ISO20121 Essential for the Future Success of Event Venues?!

Good sustainable practice in a time of planetary crisis has never been so important.

As a responsible company, organisation or venue, your duties extend globally towards people, the environment and society. The future success of event management lies within the development of a ‘green relationship’; conserving the world’s resources and reflecting upon your carbon footprint.

It is essential that environmentally responsible decision-making is incorporated by venues within the event industry today, thus allowing companies to develop alongside industry trends and environmental regulations. A ‘green’ venue is a very visible demonstration of your organisation’s commitment to sustainability. Adoption of ‘green’ policies show you’re continuing to grow as a company and enabling change in how you operate. Flexibility – its vital!

As a venue you will be aware that events are highly resource-intensive. Thousands of meetings, conferences and events are held around the world each year, and it is the event industry’s responsibility to consider the impact of this activity on the environment; where appropriate, recognising the immense capacity it has to effect change by adopting a culture of sustainable consciousness and corporate social responsibility.

Venue ‘greening’ is fast becoming a trend worldwide. Event organisers are increasingly searching specifically for eco-friendly venues and clients are raising their expectations for a venue with good sustainable practices.

Sustainability isn’t really a ‘trend’ at all; being green is here to stay and there is no better time than now to be proactive.

ISO standards, what are they?

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards aim to give organisers, suppliers and venues a mean of delivering events more sustainably through management strategies, evaluation, reporting, communication and training.

BS 8901 standard was first introduced to the UK events industry in 2007 by the government. BS 8901 was the first of its kind; encouraging sustainable event management practice through various means. Following the widespread international interest in the British standard 8901, the ISO developed an international version alongside the London 2012 Olympics as this high prestige event provided the perfect grounds to introduce this new certification to its global audience.

ISO 20121 is a management system standard, specific to the events industry that aims to improve the sustainability of event-related activities, products and services. Venues that successfully implement this standard are awarded an internationally recognised certification.

Good sustainable practice should be embraced by venues and event managers alike. Venues with recognised green practice will encourage event organisers and suppliers to ensure that their products and services are safe, reliable and of high quality.

Going green, the benefits:

There are two major benefits of ‘pro-green’ venues: decreased cost and increased moral reputation.

It’s undeniable; recognition as a pro-green venue is indispensable to image. Venues that have taken the plunge and ‘gone green’ are favoured; waste reduction policies are valued, and venues that play by the green rules are given superiority when planning official state meetings.

Evidence suggests that government agencies are steadily improving the benefits given to environmentally conscious companies. Sustainability is admired and puts those who adopt it in a valuable position. Going ‘green’ provides venues with a competitive advantage and opens up a new market of an eco-friendly audience.

As well as boosting image and reputation, research suggests that implementing green initiatives could save British businesses £23 billion each year. Poor use of resources cost companies like yourselves money!

Around £18 billion could be saved by waste management alone!

At present, there are very few venues that are completely sustainable. Eventually, it is assumed that anyone operating in the event industry will have to be ISO 20121 certified as stakeholders including consumers, suppliers, sponsors and local authorities favour working with environmentally friendly organisations.

So why not embrace this opportunity and make your venue compliant ahead of the competition? Along the way you can reap the benefits of cost savings, increased reputation and extra clients.

Top Tips on how to become ISO 20121 certified!

  1. Identify where your event could have a negative environmental, economic and social impact and what you could do to control this.
  2. Create a plan for action – establish the initiatives you will put in place to control these negative impacts and the staff members who will be responsible for controlling these.
  3. Create a time frame and budget to complete these initiatives.
  4. Include your staff, suppliers and local community into your action plan and get their opinions and input on the plan.
  5. Produce a statement that demonstrates to the ISO that sustainability is an integral part of management your event.
  6. Monitor and evaluate the progression of the plan towards meeting the ISO 20121 certification requirements.

Now over to you!

What are your thoughts on the ISO 20121 certification?

Do you think becoming sustainable will benefit your company?

Are you worried that ignoring going ‘green’ will be detrimental to your venue?

Pro Green Venues would love to hear your views, please feel free to vote and comment below to let us know what you think!


Gillian Manning says:

This is really food for thought. It’s something I hadn’t considered doing before, but I will definitely think about it for future events.

Great! Do you think there is enough guidance for event venues ‘going green’? Sustainability is talked a lot about in today’s world – but do you think venues are likely to react?

Jack Butler says:

A relevant and timely article. I’ve written about green issues in politics both on WordPress and for the Huffington Post, so it’s interesting to see them addressed from another perspective.

Thank you Jack. Sustainability is certainly talked about a lot – but do you think people are talking about it more than they are actually doing something about it? Great to hear your opinion.

palmer says:

This was a brilliant read, such an eye opener, will definitely keep this in mine for future events

Glad you enjoyed it! Would you consider ISO20121 as being a competitive advantage? Thank you for your comment.

This is well written and well informed! It is essential that the UK events industry, worth almost £60bn last year, starts making changes to become more sustainable.

Thank you fro your comment, greatly appreciated. Do you consider being sustainable a competitive advantage?

Pukanka KZ says:

Sustainability is the future of everything. Every company that wants to be up-to-date has to think about changing to sustainable policies, the event venues as well. Plus, as it is well written in the article, it will help them save money in the long term. After all the arguments here, I don’t see a reason why they won’t be willing to go sustainable. It should be even compulsary and regulised by the government – like the cars of the future. Let’s make events of the future!

Thank you for your comment. We agree that being sustainable is the future and that also events should become more sustainable and green. Experts claim that the ISO 20121 could be a next step to making it compulsary and regulised. Thank you again for your input.

Peter G says:

Great read! I truly think that in the near future green events will be more and more relevant. Both for the companies and for the visitors.

Thank you for your comment. We agree with you and also think that green events will become more relevant. Do you think the ISO 20121 could help venues and event organisers to become more sustainable?

JodieCC says:

This is really good read!! Very interesting points have been made, however, to be honest I don’t think event venues will become more sustainable unless it becomes compulsory by law

Thank you very much Jodie for your comment. Do you think the ISO 20121 could give event venues a competitive advantage and that the government should make it compulsary?

EventP10019 says:

Good Morning,

Thank you for this article. I am in the event business for quite a while and, even though we like to talk about such topics, I have to concede that I never tried to apply any of this so far.

When do you think this will be manadatory (if it ever turns out to be mandatory by law)?

Thanks for your help and for your work.

Thank you very much for your comment and your input. Experts claim that the UK government will probably make it compulsary for all event venues in the near future but have not stated an exact date. However, after reading about the various benefits of achieving the ISO 20121, would you consider becoming accredited to gain a competitive advantage? Thank you again for your comment.

EventP10019 says:

It is really complicated to figure out tangible Ways to change the way I currently prepare events. I should definitely look into that in a more operational manner. Thank you for your input.

Thank you for your comment and we understand that adaptations can be difficult in the beginning but please feel free to contact the experienced ISO 20121 team for help with the implementation of the standard. They are a dedicated team that helps events planners and venues to become more sustainable and ISO 20121 certified. Thank you again for your comment and good luck.

Debo says:

What a great article. Although I have worked in the events industry for several years now, I have never heard about ISO 20121 before. It does sound like there are a lot of benefits and the government should defenitiely push it more so more venues know about it. Such an eye opener, thank you.

Thank you so much for your comment. We agree that the events industry and governmental bodies should definitely promote standards such as the ISO 20121 more to increase awareness. Do you think the ISO20121 could give event venues a competitive advantage?
Thank you again for your comment.

Gerald Weilbuchner says:

This is a very useful and practical guideline to become ISO-certified. Thank you for working on this very important topic for our future!

Thank you very much Gerald for your input. We are glad you liked the blog and found it useful. We agree with you that the ISO standards are definitely the way forward.

Lea A says:

It’s a very useful and interesting article about ISO. An important topic for the futur to start investing and spending time on.

Thank you very much for your comment Lea! We agree with you that sustainability is a very contemporary and important topic for the events industry. Thank you again for your input.

Caroline says:

Great read and great idea. Why not save the planet for future events!

Thank you Caroline for your comment! We totally agree with you that sustainable events and events venues are the future.

Thank you for this great article. I can only comment on the side of a hotel operator. So far I have experienced that – apart from a few multi national companies (mainly US based) – organizers mainly care about the price and immediate benefit to the event and its location and offerings, not even asking if the hotel is environmentally friendly operating. Still, I am certain that times will change and that especially sustainability will become more and more important to event organizers and companies. In this regards the event locations will need to learn how to work in a sustainable way, considering that working into this direction might also be beneficial financially. Since ISO certification processes are fairly costly and time intense, smaller hotels would never be able run through such evaluation processes. Therefore I believe that meeting planners will need to come up with minimum requirements in their RFP processes in order to prepare and increase pressure on hotels. What should not be forgotten is that the green understandings are different by country and continent. As a sample waste management might be perfectly done from the hotel side, but after all ending up on the same waste disposal site.

To conclude, ISO should streamline their requirements to make it as effective as possible in their processes, unbureaucratic and const efficient for the hotel industry to become successful.

Thank you so much for your comments Gerald. It is great to hear from hospitality professionals aswell as events. Yes, price is a fundamental issue which unfortunately often outweighs the ethical environmental practice within businesses. We hope that in the future; increased focus and demand for sustainable operations will enable organisations such as; ISO20121, to reduce prices, in turn providing cost efficient solutions to both small an large scale businesses.

Tatjana says:

Great article. Green events should definitely happen more often. Also the tips to become certified are very useful.

Thank you very much for your comment Tatjana! We agree with you that green events are the future and should happen more often. We are glad you found our tips useful and we hope that standards such as the ISO 20121 can help the events industry to become sustainable more easily. Thank you again for your input.

Mazen Sayed says:

My guess is that in near future , all companies will go sustainable whether they like it or not due government regulations. Within couple of years after proper inspection , the government will understand that going sustainable is great for the economy and they will regulate the whole system and force it. Further more , going sustainable is great for the long run ( more income) and which company does not want such thing?
Great Article !

Thank you very much for your comment Mazen. We agree with you that being green and sustainable brings a lot of benefits to the company which are highlighted by organisations such as the ISO. Moreover, the ISO has stated that standards such as the ISO 20121 will properly become compulsary by law in the next future. Do you think standards such as the ISO 20121 are the way forward to make event managers and venues recognise the importance of sustainability? Thank you again for your input.

Roberta says:

talking about green in The events Field is something really important: think is the field where there is a big difficulty in controlling wastes cause you re so under pressure to bring at the end with a great success your event that you cannot do anything to give a look. On how you re acting

Thank you very much for your comment Roberto. We agree with you that being green might be more difficult for companies operating in the events industry however, do you think that certifications such as the ISO 20121 could be a way forward to make it more accessible and viable? Thank you again for your input.

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