Carbon Neutral and Green Events
Customized programs to measure and offset your next event .
How we can help
From conferences to concerts, it seems like almost everyone is thinking about how to make their events more sustainable and eco-friendly. For event managers, ClimatePath offers scoping advice, footprint assessment, verification, and offsetting. Please contact us for details.
Just what is a carbon footprint for an event?
The term carbon footprint refers to to the greenhouse gas impact - measured in the amount of C02 equivalent emissions - created by your event. But what emissions should be counted in your event, and how to you measure them? In determining what to measure, greenhouse gas emissions are often referred to as scope 1, scope 2, or scope 3. Related to events:
- Scope 1 emissions are those directly occurring "from sources that are owned or controlled", such as work vehicles.
- Scope 2 emissions are emissions generated in the production of electricity consumed by the event organizer's activity. This also includes energy generated at the event location.
- Scope 3 emissions are all the other indirect emissions that are a consequence of the activities of the event, but occur from sources not owned or controlled event organizer. These include air and ground travel, hotel stays, emissions of the production and transportation of purchased goods; outsourced activities; and so forth.
Scope 3 is where the confusion comes in. Emerging event standards encourage event planners to look holistically at everything from attendee travel to meals and paper usage in developing a sustainability plan and measuring overall impact and footprint. But less clear is what the event planner's role is in reducing the impact vs. simply encouraging attendees to mitigate. Whether you choose to follow a standard or your own best practices as part of your emissions measurement and offsetting, it is critical to be transparent, so that claims can be understood and verified. Because of this ambiguity, ClimatePath does not offer a generic event calculator on our website. But we can assist you in setting scope, making the calculations, and developing transparent messaging.
Travel trumps all others
Attendee travel to and from your event is particularly impactful, accounting for as much 90% or more of the overall footprint if a majority of attendees are flying. Even with no air travel, ground transportation and hotel use alone can account for 65-70% of the event's carbon footprint is still travel related. Outside of travel, an actual event's footprint is in the range of 25 lb per day per person. So for a two-day 1000 person event, the actual "scope 1 and 2" footprint might only be 25 tons of CO2, while attendee travel can be anywhere from 100 to 800 tons! Encouraging your attendees to offset their travel can be more valuable then your own efforts. ClimatePath can help you develop a program to address your event footprint, and encourage attendees to do the same.
Some other tips for how you can ‘green’ your event
- 1. Set a waste goal and arrange for recycling. The more you can keep out of landfills, the better for the planet. With a little planning you can divert 80% or more of your waste. Make sure that you or your site/facility has recycling and compost bins available, and that they are visible and placed in the right locations. Choose recyclable and compostable materials and avoid single serving items when bulk will do. Getting rid of items like bottled water can actually save you money as well as reduce trash.
- 2. Watch your energy use. Energy generation creates greenhouse gas emissions that leads to climate change. Decide how much lighting you really need, and turn off equipment between sessions.
- 3. Think about transportation needs. How will attendees get to your event? If you can, select a location that is central, convenient, and accessible via public transportation. Aside from providing information on public transportation options, encourage carpooling.
- 4. Offset your carbon footprint. You can offset this carbon footprint by supporting projects at ClimatePath for roughly $11/ton, or $0.25 per attendee.
- 5. Less paper, please. Events tend to waste a lot of paper, which requires trees, energy, electricity, and water. Print materials and handouts on recycled paper, and use both sides when possible. Encourage emailing or web posting of handouts rather printing them. Try to make banners and posters reusable. Ask vendors and exhibitors to take back whatever collateral isn’t used, rather than throwing it out.
- 6. Food and other sourcing: Providing local, organic and vegetarian food options is always appreciated. Less meat means a lower footprint. Ask food vendors what they do to be greener, to minimize packaging, and arrange to donate extra un-served food. For extra credit, ask for fair trade coffee and tea. It’s grown more sustainably and helps farmers.
- 7. Spread the word. Let your attendees know about your efforts, and ask for their cooperation. You’ll be surprised by the enthusiasm. You can make a difference, and event goers appreciate the effort!
We welcome you to contact us by phone at 925 297-6017.
We welcome you to contact us by email at info at climatepath.org.