Opened less than a year ago, Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre is taking serious steps towards its environmental obligations, with an agreement with Toitū Envirocare to acquire certification as a net carbon zero organisation.
For now, the venue is working to establish “an accurate benchmark of operations to not just know where we are at, but where we need to head in the future”, said general manager Ross Steele.
Attention will turn to net carbon zero operations by the end of the next financial year.
Steele said Toitū Envirocare is a favoured partner as its programmes are the only ones in New Zealand to be certified under the ISO 14064 standard (organisation) and ISO 14067 standard (product) by the JAS-ANZ (Joint Accreditation System for Australia and New Zealand). Furthermore, the organization takes a science-based approach to its programmes.
Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre’s ultimate goal is to “bring clients and suppliers along on the journey and look at ways to work with them to minimise the impact of the events we host – something we are well supported in with Ōtautahi Christchurch’s own commitment to reaching net zero emissions,” Steele added.
He said: “For us, sustainability and sustainable operations go beyond just measuring waste and offsetting carbon emissions. It’s about legacy – what we leave behind for future generations, and how we instil values that will ensure we are not only environmentally sensitive but leading the way in this area for years to come.”
Emphasising the destination’s own sustainable tourism commitment, ChristchurchNZ head of business events, Megan Crum, said Christchurch’s guiding principle is Small Footprint – Big Impression.
It is a walkable city with other environmentally-friendly transport modes, such as e-bikes and scooters. Electric public transport options will also bring travellers from the airport into the city, in just 15 minutes, shared Crum.
“The walkability also has a significant financial impact on event planners. There are no expensive coaches needed when they call for a conference in Christchurch. The conference centre is just a five-minute walk from 2,500 hotel beds and social venues. For the delegates, this is a place to breathe; they are not bound to a very strict transport schedule,” she said.
This year, Crum shared that ChristchurchNZ will deliver a comprehensive Business Events Sustainability Framework that will enable the destination to halve its emissions by 2030 and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045.
Christchurch’s business events community are aligned on this sustainability movement, noted Crum, who said companies are committed to local procurement and sustainability design, and they incorporate CSR into event design.
Citing a shining example, Crum pointed to Christchurch Airport, which is the first facility of its kind to be awarded Level 4 Transformation of the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme. It decreased its carbon emissions by 90 per cent in 2015, and is now building a 400-hectare solar energy farm on its premises that will bring it closer to its climate-positive goal in a decade. It is also working with a consortium to enable zero-emissions aviation to take off in New Zealand, with a pilot programme to deploy the first green hydrogen-powered commercial passenger aircraft by 2035.