How to Create Next Level Green Events

22 July 2016

For a long time the words ‘environmental’ or ‘green’ made finance teams and the C suite roll their eyes. They were buzzwords, given a bit of lip service by most companies but never really bought into. Thanks to a seismic shift in the corporate landscape though, environmental issues are now at the forefront of many people’s working lives. They’re a very real day-to-day consideration as a key Corporate Social Responsibility issue, a key stakeholder issue and a key moral issue for many organisations.

The result is that sales managers and execs, already under pressure to plan and deliver an event on time and onbudget, often also find themselves under pressure to create a green event. Luckily, sustainable, carbon-neutral and socially responsible corporate events are a rapidly growing part of the sector, and events can be elevated to an environmentally-aware game-changer by following a few simple rules...

Offset Your Event’s Carbon Footprint

The idea of offsetting your event’s carbon footprint is a simple one: everyone travelling to attend, and all of the activities on the day(s), will contribute towards CO² emitted. Those emissions can be offset by a specialist company, who will calculate what that quantity is and then plant trees or undertake other initiatives to counteract it.

Not only will this negate much of your event’s environmental impact, but it also creates positive PR and shareable social collateral around your event. This can contribute to pre-event buzz or post-event relationship building. Carbon offsetting companies can provide speakers to explain the initiative at your event, and most have informative websites that can be linked from online registration forms or event management platforms.

Why not seek corporate sponsorship for the offsetting? It’s a great PR opportunity for the sponsor and a way for you to pursue carbon neutrality without further cost to your organisation or delegates.

Pick an Environmentally Conscious Venue

Time was that a nod to sustainability and environmental awareness in a venue’s notes was enough—but things have stepped up a gear. Look out for venues that are backing up their green messaging by adhering to voluntary international standards for sustainable events and management like ISO 14001 and ISO 20121. These management systems create frameworks for events that ingrain target setting and best practices in planning and execution.

Some venues offer structured environmentally-aware events packages that allow clients to dial up or dial back in certain areas, including transport, catering, water and waste management, energy sources and more.

Venues can add real value by offering a range of services from on-site black water treatment and biodiverse planting to green roofs and innovative recycling and energy-harnessing solutions. The best will also have open, transparent and thorough reporting on progress in these areas - which gives you a set of metrics to keep stakeholders and leadership happy in your event reporting.

Pick an Environmentally Conscious Destination

Depending on the scale and purpose of your event, this may be as simple as choosing a venue close to your workplace or delegates to minimise travel. You could choose a destination easily accessible by rail and encourage attendees to arrive by train, or build a car-sharing system into your planning.

... but It doesn’t have to be that simple. Green destinations further afield include Costa Rica—a country with some incredible options for conference or adventure experience venues thatkeeps breaking world records for sustainability. The country ran purely on renewable energy for around 2.5 months in 2015, and 94% of its energy comes from renewable sources. Closer to home Helsinki has some exceptional green credentials, and Switzerland was ranked world leader for sustainable tourism in the most recent Global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report thanks to a drive to ‘green up’ all its major cities, prioritise renewable energies and reduce emissions.

Think About Hosting a Virtual Event

Do all of your delegates need to be in a room together? Popular with organisations with a globally dispersed workforce, virtual events—where delegates meet online, rather than physically - are a much greener option than the more ‘traditional’ route of flights, venue and hard copies of resources.

As well as carbon outlay in travel, virtual events also reduce waste—a 2009 Cisco virtual event for 19,000 sales people saved the estimated 84,000 tons of CO2 emissions and 209,000 pounds of waste that the same event would have created if held as a face-to-face event.

There is more opportunity now than ever before to create a genuinely sustainable, carbon-neutral or socially responsible event. We would love to help you create an event with real flair, real, tangible results and a real sense of environmental awareness - get in touch now via our Contact page.