Sustainable Events: It doesn’t need to be ‘Green-Themed’ in order to be ‘Green’

November 26, 2013 - 10:29

In case you weren’t aware, events have the potential to generate a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Whether it’s people flying or driving to the event venue, the natural gas and electricity used over the course of a week-long event, or the excessive amount of waste generated, there are a multitude of elements to consider when trying to ‘green up’ your event.

As a company that often works with organizations that are looking to incorporate sustainability into event management, we run in to companies with different motivations for doing so. Of course, many event managers that want to host carbon-neutral or sustainable events are hosting an event with a link to sustainability – for instance an energy efficiency seminar, or an event hosted by a regional sustainability group such as Sustainable Waterloo, Niagara Sustainability Initiative or Sustainable Hamilton. All three of these groups choose to measure and offset their events with Carbonzero.

The fact that environmentally-focused organizations are hosting eco-friendly events is no surprise, but what perhaps is a bit more surprising is how many event managers are choosing to go with sustainable event options even when their event is not ‘green-themed’. Just take a look around the globe today – Both the 2012 and 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games are incorporating carbon-neutrality. Even the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be offsetting emissions from the global event.

Stopping and thinking about the scale of both of these events is an excellent testament to how important carbon-neutrality is on the event hosts’ respective agendas. By no means will carbon-neutrality be the primary attraction at an event such as the Olympic Games or FIFA World Cup, but the event organizers have realized that their events carry a significant environmental impact and are acting to mitigate that environmental impact on behalf of event attendees.

Now, whoever is reading this most likely isn’t planning an event with the magnitude of the Olympics or the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any reason to consider sustainability or carbon-neutrality for your next event, whether it’s green focused or not. By offsetting smaller or medium sized events, you’re still able take responsibility for the event’s environmental impact in the same way that the previously mentioned larger events have, by allowing the event to have a net zero climatic impact. It’s also a fantastic way to communicate your organization’s sustainability approach to all of the individuals who participate in your events.

Talk to your colleagues, talk to past event-attendees and ask, ‘are green events important to you?’ You might be surprised at how important sustainability has become in the event management space – and remember, just because your event doesn’t relate to sustainability doesn’t mean it can’t be a sustainable event! Look around at what’s being done in the event management field, and if it indeed appeals to you and your colleagues, then get involved!

Feel free to continue the discussion on our LinkedIn Group, our Twitter feed or just send us an message if you’re not the social media type.

Liam Conway, Technical Analyst