waste management – like that for food and water?

Increasingly, venues provide food waste compost bins and perform back-of-the-house manual waste-sorting, or donate leftover food to charitable organizations as part of the effort to keep food out of landfills and practice sustainable food-waste management. Venues are also retrofitting faucets or toilets to use less water, upgrading lighting or adding auto-on sensors throughout to reduce energy use, or even tapping solar or wind energy as renewable and alternative energy sources.

5. Upgrade ancillary venue details

While many sustainability practices focus on big details, don’t overlook the impact of small changes too. For example, the use of herbicides, pesticides and heavy-flowing water sprinklers outside the venue may quickly undo all other adopted sustainability practices.

Take stock of these often-overlooked items and remove or replace as part of a long-term sustainability focus:

  • Eliminate the use of toxic weed control chemicals on landscaping and incorporate more environmentally friendly options
  • Keep watering to a minimum by planting drought-resistant trees and shrubs or native plants
  • Check and replace the seals of facility windows and doors to prevent heating and cooling energy loss
  • Institute a “no idling” policy at the loading dock to minimize emissions from vendor trucks and delivery vehicles
  • In the bathrooms, replace paper towels with air dryers, or use metered soap dispensers to keep waste to a minimum

6. Promote Sustainable Transportation Options

Promoting eco-friendly transportation for your events dramatically cuts the overall carbon emissions. Choose venues accessible by public transport or within walking or cycling distance to encourage greener travel methods. Facilitate carpooling and partnerships with rideshare companies to further reduce vehicle use. Offering incentives for attendees using sustainable transport—like discounts or exclusive benefits—can boost participation and show your commitment to the environment.

7. Utilize Outdoor Spaces

Hosting events outdoors taps into natural beauty and significantly lowers energy use by reducing the need for artificial climate control and lighting. Outdoor settings offer a unique ambiance and encourage a minimalistic approach to décor, aided by daylight and the surrounding landscape. Carefully select natural venues that preserve local ecosystems, utilizing existing features to minimize environmental impact and enhance the event experience.

8. Opt for Eco-Friendly Decor and Supplies

Elevate your event’s sustainability by selecting eco-friendly decorations and supplies. Ditch single-use plastics and opt for recycled, biodegradable, or reusable materials. Consider compostable tableware, digital signage to replace traditional print, and decor incorporating organic elements like plants or flowers, which can be composted or rehomed afterward. Prioritizing these green alternatives minimizes waste and showcases the practicality and positive impact of mindful event planning.

Prismm’s digital planning platform helps venues become more sustainable through digital layouts and setups and reduce carbon footprints by eliminating the need for in-person site visits.

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