Post #3: Sustainable & Social Impact Venue on the Spotlight: Kia Oval, London UK
The Virtual Events Experience is a social enterprise events agency, with the mission to make it easier to find, identify and know more about venues fully committed to a sustainable and/or social impact cause. We decided to start with Kia Oval which blends sustainability and social impact in perfection! Check out the interview conducted by our Founder & Director Pamela Benitez with Emily Pritchard the Conference and Events Sales Manager at Kia Oval.
KIA OVAL – PIONEER IN SUSTAINABILITY & SOCIAL IMPACT
Pamela Benitez had the opportunity to meet Emily Pritchard, the Conference and Events Sales Manager at Kia Oval, at Confex 2021 allowing to catch up and dive deep into the sustainable and social impact action points implemented seamlessly by Kia Oval.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your role at Kia Oval?
I grew up in Southeast London near Elephant and Castle, in my opinion still one of the greatest places on earth. With an artist for a mum and my dad being a doctor of evolutionary genetics, I have always been a little predisposed to question heavily, confront where needed, and create solutions where possible. I have always said that my main aim in life is to help cultivate change for the better, through big actions or small incremental changes.
I have worked in the events industry for 12 years, migrating from operations to sales 6 years ago. In my role as Conference and Events Sales Manager my focus has been selling, curating, and delivering events of all sizes that "do better". Always striving to do better for the client, do better for the company, do better for the guests, and do better for the environment.
As part of our company drive to be the most sustainable and socially responsible sports venue in the country, I have begun to take on more of an active role in sustainability at the venue, an area of great interest to me. This has involved setting up our carbon calculator and helping to design and implement many of our green initiatives, as well as being a sounding board for ideas.
What are the key sustainable elements that Kia Oval have in place?
As a venue, we have tried to ensure sustainability, and sustainable practices are integrated into every element of our operation. Some of the key elements that we have focused on are:
Food and Drinks
Every drink bought at the ground is served in reusable, recyclable glass. Disposable pint glasses have not been used since 2015.
All other drinks are either served in cans or decanted into reusable glasses or carafes from glass bottles.
Fourteen water fountains have been installed around the ground to allow fans to refill their own bottles.
Where appropriate, all food is served in compostable packaging and the ground has installed a comprehensive compostable waste stream, solving a problem where food waste would spoil large parts of the Club’s dry mixed recycling.
All conferences and events at the ground are serviced by filtered water in reusable glass bottles that are then retained, washed, and reused for future events.
The Club has instigated a procurement strategy focused on ensuring vendors sell products that have fully recyclable or compostable packaging.
This works alongside the eradication of the use of palm oil in our food
Actively ensuring a reduction in our food miles
Increasing plant-based options and the reduction of red meat on our menus.
Kitchens at the Kia Oval use an ‘Orca’ machine which processes food waste into a liquid that be disposed of using the regular drainage system.
All electricity at the Kia Oval is generated from renewable energy.
We have our own solar panels on the Roof of our new stand.
We have 5 separate waste streams at the Kia Oval to ensure that we are able to reduce any General waste that leaves the ground.
We are a zero-to-landfill venue
We installed water saving devices across the entire ground saving over 250,000 litres of water a year
The shop at the Kia Oval offers recyclable paper bags rather than plastic bags.
Fans are allowed to bring empty refillable coffee cups and water bottles into the ground, which will be filled by all vendors around the Kia Oval.
Plastic straws and sauce sachets have not been used at the ground since 2018.
The Club always seeks to partner with likeminded organisations and charities to allow us to constantly improve and innovate.
What are the challenges Kia Oval faces or faced to walk the sustainable path?
I think the biggest challenge that we are facing now is suppliers. I think for the first-time organisers and venues are driving the innovation for sustainable alternatives and our suppliers have yet to catch up. Don’t get me wrong the sustainable alternative that we currently have are a million miles from what we had 6-7 years ago but they aren’t where we need them to be yet.
In the events industry, and in the wider consumer world, I believe people are ready to make the changes, but we are reliant on the larger companies producing products that meet the sustainable criteria which are readily available and don’t blow the budget out of the water.
Do you have any story to share of an event organised at Kia Oval that hit the sustainable touchpoints?
I don’t want to not answer this question, but I do feel sometimes that we hold the “perfect sustainable event” on a pedestal which can make individuals seem like sustainable events aren’t possible or are too difficult. I like to live by the idea that “if something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly”.
Just because an event organiser or a venue aren’t going to pull of a carbon neutral event doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t do take small steps to be less carbon positive and I think that should be celebrated as well.
In terms of social impact, why Kia Oval is not only sustainable BUT also a social impact venue?
The Kia Oval is home to Surrey County Cricket Club and operates as a not-for-profit organisation. This means that all the money we make, from both our cricket and conference sides of the business goes back into the company and into our charity arm, Surrey Cricket Foundation. Through Surrey Cricket Foundation, the club, and the venue, we understand that we have been part of our community for 176 years and we need to ensure this community thrives alongside us. This means that we invest in our local area through green space management, local schools’ projects and engagement with all local business and stakeholders.
The Surrey Cricket Foundation as a standalone entity supports communities, schools and clubs in Surrey and South London by providing funding, knowledge, coaching and competitions. Their goal is to get more people playing cricket, and in doing so they aim to improve health and well-being within the recreational game.
Finally, what event organisers should know about Kia Oval and why they should choose the venue to host their events?
Well, I am biased, but I have to say that the venue is truly one of the most magnificent places to hold an event in London.
Not only do we tick the boxes for sustainability, CSR, and amazing event space, but we also have some of the best people working for us.
Our dedicated team of events co-ordinators have a wide range of experience in running a vast range of events - variety is truly their spice of life! Your event will be looked after by a specific contact, from the point of enquiry right through to delivery day – at which point our experienced operational team will take over to ensure everything runs impeccably.
Our constant drive for customer service and passion for events means we offer each client a bespoke experience.
Kia Oval, London UK | Profile
The Kia Oval is one of the finest – and fastest growing – conference and events destinations in central London.
A stone’s throw from the River Thames but still just outside the Congestion Charge Zone, the venue is perfectly located for the West End, Westminster, and the City.
The ground has parking for up to 50 cars on site and is within walking distance of five London Underground stations and five minutes from the overground station at Vauxhall.
Building on The Oval’s over 175-year heritage as one of the most historic sports venues in the world, every room will offer your guests a unique experience, with over 58 spaces ranging from the remarkable Victorian wood-panelled Long Room to the ground’s unique Corinthian Roof Terrace, offering panoramic views across London and even our 175 Suite, with 6m high ceilings and a 600 seated capacity for dinners. Every space is bathed in daylight and has amazing views of the pitch you will be hard pressed to find a venue like ours anywhere in London.
The Kia Oval can provide a variety of options for any kind of event, from a two-person meeting to a grand event for 1,000 guests. We regularly host large conferences, award ceremonies and dinners – with a strong roster of regularly returning clients from the commercial and public sectors.
The Kia Oval is a truly modern sports ground, existing as both an iconic international stadium in the heart of the world’s greatest capital city and a modern events venue.
Kia Oval, London UK | Upcoming events
India ODI - 12th July 2022
South Africa Test - 8th until 12th September 2022 - The final test of the Summer
The Virtual Events Experience
Would you like an event organised start to end with sustainability and/or social impact in the core?
Then, look no further! The Virtual Events Experience can help you build an amazing event at Kia Oval using only sustainable and/or social impact suppliers from the event registration platform to corporate gifting, contact us to know more about it: firstname.lastname@example.org