Light sensors, individually controlled fan units, waterless urinals and office wastepaper baskets being replaced by recycling bins are just some initiatives that have helped the NEC Group reduce its carbon footprint.

Martin Dyer, venues development manager, believed businesses should recognise that each small step would make a difference.

Talks are still going on to set up a biomass plant at the NEC site, a power station that will use waste from across the exhibition centres to generate electricity, but in the meantime a wide range of initiatives are producing results.

Martin told the Thrive forum that NEC Group’s utility bills for gas, water and electricity were about £4?million per annum – which equates to £1 for each visitor to the exhibition halls.

“This is a great incentive to take action and there is a real commitment to bring down carbon emissions,” said Martin, who admitted that it can be a challenge because the more successful an event proves to be, the higher the carbon emissions.

A decision was taken to target specific parts of the business, with catering given priority. The 26 on-site restaurants and eating places notch up 22 per cent of the total energy bill. Training programmes to ensure equipment was being used efficiently and simple decisions for drink vending machines to operate only when required and empty fridges being switched off have all made a difference.