As well as publishing edie and a raft of environmental magazines, the website’s parent company Faversham House Group hosts a range of annual trade shows.

Among these is SustainabilityLive! The UK’s largest environmental trade show, set to return to Birmingham’s NEC later in the month.

The show has now received accreditation for the BS8901 British Standard, a ‘green’ kitemark developed specifically for the events industry.

The standard provides a framework of good practice and defines the requirements for a sustainable event management system to ensure an enduring and balanced approach to economic activity, environmental responsibility and social progress.

With ever-increasing pressure from stakeholders and authorities to address sustainability, independent certification to BS8901 will enhances the environmental credibility of any organisation involved with the events industry.

Amanda Barnes, chief executive of FHG, said: “As one of the UK’s leading publishing and exhibition organising companies, we wanted to demonstrate to our employees and customers that we have a robust management system in place.

“Sustainable event management is critical to our future business so it is imperative that our systems reflect best working practice and a commitment to sustainability.

“The BS 8901 standard provides a structured and effective framework for us to do that.

“The management system we have put in place is not just for our benefit, but has wider implications for society as a whole. BS 8901 gives us an opportunity to integrate a number of our initiatives into a formal structure allowing us to be economically viable in a truly sustainable way.”

She added that FHG’s management system framework focuses on three stages of event management; event conception and planning, execution of the event itself, and post-event activities.

Using BS 8901, the organisation has been able to establish a formalised system which encompasses all three areas of event management and is adopted for all FHG events, internal and external.

The implementation of any management system can seem somewhat daunting, both in terms of resource and time required, however FHG was able to build upon activities and processes already in place within the organisation.

“Adoption of BS 8901 was easy in some ways as we do so much of the work already,” said Ms Barnes.

“With our portfolio of environmental magazines and events, we are already aware of what we should be doing, what we could be doing better and how to achieve it.

“What we were doing less well was the record keeping and formalising of the project. We undertake a lot of the processes already but have no written documentation to support it.

“However, a sustainable event management system gives us a good basis for starting correctly from the beginning when auditing and reviewing.”

FHG has gained certification to BS8901 in just six months, but like any management system the processes are subject to regular and continual assessment.

“We believe we have been able to achieve this so quickly because the culture is imbedded in what our business does already,” said Barnes.

“The concept isn’t new for us, it is simply just a change in approach.”

There are some key commercial benefits that organisations can achieve by certification to BS 8901. Implementing BS 8901 will help organisations to:

  • Continually improve sustainable performance within available budgets
  • Reduce carbon emissions and waste, improving the resource efficiency of the entire event supply chain
  • Improve social impacts such as community involvement and fair employment
  • Secure local investment and long term viability
  • Improve communications and enhance relations with stakeholders and suppliers adding value to both parties
  • FHG is one of a number of organisations that were involved in BSI’s pilot programme for BS 8901, helping to define and improve the standard before it was launched.

    Having been through the development process, FHG had a clear understanding from the start about how seeking third party certification to BS 8901 could benefit its business.

    “After all our hard work, we needed independent assessment to prove the credibility of our achievements both internally and externally,” said Ms Barnes.

    “As a leading exhibition organiser and magazine producer we need to lead the way and not just be seen as a follower. Our professional status means that our staff, exhibitors, visitors and all of our stakeholders expect us to be at the forefront of new initiatives and government schemes, and certification by BSI to BS 8901 helps confirm this.”

    Ms Barnes offers some key pieces of advice to other organisations thinking of implementing a sustainable event management system.

    “Making sure senior management is onboard with the project from the beginning is vital. It was very important for us that our board members were engaged so that they could help to drive the project.

    “I would also recommend appointing a product champion who will oversee all aspects of the project. When we first considered certification, it felt like we had a mountain to climb, however once we had made the decision we were very surprised at how much we had already done and that it was much simpler than we thought it would be!”

    Although still very early days for FHG, now the management system is in place, the company is striving to work with staff to maintain and develop its newly defined processes.

    The organisation plans to continue working closely with suppliers to encourage them to improve their business processes and procedures so that they too become compliant with the demands of the BS 8901 standard.

    “Our climate is changing with potentially substantial implications for governments and industries,” said Andrew Morris, business development director for BSI UK.

    “The events industry is no exception. Anyone involved in organising and managing events needs to understand these trends, the implications on their businesses and then implement strategies to enable their business to respond in a more sustainable way.”

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