Convention centers are huge consumers of energy, sell huge amounts of takeout food and disposable cups, and generate a huge amount of waste. Much of it is out of anyone's control; a convention centre can't tell a visitor or an exhibitor what to do. But the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre certainly appears to be trying; they are planning to add an urban greenhouse designed by Benthem Crouwel.
Having been in the terrible food courts of quite a few North American food courts, I find their restaurant appealing. In the press release they write:
An Exhibition and Convention Centre is not the first place you'd think to look for a hip, eco-friendly cafe. But with the reopening of its Grand Cafe, Exhibition and Convention Centre Amsterdam RAI is embracing its sustainable side in a way Amsterdammers can't help but notice. And it's not only because the spacious, well-lit cafe is dominated by a two-story vertical garden. Most of the food at Amsterdam RAI's Grand Cafe is locally sourced from farms, urban greenhouses and cheese farms in and around Amsterdam.
They even get some of their deliveries by electric barge. From the press release:
Quiet, clean and uninfluenced by traffic congestion, a completely loaded ship replaces between 5-6 trucks traveling through the city. "It's an innovative way to tap into an age-old Dutch transport tradition," says MVO Manager Marjolijn Krul of Exhibition and Convention Centre Amsterdam RAI. "We're on board, now we just want a few hundred more to follow."
Going beyond the press release, the Amsterdam RAI produces an extensive Sustainability Report that makes interesting reading. They acknowledge that tens of thousand of people go through a place like this, and that "it's hard to change human behaviour." For instance, they missed their target for reduction in electrical consumption, even though they are changing all their lighting to LED.
Despite our hard work and investments, the total electricity consumption increased...RAI has little influence on the electricity consumption of exhibitors. Exhibitors have been using more electricity over recent years due to the increased use of TV screens, computers and other electronic devices.
When they banned electric coolers in the hall to save energy, their water consumption went up. However they have reduce waste by 19% and are starting to charge exhibitors for the waste they create, which frankly is the only way they are going to get the exhibitors to care; they either pay or take it away.
They have also done clever projects with the Dutch railway, offering combination tickets that include transport and admission. And of course, they offer acres of bike parking. Impressive stuff at Amsterdam RAI.