Use Local, Save Global: The Road to More Sustainable Events

Earth Day 2022

After the massive 6.4% drop* in global carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, partly caused by the drastic fallback in vehicle transportation and travel due to the pandemic, the rebound that scientists have predicted early last year has happened. In 2021 global CO2 emissions reached a staggering 36.3 billion tonnes*, the largest ever rise in history in absolute terms of 2 billion tonnes. Having more than offset the pandemic-related decline, these numbers are cause for great concern, and the event industry must do its part and continue to increase its efforts to create more sustainable events. 

Following the global pandemic, the event industry has returned much stronger than predicted, contributing to the increase in domestic and international travel, logistics, and transportation. However practical for environmental purposes, virtual events are not sustainable in the long run, and live and hybrid events – the blend of in-person gatherings and virtual audiences – have been increasingly popular because, being humans, we do crave in-person interactions and contact with our peers.

Less transportation, less impact on the environment

For us, event professionals it is not surprising that, according to various studies, it is transportation that makes up close to 90% of CO2 emissions of an event*. One way to reduce the environmental impact of events is to plan for sustainable logistics solutions that consume less fuel and energy, create less waste. Many transportation suppliers offer special, green solutions that aim to help event production companies and organizers cut back on their carbon footprint, aiming to reduce travel and freight times, etc.

The current global energy crisis adds to the urgency of identifying more economical and sustainable ways to carry out events. With the price of gasoline and diesel skyrocketing around the world, companies not only have to offset the environmental impact of transporting equipment – be it touring, construction, or AV gear – but also have to factor in the significantly higher fuel costs and potential supply shortages.

At AV Alliance we tackle both issues by helping our partners and clients curb their carbon dioxide emissions and thus allowing them to save significantly on transportation costs. For us it is not only the use of more environmentally conscious transportation methods that make a difference, we are also in the favorable position to build on the strength of the AV Alliance. The members of our close-knit global network regularly collaborate in sourcing cutting edge audio visual equipment among each other; our 350,000 square meters of combined warehouse space spreads over 100 locations worldwide. This allows our members to support each other with the latest, state-of-the-art gear and event technology available on a local level, saving our clients not just significant cost in transportation and often customs, but also the complexity and environmental impact of long-haul equipment shipping.

satis&fy logistics, by Anna Imm Photography

Logistics at satis&fy, credit: Anna Imm Photography ©

More sustainable solutions

Along with our technology partners, our AV Alliance members are all doing their part individually in reducing their carbon footprints by implementing environmentally friendly event solutions, processes, and technology that point towards a sustainable future.

Many of our member companies have strict policies dedicated to the recycling of materials, sourcing sustainable products, and optimizing energy consumption. There are various changes that a production company or client can adopt in order to make their event more climate-friendly, especially if it hosts a live, international audience:

1. Recycle equipment, materials, and resources wherever you can

2. Find sustainable ways to save on waste – materials, food, etc. – during your event

3. Whenever possible, book accommodation close to or at your venue

4. Save on paper and make your event invitations, brochures, leaflets digital

5. Optimize energy consumption, or opt for clean, renewable energy sources to power your event

6. Encourage your attendees through incentives to choose environmentally friendly transport methods to your venue

7. Plan your event with eco-friendly logistics solutions in mind, such as reduced freight times, etc.

8. Source your equipment locally to cut back on your event’s carbon footprint

9. Work with “smart venues” that are committed to sustainable practices

10. Collaborate with trusted event suppliers who offer environmentally friendly solutions and services 

Bonus tip: Find out how you can offset your event’s carbon emission with the help of a carbon footprint calculator!

Greener hybrid events

Virtual events are undeniably the greenest of them all, however they are not sustainable on the long run for entirely different reasons. While, for instance, there is no traveling – international or otherwise – or food waste, and significantly less transportation is involved, the need to meet in person is a fundamentally human desire and, in many cases, an absolute must when it comes to doing business.

Hybrid events not only grant your audience the choice to attend in person or join in remotely, but they also help the industry with their mission to move towards a more sustainable future. As long as we still face the uncertainty of potential travel bans and size limitations to in-person gatherings around the world, the possibility to join hybrid meetings remotely will provide a good alternative for those who are discouraged from international travel, business-related or otherwise, while lower in-person attendee numbers will result in less consumption, less transit, less logistics, and less waste.

Hybrid events also support the digitization of materials, another important “green” step towards creating less waste and saving paper. By providing the same digital documentation, brochures, white papers, leaflets, or even books to both your in-person and virtual audiences, the cost and environmental impact of printed materials can be reduced significantly, while creating a cohesive event experience for all your participants. Online resources can work very well with the use of virtual platforms, offering e-libraries for attendees to browse. The increased use of digital technologies during live and hybrid events, such as digital signage and LED screens, also creates a less paper-focused way to reach your audience through dynamic branding and communication.

We encourage you to take advantage of our global network by engaging our AV Alliance members for your next hybrid or live event, and contribute to the reduction of your carbon footprint!

Use local, save global.