Training venues: How green is my venue

Organisations are increasingly being encouraged to measure the environmental impact of their activities, and organisers of training events will be more than aware of this trend.

Of course, not travelling off-site would be the greenest option, but if you are looking for a green venue there are a growing number of places that are promoting their eco-friendly credentials. In fact, says Peter Bayliss at Cwmbiga Farm in mid-Wales, many venues have jumped on to this bandwagon.

He said: “I’ve seen venues advertise themselves as green simply because they use long-life light bulbs. There’s a lot more to being environmentally friendly than that.”

A great many of these venues also tend to be located in the countryside which, according to Mick Hickey, the owner of the Hyagerbill Centre – a green training venue in Cumbria, can be an attraction in itself. “There is a growing demand for a space where people can get away from things, concentrate in the issue in hand and also enjoy the setting,” he says.

But town or country, Training and Coaching has scoured the UK to find some of the greenest training venues in the land.

Scotland

Rufflets Country House Hotel, St Andrews, Fife

Capacity: Up to 200 delegates

Training facilities: Flexible meeting room space with standard AV equipment

Parking: 120 spaces

Accommodation: 24 four-star rooms

Rate: Day rate is from £45.00 /24 hour rate from £175.00

Dinner menu: Three courses including Aberdeen Angus beef and trout

Green credentials: Rufflets invests in three projects to offset its carbon footprint including the reforestation of the Carrifran Valley on the Scottish Borders. The hotel, which encourages guests to take showers instead of baths, has achieved the gold award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme. Rainwater is harvested for use in all the WCs, as well as supplying the existing on-site laundry.

West Country

Green and Away, Malvern

Capacity: Up to140 delegates

Training facilities: Aimed at team-building /development course. Green and Away offers the great outdoors and a white board with pens

Parking: 120 spaces

Accommodation: A range of tents from luxury yurts to basic tented accommodation

Rate: A combined fee of £1,050 per day plus up to £35 per person per day for a minimum of 50 people

Dinner menu: Includes locally-sourced Thai red cabbage cottage pie with carrots followed by apple sponge pudding and custard

Green credentials: For the outdoor type, all equipment and structures on or at Green and Away are recycled, secondhand or sustainable where possible. The power is produced on site from sustainable sources, such as solar and wind and the toilets use compost rather than mains sewers. The owners insist on the use of biodegradable toiletries and cleaning products and as much rubbish as possible is recycled.

The South-east

Pines Calyx Conference & Training Centre Dover, Kent

Capacity: The largest room holds up to 100 delegates

Training facilities: Standard AV equipment and six acres of parkland for activities

Parking: 70 spaces

Accommodation: None on-site but hotels nearby

Rates: Available on request

Dinner menu: Local and seasonal where possible

Green credentials: Named the Sustainable Building of the Year (for a small project) at the Sustainable Building Awards 2007 sponsored by Building Magazine, Pines Calyx has been designed to make optimal use of natural light – saving on electricity. Natural air conditioning via an earth tube also enables a constant flow of fresh air that is heated or cooled by the ground. The water supply comes from a natural borehole and wastewater generated by the venue is treated by a reed-bed system within the garden grounds.

The Midlands

Losehill Hall, Derbyshire

Capacity: The largest training room holds 80-100 delegates theatre style

Training facilities: Four training rooms with standard AV equipment, three seminar rooms and 27 acres of parkland

Parking: 54 spaces

Accommodation: 41 en-suite bedrooms

Rate: Day rate £30.00 + VAT/ 24-hour rate £93.00 + VAT

Dinner menu: Four-courses using suppliers who have been awarded the Peak District Environmental Quality Mark wherever possible

Green credentials: Set in the heart of Peak District National Park, the venue achieved eco-centre status in 2003 and since then has installed a biomass boiler that uses fuel sourced from within a 10-mile radius. All waste is recycled and the venue has reduced the waste it sends to landfill by 25% in the past year alone.

London

Dexter House, London EC3

Capacity: Up to 250 delegates

Training facilities: Standard AV equipment and free wi-fi access throughout the day.

Parking: Easily reached by public transport.

Accommodation: Hotels nearby

Rate: All-inclusive delegate day rate is£85.00 + VAT

Dinner menu: Includes seared mackerel, Moroccan falafel and baked American cheesecake.

Green credentials: Owned by etc.venues, which was awarded the National Recycling Award for Small Business Initiatives in 2007, Dexter House was designed with sustainability in mind and includes 100% recycled and compostable fabrics, as well as carbon negative carpets. It also houses a Vivreau water system, which eliminates the need for bottled water – it’s more than just a mains water tap. All food served is organic.

Wales

TYF Eco Hotel, Pembrokeshire

Capacity: Up to 30 delegates

Training facilities: A main conference/meeting room and a number of breakout rooms. Standard AV equipment and wireless internet access available

Parking: 12 spaces

Accommodation: 12 bedrooms – a mix of doubles, twins and singles – that can accommodate up to 26 people. Self-catering accommodation is available in Ty Hir Cottage next door to the hotel which sleeps up to eight people

Rate: Day rate is £22.00 per person / 24-hour rate is £100.00

Dinner menu: Includes pork chops, chestnut and wild mushroom risotto and Welsh apple crumble

Green credentials: Grade II-listed TYF Eco Hotel is Wales’ first organic-certified hotel, so nearly all food and drink served is organic. An externally certified ‘Green Dragon Level 3′ environmental management system is run at the hotel, which ensures that its environmental performance is continually improving. Current schemes include the use of green electricity and a commitment to offsetting its carbon emissions.

Cwmbiga Farm, Nr Llanidloes, Mid Wales

Capacity: Two meeting rooms that can each seat up to 25 people

Training facilities: Standard AV equipment and 60 acres of land for team-building events

Parking: 25 spaces

Accommodation: Beds for 22 people with five en-suite bedrooms

Rate: Room hire from £250 per day

Dinner menu: Home cooked buffet style with nut/wheat/gluten/dairy free options on request

Green credentials: Heating at Cwmbiga is provided by a 50kW log burning boiler fuelled by logs from locally sourced trees, as well as by 40 square metres of solar thermal panels. Decorated using eco paints, the site uses low-energy lighting while the showers are fitted with aerating heads to reduce water usage. All vegetable waste is composted.

Trigonos, Caernarfon, Wales

Capacity: Up to 40 delegates

Training facilities: Two main meeting rooms, standard AV equipment and 18 acres of gardens and grounds

Parking: 30 spaces

Accommodation: 19 bedrooms accommodating 29 people

Rate: Day rate £20 per delegate / 24-hour rate £58. Room hire £60

Dinner menu: Includes organic leg of Welsh spring lamb and goats cheese filo parcels

Green credentials: Having achieved level 2 of the Green Dragon Environmental Management System, heating and hot water at Trigonos is supplied by a low-carbon local-woodchip boiler while all its electricity comes from a renewable energy supply

Much of the fruit and vegetables served are grown organically on site, while all vegetable food waste is composted or fed to the chickens

The old stone building has been updated and includes sheep’s wool insulation.

The North

The Haybergill Centre, near Appleby, Cumbria.

Capacity: Up to 30 people

Training facilities: One main meeting room and several break-out rooms

Parking: 24 spaces

Accommodation: Up to 30 beds using 12 rooms in three buildings. Most rooms en-suite

Rate Day rate from £35 + VAT per delegate / 24 hour rate from £70 + VAT

Dinner menu: Meals use mainly local fresh produce and the owners have produced their own cookbook

Green credentials: Completed in 1999, Haybergill was built to fit into its natural surroundings and is designed to be eco-friendly. The frame is constructed from new growth timber from managed forests and is sheathed with panels made from timber waste. The all round insulation uses recycled cellulose, which keeps energy losses low. The whole building rests on pillars, greatly reducing the damage to the adjacent tree root system and allowing the centre to fit snugly into its surroundings. Earlier this year the owners built a polytunnel and are now growing much of their own vegetables and salad plants.

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