Green planning for events

For each event you need to establish baseline information on current environmental performance, and identify specific opportunities for ‘greening’ the event.

Developing an environmental policy

When developing an environmental policy for your event:

  • make a firm commitment to reduce the environmental impacts associated with hosting your event
  • ensure all main partners approve the policy to establish a solid commitment to the programme
  • pick 1 or 2 main objectives and focus on doing these well rather than trying to do everything
  • recognise the importance of communicating the greening policy and details of the programme to staff, suppliers, contractors, sponsors and officials, so everyone understands the objectives and the benefits and can play their part.

Setting objectives/targets

Determine what you want to achieve in setting your objectives. Objective targets need to be bold enough to be credible, but must also be attainable.

Once your objectives are set and agreed, develop a strategy that:

  • sets out the rationale for the objectives
  • determines what's going to be done to reduce the environmental impacts of hosting the event.

See Developing an environmental strategy for more information.

Greening focus areas and main considerations

Venue and location

Most New Zealand venues have green/sustainability policies. Find out what their greening policies are and ensure they are included in your plan. If the venue has an environmental policy or plan, ask to see it.

You could also ask specific questions, such as:

  • Waste – Does it seek to minimise waste and have recycling and composting facilities?
  • Energy efficiency – Does it have energy-efficient products and avoid unnecessary lighting?
  • Water efficiency – Does it have water-saving measures such as water-efficient taps and dual-flush toilets?
  • Staff – are staff aware of environmental policies and trained to implement them?

If a venue doesn't meet your environmental objectives, negotiate the policies to be included in venue contracts early in your event management phase.

Waste

Waste has possibly the most visible environmental impact of any event.

Work with:

  • your suppliers to minimise the use of individually packaged food and drink items and maximise the use of reusable, recyclable or biodegradable packaging.
  • the council to find out what recycling/composting facilities are available in the area.

Try to secure ‘value in kind’ support from your host city to help with waste.

Transport

Travel is often the largest contributor to costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • If you can, choose a venue that reduces transportation needs or is close to public transport.
  • Promote and advertise transport options to attendees before the event to ensure they're well informed of the most efficient ways to get to and from the event.
  • If the venue isn't within walking distance of public transport, offer a bus service to take attendees to and from the event.
  • Work with local transport operators and city councils to gain free or discounted travel.

The Ministry for the Environment can provide generic advice about offsetting emissions, as well as measurement and reduction activities.

Ministry for the Environment website(external link)

Suppliers and contracts

The suppliers you choose will also influence your ability to reduce the environmental impacts of your event. Being upfront and clear to potential suppliers on your green objectives can help you choose the right ones.

Ask potential suppliers and caterers about their environmental policies. You could ask if they:

  • minimise waste, eg by avoiding individually packaged items such as chewing gum
  • recycle and compost
  • source food, goods and services from local providers
  • use certified sustainable products
  • use energy efficiently.

Be clear at the start of the tendering process about your environmental requirements and, where possible, ensure they're included in contracts with providers.

Ask goods suppliers to identify supply chains. Using suppliers with short supply chains is not only good for the environment, it can be crucial if you run short of supplies.

Construction and temporary activities

Inevitably some form of construction work will be needed for an event. Temporary structures and activities might also be required.

A lot can be done to improve the economic and environmental performance of facilities, venues and temporary structures by using environmentally sustainable design principles and practices.

Try to ensure sustainable building materials are used whenever possible.

Legislation

Some aspects of greening a major event will be covered by requirements under the Resource Management Act, eg environmental effects during construction, and nuisance effects of noise for local residents.

Ministry for the Environment website — Resource Management Act(external link)

Talk to the local council early to find out whether resource consents are needed. The Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) website has links to council websites.

LGNZ website
(external link)

Tips for green planning

  • To make it easier for yourself as the event manager, develop your greening plan during the early stages of the event management process by 'information gathering' rather than 'creation'. For example, most venues have their own green policies. Collect this information at the outset when negotiating your venue contracts.
  • It's important to choose what is relevant, realistic and appropriate for your event. Don’t try to do everything. Every event has its own characteristics and it would be impossible to cover all eventualities, but whether your event is large or small, it will have many basic attributes in common with others.
  • The green message should be part of the event communications plan. It can be emphasised during the event lead-up, at the event itself, and as part of the post-event legacy. This should raise the awareness and the goodwill of potential spectators as well as other event organisers and owners.

Who to contact

In developing your major event greening plan, make early contact with the:

Documents that can help