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On the back of it winning the Sustainability Award at the EPAs, LS Events senior projects manager Ian Nolan provides his views on the importance of a comprehensive approach to sustainability at the event design and planning stage.

I’ve been managing events for more than 20 years, and sustainability has always been at the front of discussions, but it really feels that there’s been a shift where event planners’ actions are now keeping up with the aspirations of cleaner, greener events.

As the world increasingly grapples with the urgent need for sustainability, it’s time for the events industry to move beyond mere offsetting and embrace a fundamental shift towards better event design from the outset of the planning process. Alongside The Mayor of London’s Clean Air Strategy, the introduction of a Low Emission Zone for Non-Road Mobile Machinery has highlighted the critical role construction – and events – play in mitigating environmental impact. However, achieving sustainability in event planning requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond superficial measures.

One key aspect of improving sustainability lies in harnessing the power of data. Informed decision-making, and data-driven intelligence, can pave the way for significant reductions in environmental impact year after year. LS Events’ role in delivering the St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade for the Greater London Authority (GLA) exemplifies this approach, utilising the Trace by isla system to monitor the carbon impact of the event. Yet, amidst the plethora of systems and jargon, the challenge lies in demystifying sustainability measures and engaging stakeholders effectively.

“The challenge lies in demystifying sustainability measures and engaging stakeholders effectively.”

Intelligent planning of power requirements is a cornerstone in the design delivery of sustainable events. At our Trafalgar Square events, where the majority of power is sourced from the venue’s ‘house power’ we reap the benefits of the Mayor’s renewable energy supply, meticulous attention is paid to optimising energy usage. By analysing site design and identifying elements with the highest power demands, we can strategically position these features to minimise the need for additional generator powered energy consumption. While Stage V generators are available as a supplementary power source, we aspire to use these as a last resort, rather than the default solution. This proactive approach to power management not only reduces carbon emissions but also sets a precedent for responsible resource utilisation.

Micro insights, often overlooked, offer immense potential for reducing environmental impact even before an event commences. Simple yet impactful measures, such as switching to hotels with sustainable policies and renewable energy sources for event staff, can yield significant benefits. Similarly, the consolidation of deliveries and resources, coupled with a coordinated procurement process, not only minimises vehicle emissions but also preserves the integrity of historically significant locations like Trafalgar Square in central London when working on site.

While public transport is hailed as a sustainable alternative, its efficacy is contingent upon effective implementation. City-centre events inherently benefit from existing, robust, transport links. Rural events, too, can emulate this ambition by working with transport partners to develop the provision of Park & Ride or Rail & Ride shuttle services – striving for equal accessibility through enhanced public transport services.

The shift towards better event design is not without its challenges. It demands a departure from conventional practices towards a more holistic and conscientious approach. It requires collaboration, innovation, and a shared commitment to sustainability across the industry. By prioritising sustainability in event planning, we not only reduce environmental impact but also set a precedent for responsible stewardship in the face of global challenges.

In essence, sustainability should not be an afterthought or a checkbox on a list of event requirements. It should be woven into the fabric of event design, guiding every decision from conception to execution.