Keeping ahead of the sustainability curve

Piers Kelly
Operations Director, Reed Exhibitions UK

Reed Exhibitions UK represents 10 per cent of Reed Exhibitions’ business, with exhibitions in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Asia and North America.

As the Operations Director, I deal with contractors, venues and everything involved in getting exhibitions built. Health and safety is one critical component of my role, ensuring that we are complying with the relevant standards and keeping our events safe for exhibitors and visitors.

I first became interested in sustainability issues a few years ago. There was a drive within the events industry to improve sustainability, which came about as part of winning the 2012 London Olympics.

I wanted us to be ahead of the curve when it came to sustainability, which is why I became involved in the development of BS 8901 – a standard for the events industry to which we are independently assured. Reed Exhibitions UK was one of the first companies to adopt this standard. In July 2012 it became an internationally recognised ISO 20121 and we are working towards re-certification to this new standard.

The challenge in this sector is in working with venues for short periods of time. It can be difficult to measure an event’s impact when reliant on a third party’s infrastructure. Their energy consumption, waste management and health and safety policies are taken into account when considering a venue. It is sometimes possible to apply pressure for improvements, but change in this area will happen slowly.

We can, and do, encourage best practice through our events. The exhibitions offer our customers the opportunity to share what they are doing in sustainability and learn from others through our educational programmes.

Exhibitions are a very efficient way to do business. They offer our customers cost savings in terms of bringing people together in one place and reducing the overall need for business travel. I am proud to see that our exhibitions connect people in efficient ways and I continue to drive the sustainability agenda within our sector.

Piers Kelly

Piers Kelly