25 February 2009
One Wimpole Street is Number One for Sustainability
One Wimpole Street, the events and conferencing arm of the Royal Society of Medicine, is the first venue in the country to be issued with a certificate for BS 8901– the British Standard for a sustainable event management system. The venue was awarded the certification on the 20 February 2009 by third party certifiers, Sustainable Event Certification (SEC).
The BS 8901 standard is aimed at encouraging organisations in the events industry to improve the sustainability of their event related activities. The standard can be applied to the management system for the running of any venue or event – from a scouts’ jumble sale to the 2012 Olympics.
Over the past year, the Events Team at One Wimpole Street has been working to implement the requirements of the standard. This has involved an in-depth review of the sustainability issues relevant to the venue and extensive stakeholder engagement with key clients, suppliers and other partners. From this, a clear set of priorities and targets have been established to help One Wimpole Street gradually improve the sustainability of its operations. The process not only addressed environmental issues such as waste and energy reduction but also important financial issues such as improving the management of last minute cancellations and also developing the skills and competencies of employees.
One Wimpole Street hosts over 400 meetings for the Royal Society of Medicine every year, mostly as part of the Society’s role of providing continuing education to the medical profession. But it also organises conferences and events for a wide range of external clients looking for a high-quality meeting venue in a prime central London location.
Craig Wallace, Conference and Events Manager for the RSM, has been responsible for steering One Wimpole Street toward certification. Since joining the Society in March 2007 he has been keen to make sure that the events side of the organisation was as sustainable as possible and applied to work towards certification as soon as the scheme was announced in November 2007.
"The BS 8901 standard has opened our eyes in a lot of ways. It forced us to take a hard look at our business and processes. The stakeholder engagement exercise, although challenging, has proven beneficial in opening up new lines of communication with our clients and suppliers. We know we still have more to do but we are over the moon to have got this far."
Among other sustainable initiatives, One Wimpole Street has an on-site water purification system and operates its own emission free electric vehicle to transport materials around the Royal Society of Medicine estate in W1. The events team encourages video-conferencing of meetings to enable potential overseas attendees to reduce their carbon footprint by accessing the event remotely.
"I would encourage any event supplier to consider implementing the BS 8901 standard," says Wallace. "Not only does it highlight environmental issues that many organisations are currently addressing, but it also encompasses key financial and social elements which are often overlooked. Cost often figures high in decisions not to pursue sustainability but we found many of our initiatives were cost neutral."
Tim Sunderland, from Sustainable Events Certification, said "The Events Team has worked hard on building its management systems to meet the requirements of BS 8901. It has been hard going but throughout the process the team has had the full support of their senior management which is absolutely essential. However, the work doesn’t stop here. The team has to continue to ensure that the system beds in and that they continually improve both the effectiveness of their systems and their sustainability performance. The certification process identified a number of opportunities for improvement and I am confident that the team will take these up as they move forward."
For further information please contact:
Carmel Turner, Royal Society of Medicine
Tel: 0207 290 2904