In this session, we asked: what can venues do in order to run more sustainable practice? What is involved when becoming "Green Mark" accredited? And what is the experience like from a venue who's already passed this accreditation?
Discussing this was Hire Space's Co-Founder Edward Poland, Serene Morden McDade, Director of Operations at Tobacco Dock, Alex Martindale, Director at Tobacco Dock Food, and Toby Merridan, Head of Business Development at Carbon Architecture, the company behind the Green Mark Accreditation.
You can watch the video below, or read on for our key takeaways of the session.
Table of Contents
What is Green Mark?
Together with the European Social Fund, Carbon Architecture developed the Green Mark accreditation to enable companies to become sustainability-accredited without the big overhead of some of the larger accreditations, such as ISO. The accreditation is recognised across many industries, and is suitable for businesses both big and small.
How does Green Mark work?
Firstly, venues can visit the Green Mark section of the Hire Space website to get more information. Then, venues can sign up and pay the small fee, which is calculated based on the size of the business.
The venue will then gain acknowledgement from a dedicated Carbon Architecture Sustainability Engineer, who will liaise with the venue and provide questionnaires to gauge the current level the venue is at in their 'sustainable journey'. Following this, the Green Mark team will lay out a roadmap for the business to follow to become accredited. Throughout the duration of 1 year, the roadmap and venue progress is monitored and reviewed, and your engineer remains at your disposal for any support required.
The venue perspective
Tobacco Dock went about researching the various accreditations available and found that the big ISO accreditations were simply not feasible, so Green Mark was a fantastic option. She adds that the questionnaire process is super simple and easy to complete, and that the Carbon Architecture team were constantly supporting them every step of the way.
She notes that she found a lot of the procedures and measures laid out by Green Mark were actually already in place at Tobacco Dock, they just hadn't been assigned to their Sustainability Policy. Green Mark helped the venue put some goals and objectives in place, including recording the correct data to be able to track progress on actions made.
Alex notes that from the catering side, Green Mark has helped to fine tune the process of reducing waste, and created more awareness of processes already in place and how these can be tweaked and improved. For example, they have removed single-use plastics such as water bottles and straws, and replaced them with more eco-friendly alternatives.
Commitment is key
Serene informs us that naturally, the accreditation takes time and commitment, and team communication is crucial for ensuring consistency, cohesiveness and making sure the supply chain is connected. Internal and external training is also crucial - educating the team is an ongoing process and is essential for moving forward after the accreditation too.
Alex adds that on an individual level, most people are starting to make changes in their homes, which translates to an interest in making the workplace more sustainable too. When it comes to sustainability in catering, it is key to be constantly question how food is being prepared and served and review the suppliers and materials you're using.
Toby adds that this is a social accreditation. It's designed to be visible, in this case in a venue, so marketing materials are provided and so when delegates enter the venue they'll see a Green Mark sticker there. They may not know what it is, but they can look it up and discover that this venue is doing their best to be sustainable and are proud to show it off.
Is Green Mark the only Accreditation that I should look for, or are there others?
Serene informs us budget was a big factor in the decision-making process. For a venue, it's important to find an accreditation that is affordable and sustainable as a company. She adds that resources within their team also played a part in the process, and that once they had formed a 'Green Team' they were the ones who were speaking with Green Mark and finding that this accreditation was suitable for their company. Green Tourism was also considered, however they are very focused on hospitality and hotels as opposed to venues, so Tobacco Dock felt Green Mark was more tailored to them as a venue.
Serene adds another big draw for the Green Mark is that they are really supportive with supply chain management and education of your suppliers.
How do we speak to those who still don't think sustainability is that important?
It is important for the venues to lead here, to present the options the venue has and share best-practice to educate people. Serene and Alex have found that stats also help to raise awareness and educate those who may not be as interested in making their event sustainable.
Is there a list of Green Mark Accredited Venues?
You will soon be able to find a list of accredited venues on Hire Space as well as being able to add search filters when using the platform to find your venue.
Edward Poland, Co-Founder, Hire Space
Edward Poland is co-founder of hirespace.com, and responsible for brand, marketing and communications. In six years Hire Space has been used over 5 million times by customers, nominated as “Market Disruptor of the Year” by Marketing Week and as ‘SME of the Year’ by the Evening Standard, and featured in The Times, Mashable, Telegraph, Guardian and BBC. Hire Space features 4000+ venues and is the go-to venue resource for the events industry, with a brand reach of over a million people a month. Previously, Ed worked as a speechwriter for UNESCO and a campaign manager for the Labour Party.
Serene Morden McDade, Director of Operations, Tobacco Dock
Serene has been an integral cog in the Tobacco Dock machine since its launch in 2012 and has helped grow the business from a single event to an annual calendar of more than 250 (when Coronavirus isn’t spoiling everyone’s plans!). She has many plates spinning as she oversees both the Venue and Facilities Operations teams as well as Guest Services. Her passion is building the perfect team and she draws upon her rich experience in the events industry to support her teams and to ensure everyone is surpassing their targets.
Alex Martindale, Director, Tobacco Dock Food
Toby Merridan, Head of Business Development, Carbon Architecture
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