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Dublin’s meeting industry suppliers display their CSR credentials

Dublin was recently awarded the title Fairtrade capital city following a two year campaign to attain the coveted status. Council staff, retailers, schools and universities joined the city’s campaign and around 120 shops and 60 catering outlets across the capital have signed up to sell Fairtrade products. Fairtrade is a growing worldwide movement that promotes the payment of a fair price for products from developing countries in a bid to fight poverty and inequality.

Some of Dublin’s best known conference and banqueting venues such as Trinity College Dublin, the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) and the Guinness Storehouse are leading the way in terms of CSR approaches. Not only was Trinity awarded with a Certificate of Fairtrade College Status in late 2006, it is also one of four Dublin based universities which has been working with the e3 Bureau since 2005 to reduce energy consumption resulting in total savings from energy management activities over three years exceeding €1million and 6,200 tonnes of greenhouse gas.
Dublin’s oldest university also runs an annual Green Week celebrating nature and providing a forum for staff and students to share ideas on how to protect the environment within and outside college. One of the innovative measures introduced by the RDS is the installation of a woodchip burner to heat part of the building with leading wood energy technology, helping Dublin’s largest conference venue reduce its carbon footprint and minimize energy costs.

The Guinness Storehouse Greening Project involves assessing each department on the three key areas of energy consumption, waste management and recycling practices with a view to reducing waste outputs by 16%, increasing levels of recycling by a further 13% and reducing energy consumption by 10.5% in 2008. The venue’s environmental team has already successfully raised €1500 for the development of a new roof garden at the Robert Emmet Community Project which provides educational, sports and support groups for all members of the local community and volunteers from the Guinness Storehouse will commence work on the roof garden in March 2008.

Hotels were among the first suppliers in the meetings sector to develop comprehensive environmental policies. Dublin hotels across all classifications such as the 5 star Four Seasons Hotel, the Westin and the K Club properties, the 4 star Gresham Hotel and the 3 star Jurys Inn Christchurch implement extensive recycling, energy saving and purchasing measures which benefit their clients, the hotels themselves and the environment as a whole. O’Callaghan Hotels who operate three 4 star and one 3 star property in the Irish capital entered into partnership with Dalkia Energy Management Services in 2004 which has resulted in the reduction of electricity import by 15%, gas import by over 36% and heat demand by over 36%. O’Callaghans are currently introducing a more in-depth recycling programme in order to reduce domestic waste by up to 50%. Castleknock Hotel & Country Club is going one step further and has embarked on a programme to become Ireland’s first carbon neutral hotel by the end of 2008. The hotel has partnered with carbon and energy consultants, Step Green who carried out a comprehensive audit of the hotel’s greenhouse emissions.  The credits used by Castleknock Hotel & Country Club to offset its non reducible emissions will originate from the implementation of an energy efficiency programme in a local school.  This project will be in conjunction with the creation of carbon storage through planting of forests compliant with the Kyoto Agreement.

In the intensely competitive PCO and DMC sector, companies are also realising the potential competitive advantage that lies with being a forerunner in the area of CSR development. MCI Dublin have implemented environmental measures internally in the areas of recycling, purchasing, energy saving and the introduction of natural greenery into the office. They have also established a Green Team with a representative from each department giving their input into how to introduce CSR measures into forthcoming meetings and activities enabling them to provide comprehensive sustainability consulting and green event management to their clients. Conference Partners are managing the 25th International PLEA Conference which will take place at University College Dublin from 22-24th October 2008. Passive and Low Energy Architecture (PLEA) is a global community engaged in a continuing discourse on sustainable architecture and urban design and represents the longest running such forum addressing passive and low energy building design and realisation. This is the first conference of its kind to come to Ireland, the theme for 2008 being ‘Towards Zero Energy Building’ with topics such as Low Energy Communities and Neighbourhoods. Sustainable Urban Design, the Occupant and Climate-Sensitive Architecture, Innovative Materials, Components and Systems, Indoor Environmental Quality, Construction and the Environment, Environmental Theory and Architecture and Zero Energy Building Regulation and Policy up for discussion.

And finally the transport sector, long the problem child for the environmental movement, is taking steps to improve its emissions and offer ‘green’ alternatives to its customers. Award winning sightseeing and coaching company The Dualway Group has added two Euro 4 compliant green buses to their fleet. The vehicles produce zero emissions and are part of the company’s commitment to continue reducing their carbon footprint. The company has also added to their ‘green tourism’ product by offering two new walking tours, the Cobblestone and Crypt Tour and the Water & Whiskey Tour, which will allow visitors to explore Dublin ‘off the beaten track’. Railtours Ireland offers visitors the chance to spend from a half day to 6 days exploring more of Ireland in an eco friendly way. Customers can sit back and relax in specially reserved carriages on scheduled train services with the added benefit of a Railtours Ireland Host who will ensure the touring experience is a positive and memorable one. The company carried some 25,000 overseas visitors in 2007, eliminating thousands of car journeys and contributing to the reduction of congestion and pollution in Ireland’s towns and villages, thus helping to preserve our reputation as a beautiful, relaxed and unspoilt destination.

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