The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre (SECC) is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Sustainability has become an important concern – in many ways.

”Even a hundred-year-old can understand the importance of sustainable development. The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers are involved in sustainability work on many levels, and we see a growing commitment from colleagues, participants in exhibitions and guests. Many want to contribute to a better world”, says Carin Kindbom, President and CEO of the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, which includes Gothia Towers.

”The Swedish Exhibition Centre was inaugurated in 1918. The original business model, to arrange trade fairs, has expanded to include hotels, restaurants, spa facilities and events. We will celebrate our centenary during 2018, and one important part of the group’s strategy is to promote sustainable development”.

People and environment

The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre (SECC) is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2018. Sustainability has become a central component of the group’s long-term strategy. Photo: Creative Commons.

”We endeavour to create a safe and healthy working environment together with our employees. Our efforts cover everything from the tools we use, air, sound and light to minimising stress and optimising the organisation for employee well-being. We strive to prevent ill health and accidents at work and continuously monitor our employees’ work situations”.

”Waste is another important focus area. We minimise waste, also making it easier for our guests, visitors and exhibitors to recycle or manage their own. We provide sorting containers in many areas and more than 85 per cent of our waste is recycled. Some of it is composted and converted to biogas, which is used to fuel our ovens in the restaurant kitchen. We donate broken and worn IT equipment to the IT4Kids foundation, which sells parts that still have value. IT4Kids uses the money for purposes in line with its goal of improving the lives of disadvantaged children”, Carin Kindbom says.

”Transports are an important environmental issue and we aim to reduce CO2 emissions and traffic congestion in central Gothenburg. For example, by optimising our logistics through the consolidation and compaction of goods to and from our facility. This eliminates a third of delivery shipments. We also offer climate-compensated transport options to customers who wish to minimise their carbon footprint. And all of our own shipments are climate-compensated”.

”We serve 1.8 million visitors every year, and the five restaurants and bars make sure that good food is readily available – from fine dining to sandwiches to go. The Gothia Towers schrimp sandwiches, made with locally produced bread, salad and schrimps, are famous far outside Gothenburg borders. We endeavour to supply our restaurants with organic, locally produced ingredients on fair terms. Nowadays our wine list also includes many organic options”, Carin says.

Bees contribute to biodiversity

”We have approximately 1.8 million visitors every year, byt on the Gothia Towers roof, about 60 000 bees have settled permanently. They live well on the roof, with the Liseberg flowers within convenient flying distance, and dedicated beekeepers that take care of the hives. The bees produce about 40 kg of honey for the restaurants and bars every year, and contribute to central Gothenburg’s biological diversity”, Carina Kindbom says.

Environmentally certified events

The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers are the first large Scandinavian venue with congress, hotel and meeting facilities to be certified to ISO 20121:2012, Event Sustainability Management Systems. ISO 20121 was first used at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It is an internationally highly regarded standard for ensuring a consistently high level of event sustainability management and includes environmental, social and economic aspects. In practice, this may for example concern minimising waste, increasing accessibility, and reducing impact in the long term by safeguarding resources.

“The certification shows that we make high demands on our sustainability work and that we have adopted systems that comply with requirement levels recognised as industry practice worldwide. Certification is part of strengthening our global positioning and our ambition of attracting even more international customers to hold their conference here in Gothenburg. Our vision is to be Europe’s most attractive venue by offering the best overall experience and that includes sustainability. Taking an active stance in sustainable development now is likely necessary to be able to celebrate our next 100-year anniversary”, Carina Kindbom says.

Besides ISO 20121, Gothia Towers is a BREEAM-certified venue. BREEAM is the world’s most widely applied environmental classification system for buildings. Gothia Towers is up to this time Europe’s largest hotel certified to BREEAM environmental standards.

The article was published in February 2018.