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Sustainability Forest

Conference organisers are rightly looking to provide the ultimate conference experience with sustainability in mind, and at MEETinLEEDS we have the answers.

Sustainability

When the European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE) chose to hold its 11th International Conference at the University, MEETinLEEDS worked with the Business School, School of Earth and Environment and the School of Geography to organise the four-day event with sustainability at the heart of everything.

MEETinLEEDS’ Event Manager Anthony Lowe said: “It was a fully-managed conference which meant we took care of everything from the very beginning through to post-conference activity. Work on the conference started 18 months before and from the very beginning sustainability was our watchword. We researched how we could make it as sustainable as possible and then set about making it all happen. It’s fair to say that this approach impacted on not only the conference but in the way the whole team worked in the run-up.”

The focus for the ESEE 2015 Conference was Transformation and explored the transformation to a sustainable society through a series of spoken and poster presentations, keynote lectures from prominent scholars and lively formal and informal discussions.

Corin-and-Anthony

(L-R) Corin & Anthony

An organising committee was established which included academics from the three different University departments together with other non University Committee Members who were running the Conference, together with MEETinLEEDS . “Our role was to understand the requirements of the committee, go away and heavily research the different options, present them to the committee and then implement them,” said Anthony

The challenge for MEETinLEEDS was to accommodate 500 delegates from 34 different countries presenting 700 papers in the most sustainable way possible with a target of recycling 95% of all waste.

Technology was key. One of the first things MEETinLEEDS did was to create a bespoke Conference website so that delegates could access all the information they needed online to cut-down the need to send out too much information on paper.

Running alongside this was a specially-designed Conference app. which enabled delegates to integrate the timetable on their phones or laptops, as well as incorporate all relevant events and talks into their own calendars, eliminating the need for paper as well as linking to chats with other delegates on social media. They also used online survey and questionnaire site, Survey Monkey to ask people which lectures and events they were attending to get an idea of numbers to try and eliminate any waste from over-catering or other resources.

As part of the registration process, delegates were offered the opportunity to offset part of their travel by buying permits to help prevent pollution under the Sandbag scheme* and bike hire was also organised for delegates.

Refectory-Chefs

Simon (left) and the team of chefs

More than 300 delegates stayed on campus with most of the delegates eating on site being treated to menus of locally-sourced and regional produce, cutting down on food miles. “There were no fast fixes, no paper plates, everything was washed up and delegates were encouraged to bring their own reusable cups. The pinnacle of the Conference was a vegan buffet for 500 in the magnificent Parkinson Building lobby. It’s the first time we’d done this kind of catering on such a scale and it was a great success,” said Executive Chef Simon Wood

The menu included vegan delights such as Courgette, Garden Pea and Broad Bean Salad with Pomegranate Pearls;  Spiced Sweet Potato, Chickpea & Chilli Cakes with Homemade Ketchup and Coconut & Sticky Rice Pudding Pots with Raspberries & Lime.

There were a number of activities to add theatre to the Conference. At registration the Parkinson Building lobby was filled with the sound of birds gently chirpy as part of a specially-commissioned soundscape to help relax delegates who may have had a stressful journey. There was also an art installation featuring the word TRANSFORMATION which delegates were encouraged to decorate it throughout the Conference, as well as a conference dinner at Leeds Town Hall with a student dance band and a specially-created dance piece about sustainability.

SustainableAt the start of the conference, delegates were invited on tour of environmental projects and initiatives in the local area hosted by Leeds City Council as well as a tour of the sustainability projects at the University. And one evening there was even an informal cycle-powered film show, with three people cycling away to create enough energy to show films about sustainability while delegates drank beer and ate pizza.

“From the most ethical conference bags possible to the locally-sourced food, environmental tours and a focus on recycling and technology to prevent waste, this was a truly sustainable conference,” said MEETinLEEDS Event Assistant, Corin Nanton.

“We learnt so much and we’ll be sharing this with other organisers as part of our commitment to knowledge transfer. The more we worked on it, the more we picked up the spirit of the conference and became more and more environmentally aware as time went on and as a result we will be looking to offer sustainable packages to  what might be considered more mainstream conferences.”

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Tash Meet in Leeds

What takes 13 days, 3 exhibitions, 6 drink receptions, 4 conference dinners, 1658 delegates & a partridge in a pear tree*?

Is this the latest edition of a Tom Cruise franchise, I hear you ask…

No, this is another successful conference season facilitated by MEETinLEEDS Event Managers in collaboration with Great Food at Leeds.

EAUC-Exhibition-Centre

Aside from being about egg box creations, Bank Holidays & lots of chocolate – Easter is one of the busiest times for the University in terms of conferences and events and this year was no different. The conference team facilitated 8 conferences ranging from the well-known University’s Suppliers Easter Fair to the I-can’t-even-hope-to-understand likes of the 11th Photovoltaic Science, Application & Technology Conference.

What our team lacks in photovoltaic knowledge we make up for in the specialist knowledge of conference facilitation.

Thankfully, what our team lacks in photovoltaic knowledge we make up for in the specialist knowledge of conference facilitation. With so many events taking place over the same few days it is especially important that we ensure all visitors know exactly where they are meant to be and when, so that they have the best possible journey to their conference and welcome from the University which we call home!

Our team are dedicated to ensure that each conference has a fantastic experience on the University campus and hope that in the future if they can return to us, they do.

But don’t take my word for it, check out our twitter feed @meetinleeds.  Here are just a few comments which have been tweeted this Easter:

 

So if you have a conference or event you need help with (and Ethan Hunt isn’t available) turn Mission Impossible into MEETinLEEDS and give us a shout.

*** This blog post will self destruct in 5 seconds ***

 

*fabricated for comic purposes.

Food for life catering gold

MEETinLEEDS are delighted to have hosted the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges’ (EAUC) Annual Conference this year. From March 24th – 25th 2015, 300 delegates came together on Campus under the theme of “challenging connections” in order to learn more about the how sustainability can be considered in all connections of tertiary education.

In addition to keynote speakers, the event encompassed a series of informative workshops and exhibitions for delegates. Three venues were chosen by the organising team to cater to EAUC’s event needs: The spacious 1800sqm interlinked Exhibition Halls, the adjacent Conference Auditorium and the Roger Stevens Building. Not only are the Auditorium and Roger Stevens Building purpose built for lectures and therefore ideally equipped for talks and meetings, but all three venues are in close proximity to each other. This made movement between the exhibition and workshops easy for delegates.

PrintAnother venue delegates frequented was the University’s Refectory, where a specially tailored menu designed by our in-house chefs from Great Food at Leeds was served at the conference gala dinner. Highlighting ethically sourced and local produce, this menu reflects the University’s dedication to sustainable conferences down to the last bite and was awarded the Gold Standard Catering Mark by the Soil Association.

Jessica Martin, from the University’s Sustainability Team, was pleased to see all the work that had gone into managing the event: “As a delegate, it was great to see that sustainability had been embedded throughout the organisation of the conference; from the locally sourced and seasonal menu to the introduction of an App to discourage too many paper programmes. There were sustainable suppliers encouraging delegates to think about the credentials of their own organisations, and Leeds provided the perfect setting to critically engage with sustainability issues across the sector”.

Through carefully considering the EAUC’s needs and sharing each other’s values, the MEETinLEEDS Events Team are proud to have delivered this conference successfully.

Harriet Boatwright, MEETinLEEDS Sales & Marketing Manager, said: “It was great to be a key facilitator in the delivery of such a successful conference. It’s really important to us to deliver a great experience for both the organisers and the delegates and based on the feedback we received we seem to have ticked all the right boxes. However, conferencing for us is not two dimensional; we also learned a lot, and shared stories and experiences with both the organisers and also the exhibitors and delegates alike. We are even talking now to some of the exhibitors on how we, as a University conference service, can be more sustainable in our activities”.

 

If you would like to find out more about holding a sustainable conference at the University of Leeds please contact our team and we’ll be pleased to help.