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Discovering event sustainability in Brussels

“Our biggest challenge in this new century is to take an idea that seems abstract – sustainable development – and turn it into a reality ”

Kofi Annan

To try and turn an idea that seems abstract Global Engage has joined ISLA. This is a body that is working with the events industry to accelerate its transition to a sustainable future.

At Global Engage to start the journey toward sustainability, we have set an initial set of goals that, begin with measuring the CO2e cost of our meetings and, for example, requiring all host venues to have a sustainability policy which should include a commitment to achieving Net-Zero by the end of the decade.

With last Friday marking international Earth Day, I was delighted to be part of a visit to Brussels to discover some fascinating efforts being made in that city to deliver on the sustainability agenda.

The trip was organised with the support of Hotel Republic, Eurostar, The Hotel Brussels and Visit Brussels.

Train vs Plane

We all know the train produces less CO2e than a plane, but the difference between the two is startling. Average Eurostar CO2e emissions per passenger are around 5.8 kg. This compares to 59.7 kg for the equivalent flight. A staggering 90% reduction! With a travel time of around two hours, the decision to go by train seems obvious, especially when the station is so close to your hotel.

The Hotel Brussels has taken strenuous steps to reduce energy consumption and to produce a portion of its own energy through co-generation. It is certified by Green Key and BREEAM and says that it has attained the highest level of certification. As well as being green, the hotel is centrally located and extremely comfortable with great exhibition and meeting spaces, not to mention some great views. In addition, strenuous efforts are being made to cut food miles at the hotel.

“our aims are ambitious: along with a goal to cut water use by 20% by 2023, we also intend to reduce gas use by 25%, electricity consumption by 35% and oue overall CO2 footprint by 20% … we sre already 85% of the way to achieving these goals”

The Hotel Brussels

As a step towards reducing food miles, the hotel has partnered with Europe’s largest aquaponic urban farm. This startup,  combining fish and hydroponic farming for greater efficiencies is barely a kilometre from the hotel. BIGH integrates its farms with existing buildings to benefit from waste energy and reduce their environmental impact. It is designed with the circular economy in mind, and water and energy efficiency.

Not every meeting includes time to go sightseeing, but if you want to go exploring, jumping on a bike is a great way to discover the City you are in. Thanks to Provelo I was able to do just that. Finally, a great restaurant such VerTige specialising in a plant-based menu with an emphasis on sustainability and nature is always to be welcomed.

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