The Millennium Stadium has launched its commitment to becoming the UK’s first certifiably sustainable ‘green’ event venue – working towards the BSI British Standard 8901 accreditation recognised throughout the events industry.

The British Standard for Sustainable Management Systems for Events will provide a tangible system for managing the overall environmental, economic and social impact of an event via independent third party assessment and the journey is well underway at the home of Welsh sport with a pre-assessment booked for December 2010.

Existing design elements such as rainwater harvesting within the pitch irrigation system, infra red controls fitted in the urinals to prevent unnecessary flushing and meters installed to monitor energy and water consumption have started the ball rolling at the iconic multi-event venue.

The stadium must now look to define and implement its sustainability policy and monitor and evaluate the event against key performance indicators to claim compliance with the standard and demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.

Millennium Stadium Manager Gerry Toms said: “Working towards BS 8901 certification has prioritised our commitment to sustainability at the Millennium Stadium.

“While we have always considered our impact on the environment, and have introduced systems such as rain and waste recycling in the past, we are now looking at more ways to run the business more efficiently and build for the future.

“We already know that many event promoters have themselves stepped up their commitment to sustainability and will look forward to the competitive advantage the certification will afford us throughout Wales and the United Kingdom.”

Mr Toms added: “The events at the Millennium Stadium contribute over 100 million pounds to the local economy each year and it is important that we keep attracting the biggest and the best events to Cardiff.

“We hope that by demonstrating good practice we can encourage the participation of our staff and all our stakeholders not only on event day, but every day.”

Environment Minister, Jane Davidson has expressed her support for the project. She said: “I commend the team at the Millennium Stadium for the efforts it is making to make the building more sustainable.

“We can only tackle climate change if action is taken by each and every one of us. It is not down to one single organisation to address, but for all of us, making small changes to our homes, work places and lives. The Millennium Stadium is setting an excellent example and I wish the team well with its assessment.”

Stadium facilities manager Darren Crossman heads up the project, which aims to introduce robust evidence of sustainable practice by looking at new ways to incur savings through reduction of waste, lower energy use and re-use of equipment and infrastructure.

In its early stages, the project has spurred a review of the installation of LED lighting to reduce electricity consumption, alternative methods of water heating in the kitchens to allow boilers to be shut down in summer and new lighting controls which allow specific areas only to be lit, including corridors and walkways.

The Millennium Stadium also recycles all of its waste, as Darren Crossman explains: “Our maintenance department has worked very hard to ensure that we have virtually no landfill waste. We produce between 350 and 500 tons of waste per year and all recyclable material is segregated for that purpose, leaving only residual waste that cannot be treated."

“But sustainability does not stop at waste,” he added. “We have been busy upgrading the building management system to give a better control on equipment such as heating and ventilation and we continue to look at alternative ways to produce electricity such as photo voltaic cells, small wind turbines and voltage optimisation."

Darren is also charged with promoting sustainable development internally within the organisation – the day to day operating procedures and to ensure input, commitment and consistency from all stakeholders including suppliers and service providers as well as staff.

“Millennium Stadium employees are already engaged with a variety of positive measures for ensuring sustainability however, as we are looking at ways to enhance the systems already in place, we will need to educate staff accordingly.”

Andrew Morris, Business Development director at BSI , said: “Our climate is changing with potentially substantial implications for governments and industries. The events industry is no exception. Anyone involved in organising and managing events needs to understand these trends and the implications on their business in order to implement strategies that will enable the business to respond in a more sustainable way.”

As well as the inbuilt design elements, other sustainable operational initiatives are considered such as the promotion of public transport via the venue’s stakeholders on event day.

The Millennium Stadium Community Events initiative hosts 15 events per year to allow local charitable and community organisations to use the venue free of hire charge.

The Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust has distributed £3million worth of grants to more than 650 groups throughout Wales since it was formed in 2001.

Additionally, Millennium Stadium caterers, Compass Group UK, ensure that all food on the Millennium Stadium’s menu is made from locally sourced ingredients.

The BS8901 accreditation has been backed by other major venues such as the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Lord’s Cricket Ground and Earl’s Court & Olympia.

Fully accredited venues are responsible for reviewing each event and providing feedback to positively affect future events.