Making London events more sustainable

Here at City Hall we are proud to be making our events more sustainable. We have been awarded the global management standard for running sustainable events, ISO 20121

This standard has been designed to help organisations make their events - and related activities, products and services - as sustainable as possible.

ISO 20121 was launched to coincide with the London 2012 Olympics and there is now a growing need for major events in London to reach this standard.

This certification is recognised internationally and will help us to attract major sporting events to London and is often part of the bid criteria for hosting these events.


Why events benefit London

Events can bring major economic and social benefits to London. They can raise the city’s profile, present a positive image to the world and bring Londoners together from different communities, creating a sense of shared interests and culture.

Most importantly, major events boost London’s economy - creating opportunities for local and regional economies and attracting new visitors and investors – as well as to Londoners. This is why it is important to us that we work to improve our events sustainability performance.

What we are doing

The ISO 20121 Standard has lead us to create our GLA Events Sustainability Policy, a new GLA Sustainability Policy and we are working towards a new GLA Responsible Procurement Policy that will be ready in 2017.

We have chosen seven key sustainability objectives for our ISO 20121 events. We are working on these objectives to ensure that our events improve their sustainability performance over the next three years.

1. Use energy efficiently and reduce carbon emissions from energy consumption
2. Reduce the amount of event waste
3. Reduce the environmental impact of transport use
4. Support and promote the GLA Food Commitment
5. Promote and encourage diversity and inclusion
6. Respect and preserve our national heritage
7. Encourage the London Living Wage

These objectives set out how the ISO 20121 certification will help us meet mayoral strategy targets across a wide range of issues affecting London and help to provide a sustainable legacy.

Disabled viewing area sign at Feast of St George on Trafalgar Square

We believe that these objectives also complement and support our duty to ensure that Trafalgar Square is preserved as a vibrant public events space for future generations.

We are responsible for managing Trafalgar Square and City Hall, where we hold some of our events for our ISO 20121 certification. City Hall has many sustainable features such as solar photovoltaic panels (solar panels) on the roof, brown water used to cool the building is then used for flushing the toilets and the building is naturally ventilated. 

You can book either of these spaces for your events see Book Trafalgar Square and
Hire City Hall.

We are working towards the ISO 20121 Standard across all of our events. In order to achieve and maintain the ISO 20121 certification a number of our events need to be audited every year.

Here are our events that are audited for 2016/17:  

More about our aims

We chose our event sustainability objectives based on what is important to us and whether we can make a difference.

Below are examples of what we have done or are doing on our objectives.

1. Use energy efficiently and reduce carbon emissions from energy consumption

  • On Trafalgar Square we are aiming to use generators that are hydrogen or hybrid power and all other generators must be compliant with Stage 3A and fitted with a particulate trap. We intend to have at least 50% alternatives to diesel power by summer 2017.
  • The Christmas Tree on Trafalgar Square now has LED lights, reducing the amount of power that it uses by 28%. This year we have also installed a timer which reduces the amount of power by a further 11%, a total saving of 39% on previous years.

2. Reduce the amount of event waste

  • The Citizenship Ceremony changed the programme size from A4 to A5.
  • The Christmas Tree lighting ceremony printed 1500 instead of 2000 programmes from the previous year.
  • Nearly all the equipment is hired or reused for the events on Trafalgar Square and only minimal waste is generated from the event production.
  • City Hall recycles 80-90% of waste and has zero waste to landfill.
  • Trafalgar Square has zero waste to landfill.

3. Reduce the environmental impact of transport use

  • We have provided more comprehensive information on our website on how to get to our events, encouraging the use of walking, cycling and public transport.
  • Africa on the Square had 86% of visitors travel to the event by public transport and only 3% travel by car.
  • Africa and Diwali events were held on the same weekend and shared the same stage which reduced the amount of production vehicles by almost 50%.

4. Support and promote the GLA Food Commitment

  • Free drinking water is available at all of our events.
  • Catering stalls for events on Trafalgar Square must now meet a minimum requirement for sustainability in order to trade on the square.

5. Promote and encourage diversity and inclusion

  • The GLA Events for London team are working towards the Charter of Best Practice for Access Bronze Award.
  • Feast of St George, Diwali and Africa on the square all had hearing loops, British Sign Language and disabled viewing areas. Access information was provided on their event listing on the website.

6. Respect and preserve our national heritage

  • All event management plans for Trafalgar Square now include a plan to protect the square from damage.

7. Encourage the London Living Wage

  • All our direct contractors are now paying the London Living Wage to their staff when working on our events and other GLA activities.

2015/16 Events for ISO 20121

Here are our events that were audited for 2015/16:  

  • 7 Sept 2015: Citizenship Ceremony - City Hall
  • 10 Oct 2015: Africa on the Square - Trafalgar Square
  • 11 Oct 2015: Diwali - Trafalgar Square
  • 16 Oct 2015: Business Energy Challenge _ City Hall
  • 26 Nov 2015: PQT – Hayes Theatre, Hillingdon
  • 3 Dec 2015: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony - Trafalgar Square
  • 10 Mar 2016: PQT - Fairfield Halls, Croydon
  • 23 Apr 2016: Feast of St George – Trafalgar Square

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