"Safety and sustainability" are of paramount importance as trade shows and corporate events make a comeback to Asia in 2022, said Francis Teo, head of convention centres at SP Setia, which owns and manages Setia City Convention Centre in Selangor and Setia SPICE Convention Centre in Penang.
“But you can’t talk about sustainability when there’s no safety” remarked Teo, which is why SP Setia had prioritised health and safety measures at both convention centres, including the use of UVC light to sanitise the venues and getting certified as SafeBE sites by Bureau Veritas to ensure a safe and secure environment for meets post pandemic.
As the pandemic eases, Teo is adamant to shift up the sustainability gears at both convention venues. Notably, he believes Setia SPICE Convention Centre will be a standout for its strong eco-credentials.
“Setia SPICE is the world’s first hybrid solar-powered convention centre. We’ve had a solar panel on our rooftop since 2017, and based on our past records we can sustain 20-30% of our power requirement from the solar panel,” said Teo.
All power generation data from the hybrid solar panel is available real time on the centre’s website, thus enabling meeting planners to have the relevant information at hand to calculate their carbon footprint towards net zero events. The convention centre is also Green Building Index certified.
Meanwhile, sustainability initiatives such as omitting single-use plastic, bottling drinking water in-house, waste segregation and rainwater harvesting are already ongoing endeavours at the convention centre.
For instance, Setia SPICE has come up with various ways to tackle plastic waste, including upcycling event banners into products such as document folders, which are “ideal as corporate gifts while reducing waste going to the landfills”, Teo shared.
The convention venue chief also sees it as Setia SPICE’s responsibility to steer event organisers towards greener options whenever possible. A case in point is choosing bamboo over plastic packaging for packed food, even though the biodegradable option costs four or five times more. “Cost vs conscience, which one do you want?” he asked pointedly.
“We’re not net zero yet, but these are the things that we are doing right now towards that direction. This is our journey towards sustainability through all these small steps. We’re doing every little bit towards our goal one net zero.”
For sustainability, for community
The management is also keen to engage the community and embed the convention centre as an integral member of the local cultural fabric.
“We are using whatever we have available to make Setia SPICE a lot of more than just a MICE or business events venue. We want to contribute to the local economy and local community as well,” said Teo.
Not only is the convention centre’s rooftop garden a venue for events, it also doubles as a public park with features such as a spice garden, a children’s playground and a jogging track. “We are using the compound not just for international events but we are using giving back to the community as a space for them. Conference delegates and hotel guests can also join in the tai chi or Zumba lessons.”
All these fit into Setia SPICE’s masterplan which is centred around five components, namely the Convention Centre, the Arena (which houses the indoor stadium), the Canopy (which houses the rooftop park, retail outlets and offices), the Aquatic Centre (offering sports and scuba diving), and the upcoming 453-room Amari SPICE Penang, which is earmarked for opening on 1 September.
And when all five elements are ready, Teo will embark on a campaign to reignite Setia SPICE as a business meeting destination of choice. “We will have everything that will meet everyone’s needs – sweet, sour, spicy and all. We’re a destination by itself.”