Company: The Carbon Free Group
Group size: 70
Date: 8 April 2009
Venue: Pines Calyx Conference Centre
The Brief: Eco-minded consultancy the Carbon Free Group needed a suitable venue in which to introduce and debate different sustainable community practices.
The Pines Calyx Conference Centre, which has won recognition for its green approach since opening in 2006, was an option that met the event's criteria. "Pines Calyx has taken environmental issues totally on board," says Carbon Free Group director Jae Mather. "Even the water is heated by solar power."
Delegates were drawn from local and national business leaders with an interest in sustainability.
Challenges: With the venue located in east Kent, the prime obstacle lay in convincing delegates that access would be easy, particularly as many were travelling from relatively distant parts of the UK. Rail access from the capital is around two hours.
Solution: Organisers were able to persuade the 70 delegates that the day-long event would be simple to reach, and that the benefits of the location would outweigh longer travel times. The conference centre was able to offer partnerships with local hotels and B&Bs for those attendees who needed to stay overnight.
Execution: The day itself was split into several sessions and focused on examples of successful community development. A further benefit of the venue was that the adjacent village of St Margaret's-at-Cliffe was able to be used as a real-life case study of somewhere that had benefited from sustainable policies.
Conference sessions took place from 10am in the venue's Lower Roundel space, while the similarly sized Upper Roundel - which opens on to a terrace overlooking the grounds - was used to serve teas and organic biscuits, as well as for the locally sourced buffet lunch.
The afternoon session began at 2pm and ran until 4.30pm. Continuing the community-focused theme of the day, many delegates stayed at the nearby White Cliffs Hotel, an upmarket property which bills itself as "an antidote to faceless global brands".
Verdict: "Pines Calyx was the perfect venue for an event like this," says delegate John Orchard, director of Darlington-based property developers Marchday Group. "As an exemplary low-energy building it's hard to imagine a more appropriate space."