By Friends House CEO Paul Grey
Sustainability and environmental impact have become major subjects in the news and the events industry has had to progressively adapt its offer, as many event organisers and organisations now require more sustainable venues. However, for some event professionals sustainable still means less profitable.
Friends House is confident the two actually go hand in hand. So far, the figures have supported the hypothesis: in 2015, Friends House contributed £1.75m towards Quakers in Britain charitable work, of which £425k was gift-aided.
As a Quaker business, sustainability and environmental impact are at the forefront of our thoughts in everything we do. For us, to be an ethical conference venue means using 100% renewable energy, free from any form of fossil fuels. It also means recycling and having a zero waste to landfill policy. In 2015, the carbon footprint per delegate coming to Friends House was 2.7 tCO2e, a 4% decrease compared to 2014.
Choosing the sustainable path also meant challenging the way we procure our catering. Over the last few years, we have moved towards providing organic, Fairtrade and high welfare products. As a result, new, like-minded customers have come to us and spread the word about our pioneering and heartfelt approach, which makes me feel that we are doing the right thing.
In 2015, 321,000 visitors came to Friends House and 5,498 room bookings were made, which is a 19% growth compared to 2014.
Over the last five years, we have invested in our meeting rooms to make them more environmentally friendly. I believe that as an industry, we need to proactively change our ways to secure a sustainable future for the next generations.