“Pandemic projects” come in all shapes and sizes. Some people start a garden, others learn to make sourdough. Myself and my fellow sustainable event nerds at MeetGreen? We built a Digital Event Carbon Calculator!
As people who specialize in sustainability for events, we’ve been asked many questions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most common among them has been: “What is the carbon impact of my online event?” Followed closely by: “How does that compare to an in-person experience?“
During the pandemic we have dedicated ourselves to extensively researching this topic and have helped to provide answers for many events.
Along the way we’ve learned a lot, including:
Yes, digital events typically have a dramatically smaller carbon footprint than in-person event formats. The carbon savings vary event-to-event, and for international business and association events often exceeds 95%. This is largely due to the ability of participants to attend from home, reducing their emissions from travel, particularly flights.
No, digital events are not zero-impact. It still takes energy to produce and consume online content. And the footprint of streaming services is increasing. Attendee choices about which devices and networks are used have a large bearing on the emissions footprint of digital events, as do planner decisions related to shipped gifts, production quality and pre-recorded content.
Each event format–digital and in-person–has benefits and short-comings. Our intention with the Digital Event Carbon Calculator is to improve access to basic data about the climate impact of digital events so that anyone–planner, participant and policy-maker–can better evaluate which event format enables the outcomes they want to achieve through their events, from the perspective of people and planet.
We hope you’ll try the tool out, and let us know how you find it!
(MeetGreen dives deeper into their learnings about digital events in their latest White Paper: How We Meet Matters – Digital Event Carbon Accounting – check it out!)