During a month in which sustainability has been a hot topic of industry discussion, Mike Fletcher reports on the advice, together with a selection of the resources currently available to event professionals.
Anyone who saw the final episode of Sir David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet II on the BBC can be in no doubt that global warming is already having a catastrophic impact on rising sea levels and the survival prospects of Arctic wildlife.
Viewers learned of dying penguin and seal populations, struggling polar bears and the accelerated thawing of sea ice and glaciers in a stark warning over the future of our planet.
At the end of the episode, the 96-year-old naturalist made what some will regard as his final impassioned plea by looking directly into the camera and telling viewers:
What resources are available?
Event organisers have been reminded a lot recently that calculating and reducing the carbon emissions associated with both their programmes and delegate behaviours is well within their powers.
Sessions on tracking and implementing sustainability goals delivered some sound advice during day two of the Cvent CONNECT customer conference, held online and in-person at the Intercontinental – The O2 earlier this month. While climate conscious organisations such as Reset Connect and Isla have been visible across numerous webinars and workshops, banging the sustainability drum and offering a wealth of resources aimed at event professionals.
The TRACE platform helps planners to measure and minimise carbon at live, hybrid and digital events by calculating carbon and waste footprints and by providing in-app reduction tips and guidance.
The data is compliant with Scope 1 (carbon emissions), Scope 2 (energy consumption) and Scope 3 (supply chain management) reporting. Plus, planners can download detailed but easy-to-understand graphs and charts to embed into their own event reports and debriefing documents.
Anna Abdelnoor, CEO and Co-Founder of Isla says: “TRACE lets you measure the full scope of your events programme and, unlike more generic carbon calculators, it can delve into granular planning details such as materials used, food types, where staff are staying and other carbon emitting touch-points. When you have a fuller picture of your emissions, you can implement strategy and put tactics in place to reduce them.”
TRACE demos take place online every Friday and can be booked via the website.
Proseed meanwhile is templated guidance, designed to demystify the complexities of sustainable events by helping planners to understand what to ask their supply chain and what answers to expect.
It also provides actions to take in order to benchmark and reduce emissions – like how to measure energy usage, track travel footprint, limit food waste and build more eco-friendly sets.
What advice can you follow?
Further actionable advice was imparted by Kris Justice, Cvent’s Senior Manager, Enterprise Customer Success who, during a webinar entitled ‘What’s your sustainability game plan for your events?’, suggested making it mandatory for RFPs to always be sent out to at least one venue with proven sustainability credentials.
She says: “By using the Cvent Supplier Network, planners can can apply environmentally friendly tagging and prioritise sustainability within search, while also using 3D floor-plans to limit in-person site visits and the maps feature to identify venues with close proximity to public transport or within walking distance from a certain hotel.”
During another recent webinar, this time hosted by virtual event platform Glisser, Duncan Reid, the Co-Founder of Reset Connect – an exhibition and conference which takes place during London Climate Action Week in June – reminded viewers that adding more sustainable hybrid elements to an in-person content programme will help to attract a wider audience online, reduce long-haul delegate travel, and open-up the stage to a broader range of speakers.
“We were able to attract some really high-profile speakers to present and sit on panels remotely, which was a game-changer for the success of our first event,” Reid says. “My advice is to invest in a technical production team that really understands how to dial-in speakers across multiple stages, allowing everyone to see and hear each other for the most impactful experience.”
Choosing a venue can make all the difference
When it came to choosing a venue for the inaugural Reset Connect 2022, Reid went with ExCeL London since it is powered 100% by renewable energy and is certified carbon neutral.
“This means we didn’t have to account for venue-related electricity emissions (just the associated transmissions, which ExCeL provided to us in a post-event report). The venue also offsets its water and gas so again, we weren’t accountable for these related emissions,” explains Maya Mhatre, Reset Connect’s other Co-Founder.
Collecting the data
On the subject of collecting emissions data, Mhatre advises asking delegates for their approximate travel distance and intended mode of transport at the point of event registration.
She says: “We decided to also include exhibitor and speaker travel within our event emissions. It’s not a requirement but we feel it offers the fullest picture. As there are often a lot of last-minute changes to exhibiting personnel and speakers, we collected their travel and accommodation statistics via our post-event surveys.”
To pull together all the data in order to calculate and benchmark emissions, which can then be reduced in future years, Mhatre used a ‘raw calculator’ which incorporates the UK Government GHG Protocal conversion factors to determine emissions metrics.
“We also used TRACE as a comparison,” she continues. “We found both calculators very complementary as some of the Government conversion factors can be quite generic. For example, there’s one emissions factor to cover all food and drink whether it’s coffee, beef or alcohol. Whereas TRACE breaks down the emissions based on beef, lamb, chicken, vegetarian, plant-based etc. Isla’s calculator meanwhile is based on a typical event’s emissions so having a raw calculator alongside allowed us to record emissions outside of this.”
How to measure event emissions
Rest Connect offers training on how to measure event emissions. Three two-hour online workshops walk attendees through what to measure, how to collect data, how to turn data into emissions calculations and then, how to use these calculations to create longer-term sustainability and reduction objectives.
Creating a clearer picture of event emissions before putting practical steps in place to reduce or eradicate them should now be a priority for every event planner. It’s the first steps on the road to Net Zero and will ensure the MICE industry is in step with corporate governance and reporting.
In the words of Sir Attenborough, ‘It’s within our power to do it. We can do it. We must do it.’
IBTM World’s owner, RX (Reed Exhibitions) is a signatory of the Net Zero Carbon Pledge for the Events Industry, launched prior to COP 26. This article’s author, Mike Fletcher will be traveling to IBTM World next month with London & Partners via Eurostar plus a train from Paris to Barcelona. Look out for coverage of his sustainable-focused journey soon.
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