Events play an important role in our society. They can leave a lasting impression as they connect, stimulate, and inspire people in such an effective way. No matter what shape or size, type or category, an event has the power to create a greater sense of purpose for different audiences. An event can work as a platform to showcase and educate on important issues effecting the world today and one big issue that we’re seeing get an important limelight is sustainability.

On the sports field we are seeing the likes of Game Zero in Football, England Golf Net Zero tournaments and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics committing and taking action on sustainability. Or in the music industry, Coldplay shared their ambition to make their tours as low-carbon as possible. And even COP27 is committed to being a Carbon Neutral conference this year. Whatever event is taking place, it seems that sustainability is high on the agenda.

And it’s not just about plastic straws either. Carbon reduction is the focal point of how an event can minimise its impact as more people are unifying their efforts towards the mission to reach Net Zero. However there seems to be a real lack of standardisation as to how events can achieve a cohesive sustainability strategy. There is a wild west of standards where everyone is doing something different with their events which makes it hard to measure, benchmark and improve upon. This limits the impact events can make as many are left confused and intimidated by the prospect of not doing things properly.

That’s why we created a new playbook. Our Natural Carbon Solutions certification scheme is the first of its kind and has built on the existing standards that weren’t specifically designed for events so that there is a clear and robust way to reach Net Zero for the industry. It doesn’t need to be complicated for an event to achieve a positive environmental impact, and so here we outline the 5 steps an event can take to reach Net Zero:

1. Estimate and Measure

If it is a one-off event, you can start with a screening calculation prior to the event. This means that you can take financial or proxy data to establish an appropriate baseline. This includes defining an event control boundary, so you know exactly what you are going to measure on the day of the event. If it is a reoccurring event, a similar process will take place, but previous events will be used for the screening calculations, and you can also look at measuring and reducing a whole host of events throughout the year. You need to make sure you are measuring the right carbon factors due to the variations of different events.  

2. Reduce and Commit

There will be important decisions that can be made before the event takes place. Looking at how you would typically run an event and where carbon reductions can be made allows you to commit to an ambitious sustainable event. Selecting local suppliers, encouraging better modes of transport for guests, and considering alternative energy sources are just some of the ways an event can start to reduce their emissions. It is at this point of understanding that you can set targets for your event to reach Net Zero and start publicly sharing your commitments.

3. Launch and Analyse

It’s showtime. As the event takes place you have the opportunity to capture all of the data and verify that the carbon reductions first outlined have taken place. It will be a time to run surveys for guests and monitor the supplier’s contribution to your events carbon footprint. Analysing as much data as specified in your baseline will be the key priority of the verifiers at this stage.

4. Finalise and Verify

Once the event has taken place there will be a final data assessment needed to complete your accurate measurements and reduction efforts. For each activity, the verifiers can review the data and explicitly approve where carbon reductions have been made and you’ll be able to understand in detail how your reduction efforts have been achieved.

5. Offset and Show Off 

Then finally once you have reduced everything you set out to reduce, you’ll be able to purchase credible offsets for the remaining unavoidable emissions so that your event can achieve Net Zero. Once these purchases have been made you can reliably showcase what you have accomplished. As you recognise the importance of your achievements, you can proudly show off the steps you’ve implemented to reducing your events environmental impact.

Best-in Class Certification

To ensure this whole process has adhered to clear industry standards and you have followed a robust process you can achieve certification throughout each step. With the Natural Carbon Solutions certification scheme, you can certify these steps to verify that you are taking action and are on the right pathway to Net Zero. For example, once you have measured, making a commitment to reach Net Zero pre-event is a key milestone in itself and comes with a Net Zero Committed certificate. Then to prove your efforts have been genuine, you can achieve a Net Zero Carbon label post event once the process has been verified. With third-party verification, you can confidently promote your event’s credentials in detail at each important step. This encourages stakeholders to engage more positively with the event as you demonstrate how you are achieving a best-in class Net Zero event.