Key Point 6: Environmental measurement

Key Message

What should you consider

  • Waste and recycling
  • Water
  • Energy 
  • Biodiversity
  • Transport 
  • Initiatives that you have in place to reduce negative environmental impacts

Fiona Pelham talks about these areas in more detail, and explains some of the categories from the Global Reporting Initiative Event Organizers Sector Supplement. You can read a transcript of this video below. 

When you are reporting on your environmental impacts, the topics you may choose could include waste, water, energy, biodiversity. The environmental topic is quite commonly reported on but it’s important to also report on economic and social.

I’m going to tell you about two of the GRI EOSS indicators, which are related to the environmental area of reporting. These indicators are both related to transport.

Within the event industry, everyone has to travel to the events, so transport is a regular thing that you can report on which could be compared with other events around the world. The two GRI EOSS indicators are, firstly, modes of transport taken by attendees, as a percentage of total transport, and initiatives to encourage sustainable transport options. This means, of a percentage of everyone that came to your event, what types of transport did they take? Did 50% use the train? Did 100% drive in the car?

The indicator also asks for the number of initiatives you created to encourage people to use sustainable transport options. For example, you may have created an event ticket which includes the price of public transport, or you may have sent information to your attendees which include a map of walking directions.

The second performance indicator is significant environmental and socio-economic impacts of transporting attendees to and from the event, and initiatives taken to address the impacts.

This indicator refers to the fact when you have an event, it may be a one-off event in an unusual location, so you may have many people travelling to that event along routes which are not normally used by that many people.

What are the impacts of that behaviour? Will there be lots of people walking across footpaths? Will there be damage to biodiversity? Will there be lots of people using one road which will be inconvenient for the people that live on that road?

Definitions

Direct Energy

Energy which is generated and consumed on-site, rather than being purchased from the main grid supply. This could include temporary power such as generators, or energy produced on-site through renewable power such as wind turbines. 

Indirect Energy

Energy which is purchased and imported from the main grid supply (possibly purchased by a venue rather than the organizer). This can include renewable energy tariffs.

Protected Area 

In relation to biodiversity, a protected area is a specific and defined location which is regulated in line with conservation aims. 

Area of High Biodiversity

These areas may not have legal protection but are recognised (often by either governmental and non-governmental bodies) as being a conservation priority.

Presentation

This presentation provides more information about environmental measurement. You can read a summary of the presentation below.

Transport

There are a few areas that you can report on in relation to transport. Firstly, you can report on the ways that delegates travelled to your event – so what modes of transport were used, and how far did they travel? You can ask questions during the registration or ticket buying process, or gather information at the event. Sometimes, you may not have control over how much information that you can get, but you can produce an estimate and share your methodology in the report.

Consider the environmental and the socio-economic impacts of attendee travel – for example, is there an effect on the local community in the form of pollution or noise? You can also report on any initiatives that you have taken to reduce these impacts that relate to attendee travel, for example London 2012 partnered with others to offset predicted travel emissions from attendees, and provided free public transport passes to anybody with a ticket.

You can also consider the transport associated with the travel of materials, speakers, catering etc. relating to the production of the event and the related emissions and mileage.

Procurement and materials

From an environmental perspective, what initiatives have you taken to ensure that your products and services are as environmentally responsible as possible, for example, how many products have used recycled input materials? What are your sourcing policies that relate to environmental good practice, for example a preference for organic produce?

You may also may wish to consider how you engage with your supply chain around environmental (and other) factors, for example, do you request environmentally responsible sourcing and give preference to suppliers that can provide this?

As well as considering the input materials, you can also think about what will happen at the end of a product’s life? Can it be reused at the end of the event, recycled or composted? If the product itself is environmentally responsible but has a lot of packaging, you may want to report on this and indicate the steps that you are taking to reduce this packaging.

Biodiversity and water

In relation to biodiversity and water, you can report on any initiatives that you have taken to create a positive impact on water and biodiversity, or to reduce potential (or actual) negative impacts. For example, an event venue could create a wildflower area or treat water nearby to improve its quality. If your event is in or near an area of high biodiversity or a protected area, then you can also report on steps that have been taken to reduce any risks to this biodiversity.

For water, you can report on your water use, the source of water and how it is discharged. For example, with events there is often a need to create a temporary water source, so you can report on where you have obtained the water from, any water which is reused, and what happens to the water after it is used. You should consider any potential impacts of water on biodiversity, for example if water is likely to contain chemicals could it have an impact on a nearby water source?

Energy

This is likely to be predominantly in the hands of the venue that you use, but you can ask them questions to include in your sustainability report. You can report on two different types of energy; firstly, the energy generated on site – for example any renewable energy directly generated, or energy from temporary generators. The other type of energy is any that is purchased from external suppliers, for example mains electricity and gas.

For both categories, you can report on the energy that has been used for your event, and the amount of energy that was generated for your event. You can also include any initiatives that you have taken to reduce energy consumption at your event, and to increase the amount of renewable energy that is used.

Waste and recycling

This is an area in which organisations may already be collecting data, so you may wish to start by reporting on this if you do already have information relating to your waste streams. You can report by the method of disposal (how much was composted, how much went to landfill, how much was recycled?) and by any reuse of materials. You can also report on how you have reduced your waste, reduced any input materials, and engaged with attendees so that they can also support your waste reduction objectives.

You can also report any initiatives that you have taken in relation to waste, for example have you donated compost to a local school or allotment? Have you created anything innovative with waste which would otherwise have gone to landfill? Have you partnered with any organisations to distribute unused food to vulnerable groups?

Resources

Sustainability Report

This report, from the 2010 Winter Games, covers the sustainability performance, including a number of environmental highlights. 

Vancouver 2010 Sustainability Report

Assignment

Choose the categories that you will be reporting on.

To produce a Level C GRI report you should report on 10 categories, or "indicators":

Social indicators

HR: Human Resources

LA: Labour

PR: Product Responsibility

Economic indicators:

EC: Economic

Environmental indicators:

EN: Environmental

Event Organizers Sector Supplement indicators:

EO: Event Organizers

Within your 10 indicators you should include at least one social (HR, LA, PR, SO) one economic (EC) and one environmental (EN) indicator. You should also include a minimum of 7 indicators that are not from the event sector supplement (i.e. that do not start with EO). 

Areas you could consider within environmental measurements are:

  • The total amount of different waste types that you produced, and initiatives to manage waste (EN22)
  • Impacts on areas which are protected or have a high level of biodiversity (EN12)
  • Total water used and initiatives to conserve water (EN8)
  • Modes of travel used by attendees and participants for your event and initiatives to promote sustainable travel (EO2)
  • Actual and potential negative impacts caused by attendee and participant travel, and efforts to reduce these (EO3)
  • Energy used from suppliers (EN4) 
Katy Carlisle