With sustainability now a key priority across all corporate activities, companies need to align events and conferences with eco-standards. For brands committed to displaying their eco-consciousness, careful planning and strategic insight are key to sculpting truly sustainable events.
Here, we outline core factors to consider and demonstrate how measurement tools like NetNada can optimise efforts.
1. Measure the Carbon Footprint
To create a sustainable event, before anything, it is fundamental that the event’s carbon footprint is measured, analysed and understood.
Major emissions contributors typically include:
- Transportation - Flight emissions from attendee travel along with ground transport like speaker shuttles. Consider origin cities and vehicle types.
- Venue Operations - Energy for lighting, heating, cooling systems based on venue size, layout and appliances.
- Logistics - Production and transport emissions from signage, brochures, decorations, food and beverage supplies.
Platforms like NetNada offer detailed carbon accounting to pinpoint the largest emissions drivers. For example, a 2500 person, 3-day conference may find 45% of emissions stem from attendee flights. This insight lets planners target high-impact areas.
2. Select Sustainable Venues
Venue selection plays a key role in minimising operational emissions. Prioritise locations with:
- Energy Efficient Systems - e.g. LED and natural lighting, high-efficiency HVAC, smart building automation.
- Renewable Energy - e.g. rooftop solar panels, offsite wind or solar farms, renewable energy procurement contracts.
- Sustainable Operations - e.g. water conservation fixtures, waste diversion through composting and recycling.
Ideally, seek out venues with rigorous sustainability certifications like Green Globe or net zero policies. For example, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) runs on 100% renewable energy and achieved carbon neutral certification in 2021.
3. Offer Sustainable Transportation
With travel emissions frequently substantial, optimise attendee and speaker transport:
- Promote Public Transport - Provide free passes along with convenient directions to nearby rail, bus and tram routes.
- Arrange Shared Shuttles - Coordinate seat-efficient shuttles from central transport hubs or major hotels to event site.
- Offer Virtual Access - Hybrid events with live-streamed content reduce in-person travel needs.
- Encourage Carpooling - Attendee carpooling apps and parking incentives can nudge more sustainable choices.
4. Source Sustainable Catering
Food systems generate 25-30% of global emissions. As such, hosting a sustainable event largely benefits from applying the following guidelines to catering and menus:
- Go Local - Services using locally grown, in-season produce avoid transport kilometres.
- Support Sustainable Farms - Seek organic, environmentally conscious food providers.
- Reduce Waste - Caterers with policies to minimise food waste through prudent purchasing.
- Offer Plant-Based Options - Providing meat and dairy alternatives reduces emissions intensity.
5. Minimise Materials Waste
Despite best efforts, events generate waste. Tactics to reduce volume include:
- Digitalise Collaterals - Avoid mass printed invites, posters, agendas by using email, apps, website.
- Minimise Giveaways - Repurpose badge holders, bags. Or give useful, non-plastic takeaways.
- Use Reusables - Choose reusable tableware, decor elements, signage over disposables.
- Ensure Responsible Waste Management - Partner with experts in recycling, composting food waste, tracking disposal.
6. Neutralise Residual Emissions
Offsetting allows businesses to counterbalance hard-to-avoid emissions by funding independently verified projects like reforestation or renewable energy. NetNada streamlines the process via:
- Carbon Measurement - Accurately quantify event emissions needing offsets.
- Project Partnerships - Connect with trusted offset providers around the globe.
- Impact Reporting - Monitor contribution and receive offset certificates.
NetNada isn’t just about measurement. Our platform also connects businesses with trusted offset partners, streamlining the journey towards carbon neutrality.
7. Engage Attendees in the Journey
Communicating sustainability efforts before, during and after events is powerful. Tactics include:
- Pre-Event Sustainability Report - Share carbon goals, initiatives, partners.
- Onsite Messaging - Welcome guide content, signage, stage announcements.
- Post-Event Sustainability Report - Recap successes, impact of attendee participation.
- Feedback Channels - Surveys, post-event comments to identify improvement areas.
Sustainable events demonstrate an eco-conscious ethos and future-focused outlook. NetNada’s measurement tools provide actionable insights to maximise impact. With environmental strategy, businesses can deliver events that are simultaneously sustainable, entertaining and successful.