Barbican: a showcase in venue sustainability

The Barbican, one of the world’s leading arts centres, offers a range of versatile meeting spaces, bringing a unique touch to any event. It can host both intimate gatherings and larger events, for groups of between 10 and 2,000, across its concert hall, theatres, conference suites and boardrooms.

The venue is also cementing its reputation as a sustainable space for business events, working proactively to reduce resources, waste and associated carbon emissions. This year, the Barbican announced that all electricity now consumed within the Centre is 100% renewable.

Eco-friendly approach

Sustainability initiatives are being carried out across the event supply chain. Together with its catering partners, the Barbican has removed plastic straws across its bars, cafes and restaurants and also replaced plastic disposable cutlery with biodegradable wooden alternatives. Single use plastic cups have also been removed in favour of paper cones. Furthermore, conference consumables are recycled or made from recycled material.

The venue has also implemented a zero to landfill policy, where all its waste is reused, recycled or composted where possible, with everything else going to energy recovery.

A staff sustainability steering group has also been set up, to ensure that employees are as involved in sustainability issues as much as possible, helping the venue to increase levels of engagement and maximise environmentally-friendly opportunities.

Biodiversity in action

The Conservatory, which caters for 100 delegates for a standing buffet or 150 for a drinks reception, is a prime example of the Barbican’s approach to biodiversity. The venue houses exotic fish, terrapins and more than 2,000 species of sub-tropical plants and trees, providing a lush, green oasis in the heart of London. Coloured LED lighting has also been incorporated into the planting, creating a stunning background for celebratory events.

The Barbican also opens out onto a lakeside area that provides a habitat for a variety of flora and fauna; this space has been enhanced with reed beds and planters, with much of the work done as part of wider community engagement activity. The venue has also introduced a bee colony and recently installed two bug hotels to encourage pollinating insects.

As a leading arts and conference venue, the Barbican works closely with the local community, providing a major facility where people can gather and share ideas.

Looking to the future

The Barbican is committed to furthering its sustainability initiatives. Future developments include the provision of water fountains in public locations across the venue, enabling delegates to fill up their own water containers, thus reducing the use of and dependence on bottled water.

A planned switch to reusable polycarbonate glassware will enable the Barbican to reduce the number of single use plastics across its bars, while it is also looking to reduce and eventually remove single-use plastic bottled drinks in its bars and cafés.

For more info please contact: Jenny.Waller@barbican.org.uk

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