The impact of COVID19 meant that event managers had to push greener alternatives out of necessity. However, now that we are moving towards more in-person events or hybrid alternatives, some of these reductions are being lost. For future events, it’s vital that we keep in mind the impact that large events have upon the environment and how we can work smarter to lessen these. Technology is the key to many of these improvements. Here we explore some greener options to help your events become more sustainable.
Many large, in-person events require that people travel to a fixed venue, which often means travelling by air.
The average conference attendee emits approximately 145KG of CO2 emissions per day, but when there is extensive travel involved, this can soar to almost two tonnes per attendee.Conferencenews.co.uk
To diminish an event’s carbon footprint, you might want to consider how to cut travel to your physical venues. This might mean incentivising short distance travel or offering greener transport for people attending that are close by the venue (e.g. green bus services, cycling or rail).
The greenest way is to cut travel entirely is by holding a fully online event; however, this might deter some of your audience. Offering your delegates and speakers the choice – by opting for a hybrid event with a robust online platform – means that those who are further away from the venue can still confidently present and attend talks remotely. Holding local nodal events can be a good way to get a best of both worlds, the attendees meet together in their local area and the get a feed of the wider event with options to interact, or even present.
Virtual event worlds
Often event conferencing platforms can feel a bit sterile and unwieldy, which can put off visitors. Event organisers have been testing out 3D worlds as an alternative with avatars for each attendee. This allows the delegates, speakers and exhibitors the chance to navigate a model of the virtual event hall and interact with other avatars. For some events, this could be a good alternative for those who want a physical-feeling venue and networking that’s more than just a chatbox or video call.
Consider integrating a completely online booking system that issues virtual tickets and offers a downloadable online programme or an event app to navigate. Instead of asking for business cards, smart readers can glean information from badges. When printing is really necessary, ensure your printers use recycled paper and vegetable inks. Look into recyclable posters and stands or digital screens for exhibitor and event information for your signage. When providing catering, think about single usage items, provide greener alternatives with compostable, recyclable options, and after the event, perhaps instead of throwing all the food waste away, you could donate to a local shelter.
Auditing suppliers and your event
When you commit to making a sustainable conference, you also need to ensure that your third-party suppliers will adhere to your green guidelines. Take an audit of your suppliers to ensure each one can meet your sustainability goals. Look for suppliers that have certification as a green supplier, such as the ISO 20121 International Standard for Sustainable Event Management. You might also want to use the self-assessment framework and guidelines set out by this standard for your event. Being able to show that you are certifiably a sustainable event with an ISO accreditation can increase your ESG profile with your stakeholders.
Reducing your energy impact
Online video conferencing can use a lot of energy and impact carbon emissions, so when deciding on a conference video platform, consider using one that uses less energy per minute. Greenspector has analysed all the video conference apps and their energy usage. They also suggest turning off your camera when it’s not needed—and just using audio is better for the environment as it consumes less data and can save energy
Some wastage is inevitable at an event, whether through travel, materials or loss of energy. Opting for a carbon offsetting strategy can help you reduce your footprint by investing in environment-positive projects such as planting trees to replace the CO2 your event has used. GoRemote has adopted this strategy – we have already planted a hundred trees in Kenya with www.carbonfootprint.com.This year we are taking part in 1% for the planet, where we are giving 1% of our turnover to offset carbon, for more information on this scheme: go to www.onepercentfortheplanet.org
GoRemote: Greener events
GoRemote is committed to making our virtual and hybrid speaker support services greener; we are starting to adapt our processes to make changes and improve as we go. We also work with events like ChangeNOW that brings together world-class leaders to discuss environmental innovations, Ben Axtell, one of our co-founders appeared on their TV channel discussing the environmental benefits of virtual – you can watch the full interview here.