Sustainability and Corporate Social Reponsibility

York Conferences and Events is a subsidiary company of the University of York. All our profits go back into the University, funding developments in facilities, research and education.

The University of York is a member of the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) and thus sustainable principles underpin the University’s £500 million campus expansion. It is a visionary development with a target to achieve an “excellent” BREEAM rating, with a minimum of “very good” for all buildings. As a Green Flag campus since 2013, we've held the benchmark national standard for publicly accessible parks and green spaces in the UK.

The 117-hectare expansion includes measures to ensure more efficient use of energy and water, and the further reduction, reuse and recycling of waste. The University is also developing a combined heat and power plant, as well as investigating the feasibility of using wind power, to meet the energy needs of the entire campus.

Sustainable Venues

Picking a venue that shares your sustainable goals is key when running sustainable events. As a subsidiary of the University of York, York Conferences and Events has sustainability at its heart, and in line with the University’s mission, we are proud to declare our commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions on campus by 2030, part of the 2021-2030 Sustainability Plan.

Energy and Carbon Management

At the University of York we are proud to say that we have a 100% divestment from fossil fuels, and instead now generate 26,000kWh / year solar energy from our 80 solar panels installed across our University campus. All of our purchased electricity is from a green tariff / renewable source. The wind farm in our EDF deal is located at Rusholme near Selby on the River Ouse. Combined heat and power machines, installed on campus in 2012, generate 60% of the electricity consumed on campus and provide heat for the hot water system.

Within our city centre venue, The Guildhall York, a river water source heat pump was installed, as part of the refurbishment and redevelopment which was completed in 2022.The river water source heat pump installation creates carbon savings of around 40 tonnes per year in operation, when compared against an equivalent fossil fuel energy solution, will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the historic building at the heart of the city.

Sustainable Travel

The University of York is a very popular place to visit. We have over 15,000 students, 3,500 staff and over 37,000 conference guests coming to campus each year. The potential implications for congestion and traffic pollution are obvious. We have excellent public transport links to and from the campus and a free University bus to take staff, students and visitors around campus. Our Travel and Transport team are happy to work with our organisers to suggest the most sustainable transport options for your event including discounted bus tickets. The University is pleased to be working with Tier, who provide E-scooters and e-bikes for the city, and are available to shuttle between Campus East and West or the city centre for just 18p per minute (£1 to unlock). Find out more about the Tier scheme.

Wildlife and Biodiversity

A key characteristic of the University of York is our lakeside campuses that are home to an abundance of wildlife. The evolving landscape is designed not only to provide a beautiful and tranquil environment for staff, students and visitors, but a habitat capable of supporting an increasingly diverse range of animals and plants. Our projects include owl nesting boxes, bug hotels, tern rafts, sand martin nesting boxes, a wildlife hide, bee garden and wildflower meadow.

Our Estates Services are improving the sustainability of the campus through operating an Environmental Management System in accordance with their DECS Quality and Environmental Policy. The system has successfully achieved certification to the ISO14001 standard.

Fair Trade and Procurement

All University restaurants and cafes serve Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance tea and coffee as standard. It is not just how we conduct our core business of research and teaching that makes a difference. The way we procure goods and services and the way we invest our funds can also have a significant impact on our local community and the wider world.

Fair Trade
All University restaurants and cafes serve Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance tea and coffee as standard.
Food Procurement
With a large number of restaurants, food and drink outlets and catering facilities, the University has an obligation to purchase, prepare, deliver food and dispose of waste as responsibly as it can.

Here are some examples of how we do this:

  • Our restaurants and cafes offer a range of products based on raw materials from ethical and sustainable sources
  • All fresh eggs are 'Lion Branded' free range
  • To keep road miles to a minimum we purchase most of our raw materials from suppliers within the Yorkshire and Humberside region who deliver in crates to cut down on packaging. Our meat supplier is in Strensall, just 9 miles from the University
  • Most of our meat comes fresh from Strensall, using suppliers who demonstrate the highest standards of animal welfare
  • Our fish comes from suppliers who comply with the Food and Agriculture Organisation Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. We do not purchase endangered species e.g. Bluefin Tuna
  • We source good quality products from local artisan suppliers thereby supporting the local economy
  • Tap water is available in most outlets
In line with the University’s Sustainable Development Policy, we strive to minimise the amount of waste (particularly that sent to landfill) and any food waste we produce is taken to a waste treatment site for in-vessel composting, that generates both electricity (through gas given off) and compost. By liaising closely with our conference organisers concerning their requirements and obtaining accurate numbers, our catering team are able to order and prepare food accordingly, therefore minimising food waste.

Recycling vs Landfill

The University is consistently recycling and composting over 50% of its waste, with the majority of the remaining waste being used to create energy through refuse derived fuel, resulting in less than 1% of waste actually ending up in landfill.

None of our main waste at the University of York goes to landfill and 53% of main waste at the university was recycled in 2021/22. We recycle more types of waste than local kerbside collections allow, in addition to recycling our food waste into biofuel and compost.

To continue to reduce, reuse and recycle the waste we create at the University, we need your help too. Make sure you're making the most of the waste facilities across campus by reading the A-Z University Waste Guide. For services within our city centre venues, the recycling and waste systems are operated by York City Council.

Take a look at our sustainable facilities map.

Commercial Services Catering and Hospitality

Commercial Services Catering and Hospitality plays a key role in the provision and support of more sustainable choices for our customers.

We are constantly striving to incorporate environmental and social considerations when choosing our suppliers, during production and the delivery of our services.

View our Catering Sustainability Policy.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

York Conferences and Events are a subsidiary company of The University of York and therefore align themselves with the University’s equality, diversity and inclusion policies.

The University of York values the diversity of its members and is committed to the creation of a positive environment which is fair, welcoming and inclusive where:

  • Everyone is treated with dignity and respect
  • Harassment and bullying are unacceptable;
  • This commitment is stated in our Policies and implemented through the Code of Practice on Harassment which applies to staff, students and visitors.