Many of us across the world are making conscious choices to adopt a more sustainable way of living and working, including event professionals who are looking to understand the wider impact their events have on the environment.
We caught up with Pauline Beattie, Sales Director – Scotland, Conference Care to discuss the organisation’s Carbon Consultancy and how it can greatly benefit organisers looking to reduce their event’s carbon footprint.
Pauline Beattie, Sales Director – Scotland at Conference Care. © Conference Care
Tell us more about the Carbon Consultancy and why you set it up
At Conference Care we are passionate about inspiring, innovating and creating change and helping people to achieve their goals and celebrate success. As a business we have been carbon neutral for more than 10 years and we are working towards B-Corp status.
Back in 2019 our Plan-it! sustainability team came together with a clear mandate to bring sustainability to our customers and community. The Plan-it! team shares ideas to challenge how we do things and implement change. To date they have shifted our energy supply to become totally solar-powered and helped us to develop the first carbon calculator for events.
Our Carbon Consultancy was launched in August 2021, after a year in the making, by the Plan-it! team with three specific objectives:
- To provide a validated carbon emissions measurement tool which accounts for the complex nature of in-person events.
- Offer a consultancy service based on the impact report produced by our calculator, presenting recommendations and solutions to educate and influence sustainable behaviours, ultimately reducing the carbon footprint of the event.
- Deliver a verified offset portfolio for remaining carbon emissions to be offset.
We feel the time is now, not just to talk about sustainability but to take action and spread awareness of the carbon impact of events and help the industry on its journey to net zero carbon events.
How do the products you offer work in practice and what are the options for event organisers?
Our Carbon Consultancy takes a deep dive into every aspect of events from transport to how much food wastage a venue generates and how they dispose of it and even menu choices.
We provide the event organiser with the tools to help collect this data and by engaging with all attendees of the event (including speakers, exhibitors and suppliers), we build an impact report which breaks down the carbon footprint of the event into four clear areas:
- Event space
- Promotional material
Our Sustainability Specialist analyses the results and consults with the event organiser on how they can reduce emissions in each area. Different approaches and suggestions, combined with switching to our sustainable suppliers can achieve up to a 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions from an event.
There is a growing consensus amongst event organisers to embed sustainability into their event programmes considering objectives such as:
- Understanding the carbon impact of events
- Highlighting longer term sustainable changes
- Supporting organisational sustainability goals and targets
- Delivering carbon neutral events
Post event, Carbon Consultancy re-calculates the footprint of the event, to encompass the sustainable changes which have been implemented, to produce a closing report with the total CO2 tonnage of the event.
Event organisers can clearly evidence the positive changes they have been able to make, influencing behaviours, creating change, and ultimately reducing the carbon impact of the event.
Finally, developed in partnership with Carbon Footprint Ltd, we offer an offset portfolio of Verified Carbon Standard approved projects in the UK and overseas to balance out the remaining carbon emissions and deliver a net zero carbon event. Some of these projects include tree planting in the UK, protecting the Amazon, solar power installation in Vietnam and renewable windfarms in India.
How can event organisers start this process?
Carbon Consultancy can be onboarded at any point during the event planning process however, to achieve maximum impact organisers would need to consult with us before they have chosen a destination, as there is more scope to intervene and change behaviours.
We recently collaborated with The Association of Colleges for its annual conference and exhibition to help them calculate the carbon footprint of the event and consider ways to reduce its long-term impact offset the emissions to make it a carbon neutral event.
As the flagship event in its portfolio the annual conference was the ideal platform to create awareness and influence sustainable behaviours to key stakeholders in the education sector. Spread across two days more than 1,000 delegates attended the conference, which culminated in a dinner for 500 guests.
We collaborated with Katie Hartigan, Events Manager, to understand the event in full and create the best method of collecting the relevant data from delegates, speakers and suppliers. Our weblink was sent to all attendees to accurately measure the carbon impact of their travel, hospitality, and catering. The event organiser also shared additional details including food sources, wastage, and event space usage.
Our carbon calculator measured the total carbon footprint of the event. In addition to this our detailed report provided analysis and recommendations on each element of the carbon footprint identifying opportunities to reduce emissions and deliver carbon reductions of up to 20 percent.
The response and feedback we have received has been really positive from attendees with several organisations interested in learning more about measuring their own events carbon footprint. Strategically measuring, reducing, and offsetting events fits with the Association of Colleges race to zero by 2050.
Katie Hartigan, Events Manager, Association of Colleges said: “Every organisation and industry needs to be doing more when it comes to sustainability and the events industry is no exception. We are very excited to have teamed up with Conference Care to monitor and manage the environmental impact from our event and to offset our carbon footprint. It is an excellent step in the right direction for sustainable events and the process could not have been easier. We look forward to continuing this work and using the information to reduce our footprint year on year.”
To find out more about Conference Care’s Carbon Consultancy visit - www.zerocarbonevent.com