Did you know that Manchester is becoming one of the leading sustainable meeting destinations in Europe? My recent trip to Manchester was just about that and focused on sustainable event venues and city’s sustainability credentials.
Manchester Metropolitan University
The first venue to explore was Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). Academic venues are becoming more and more attractive for events and offer premium facilities for reasonable prices. If you would ask me two years ago what I think of an academic institution as an event venue I would be very sceptical but now I start changing my perceptions.
Over the past years MMU invested £350 million in its estate what increased the opportunities to attract conference and event business. In 2013 the Business School opened for external business and has already secured major international conferences such as the 8th International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations and The World Symposium on Sustainable Development. The Business School is very modern and spacious and can accommodate up to 250 delegates for dining and exhibitions and up to 60 in classrooms for workshops. There are also on-site catering facilities.
The second building I visited was the Benzie Building at Manchester School of Art. The biggest event space can accommodate up to 250 and they also have a roof terrace for up to 205 delegates. It almost felt like being in a museum. Two things particularly caught my attention. The first is the “Glockenspiel” sculpture which was designed by students and staff and measures energy consumption of the building throughout the day. The second piece was the concrete wallpaper pillars in the main event hall and the pattern on them. Isn’t it amazing?
The university has now the Silver Award for ECO campus and is working towards the Environmental Management Systems, ISO14001 for 2015.
Co-operative Group is UK’s largest mutual business and owned by nearly eight million members. It manages business in areas including food, travel, insurance etc. They are headquartered in Manchester and last year their building was declared the greenest building in the world. Though it’s not a venue I decided to have a closer look at its unique design.
The Old Trafford
Even though Manchester United is not performing well this season, they are still one of the favourite football clubs and football based tourism is one of Manchester’s main economic pillars. Unfortunately there were no matches on the day so we decided to book a tour of the legendary Old Trafford Stadium instead. The tour took us to all the main areas so I also got to see the hospitality VIP suite but unfortunately not the corporate boxes. The club is highly engaged and committed to support environmental and social issues on regional, national and international level. In 2012 they became the first football club in England to be awarded the ISO14001, The Carbon Trust Standard (for reducing carbon emissions) and the Sustainable Events Management Standards, the ISO20121.
Other sustainable venue which unfortunately I didn’t visit but also has strong sustainability credentials and regarded as one of the most sustainable venues in the UK is the Manchester Central. It offers halls and conference suites for exhibitions with possibility to accommodate up to 9,000 delegates theatre style. It has been accredited for ISO 20121 in 2013. Green initiatives for this year include undertaking free event sustainability reports for clients and launching of a new smart meeting system which will give the venue real time 24/7 information on energy consumption in the building.
How important are sustainability and sustainable venues for you?