Convening Sustainability

Groundbreaking energy tech and sustainable practices set the stage for Convening EMEA.

Author: Curt Wagner       

Convening Leaders EMEA 21Photovoltaic Cells

The photovoltaic cells in some of the windows at the SwissTech Convention Center, home of Convening EMEA 2021, not only generate usable energy but also color the light that passes through, creating natural decor. (Photos by Mattias Nutt)

Convening EMEA, which brought attendees from 29 countries together from Oct. 17-19 in Lausanne, Switzerland, started and ended on a sustainable note. The Swiss Convention & Incentive Bureau gave participants a first-class travel pass to the event, held at SwissTech Convention Center (STCC), to encourage the use of public transport from and to the airport, as well as to all the event venues.

STCC is on the campus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and attendees were surrounded — literally — by pioneering energy technology. The west façade of the STCC is covered by photovoltaic cells, a more flexible alternative to solar panels — the first such large-scale use of the cells in the world. The desire to minimize waste prompted other measures, said Olivia Galun, senior events and community manager for PCMA EMEA, who led the planning of Convening EMEA.

Those included:

  • Eliminating paper handouts. The agenda and other information were included in an event app from Swapcard, used by 91 percent of the 283 in-person and 69digital-only participants.
  • Reusable, handmade signage was created from recycled wood.
  • Single-use plastics — including cutlery, bottles, and cups — were banned at the venue and at social events.
  • Food and centerpieces were locally sourced, and all useable leftover food was donated to area community service groups.
  • Name badges were made with recycled paper and non-toxic lamination that all can be recycled.
  • Potted trees, used throughout the venue, were replanted outdoors.
Convening Leaders EMEA 21 lounge

The VisitScotland Simply Connecting Lounge at Convening Leaders EMEA was outfitted with potted trees, outdoor furniture, and cubes illustrating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

A Breath of Fresh Air

The SwissTech Convention Center is filled with natural light, and organizers added strategically placed trees in planters, combined with an eclectic mix of furnishings, to create an open, outdoorsy feeling in the space, and to maximize choice in where and how participants gathered.

“We were very conscious that many people had not been in a face-to-face environment for nearly two years,” Jaime Bennett, PCMA’s regional director for EMEA, told Convene, “so we wanted to create a variety of areas where they could feel comfortable and inspired.”

Convening Leaders EMEA 21 Signs

Organizers used recycled wood for signs, including a signpost that showed logos of the event sponsors.

Convening Leaders EMEA 21 food

Food served at the event was locally sourced, and usable leftovers were donated.

Convening Leaders EMEA 21 lanyards

Attendees chose their lanyards based on the color that would signal their comfort level for greeting. They were asked to recycle their lanyards in provided bins at the end of the event.