In the last weeks we have explored a lot of options to make meetings and events more sustainable. Every step that you take towards green meetings, is a step in the right direction. But in the end you might want to know what the result of all your efforts looks like: numbers tell the tale. Therefore you will have to measure; even more if you are aiming for the Green Meetings Award. But how can we measure sustainability of an event? In this final post on green meetings I collected some suggestions on how to start with measurement.
Establish a baseline
Before you start changing anything, you need a baseline to compare your future results against. Do you want to save energy and water? Would you like to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by transportation? The baseline serves as a starting point to set goals for future meetings and tells you whether you are making progress and how effective your actions are. Thus, check the green performance of your recent meetings before you get start them.
As I explained in my previous posts, transportation and travel cause CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming. You can reduce these emissions by minimizing the the total travel and transportation distances. Monitor the travel kilometers for your delegates and transportation of your suppliers. You can use the Carbon Footprint Calculator for this. If you are planning to offset your CO2 emissions you can include the compensated kilometers in your measurements.
Check the food
In my blogpost about green catering I discussed the main aspects of green food. Besides limiting the transportation issue by working with local foods, you can measure the percentage of seasonal products used. How many of the purchased products were labelled Fair Trade, biological or organic? All these numbers indicate how green your catering is.
The weight of waste
Of course you can simply measure the total amount of waste your meeting produced per delegate. But there are more things to measure. What about the packaging material you purchased together with the supplies? How many items were reusable or recyclable? Including these factors in your measurement will give you more particular insights into your waste management.
Show no show
It is a frustrating issue but you will also have to attend to the no show percentage of your meeting. No show is an important indication for the amount of wasted resources.
The ISO 14001 Standard
Nobody bars you from establishing you own green parameters. However, using existing, internationally acknowledged standards makes your measurements more transparent and trustworhty. One example is the ISO 14001 standard which was used to achieve the sustainability goals of the Olympics 2012 in London. One of their targets was reducing water consumption by 40% and carbon by 50%. They duly delivered at 58% and 60% respectively. This isn’t just great news for the environment but also reduced costs massively. On the other hand, the measurements indicate where sustainability can be improved. For London they showed that the target for use of renewable energy was missed by 9 percent.
In my opinion, measuring is a crucial part of green meetings. What do you think. Do you have any experiences with green measurments? Please share them with me.