Tonight’s Thrive session, ‘Carbon Responsibility in the office-based sector’, will help business people focus on what can be achieved with the right strategy.

Guest speaker at the forum being held at the ICC will be Dr Catarina Cardoso from the Carbon Trust who will briefly cover the current regulatory framework in the UK and outline how the trust is helping business to reduce carbon emissions. The focus will then be on the office-based sector and what can be done to reduce carbon footprint and help accelerate the move to a low-carbon economy.

The session will also include a presentation from Martin Dyer, NEC Group site development manager, who will be outlining the NEC Group’s response to these challenges and how carbon considerations have influenced design, construction and operations of their facilities.

Thrive outlines here how the NEC Group’s work is making a difference.

Operating four world-class Birmingham venues, The NEC, LG Arena, The NIA and The ICC, The NEC Group has a responsibility to the region and the millions of visitors it welcomes to its venues every year,

In April 2008, The NEC Group launched its corporate responsibility programme, the Butterfly Effect, with the objectives of being an employer of choice, a sustainable business, engaging with its communities and being open and accountable.

For the past ten years, The NEC Group has held the Carbon Trust award for achievements in energy efficiency. Presented following a detailed biannual audit by the trust, the award is decided through criteria including the commitment of senior management, involvement of staff, technical innovation and management of energy (water/gas/electricity).

A key innovation on The NEC site is the replacement of heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) plants throughout the exhibition halls with units that are three per cent more efficient. To date, conversion of the units in Halls 3, 3a, 4 and 5 have been completed.

The NEC Board approved an Energy (Carbon CO2) Management Policy in 2008, meaning that it will continue to invest in energy-efficient schemes over the next 40 years.

A biomass scheme for The NEC site is being developed under a formal OJEC (Official Journal of the European Community) process. If the project is deemed to be feasible, the biomass generator is likely to supersede an earlier proposal for the installation of wind turbine generators.

Further projects under way include Smart Metering and Hall Lighting for both The NEC and LG Arena for lower emission units.

A strong recycling message has also been rolled out across the whole NEC site. In the main offices all the individual waste paper bins under employees’ desks have been removed (and recycled) and the two floors of the main venue offices were kitted out with banks of recycling bins, enabling waste to be segregated at source.

Most significantly, a set of redundant kitchens was converted into a 17,000m² waste pre-treatment centre in March, which enables waste to be segregated, processed and sent from site to be recycled, diverting materials that could be re-used away from the local landfill site.

Following an investment of £330,000, the latest weighing technology and compacting equipment in the centre enables the waste to be processed so that the maximum amount can be sent from site in one load.

Cardboard, plastic, metal, wood, paper, plastic bottles and cans, and pallets are now all diverted away from the hole in the ground and collected by local suppliers to the recycling industry. In fact, no one material travels more than 30 miles from The NEC, putting the venue at the forefront of sustainability within the exhibition industry.

The target is to recycle 50 per cent of waste generated on site, amounting to 2,800 tonnes, within four years of operation.

The first five weeks of operation within the waste pre-treatment centre saw 24 tonnes of cardboard leave the site on two vehicles, reducing the number of vehicles on the road by 90 per cent, which equates to 18 vehicles on the road which otherwise would emit carbon emissions.

A total of 112 tonnes of waste was pre-treated, of which 69 tonnes was diverted away from landfill and sent for recycling, achieving a successful recycling rate of 66 per cent .

Unused paint from the site was collected and a local community group in South Birmingham was contacted. Nearly 200 tins of paint were delivered to Community Repaint where it will be distributed to hostels, charities and schools to be used in their projects.

Recycling stations were installed in public circulation areas where paper, cardboard, cans and plastic bottles can be placed by visitors, passing on a strong message of The NEC being a sustainable venue.