Getting started: How to define your event carbon measurement objectives


Starting your event carbon measurement journey? Read on to find out how to define your measurement parameters.

Measurement. It’s something that’s already embedded into many areas of business operations, and is a crucial proof point to demonstrate how businesses are faring against key operational KPIs.

From figures on revenue and profit to market penetration, measurement markers (that’s the numbers to you and me) help tell the story of business’s continued evolution.

Data on carbon emissions is no exception. And as brands, event agencies and venues strive to meet their ESG goals, no sustainability picture would be complete without demonstrating the environmental impact of our events.

So, where to start and what to measure?

Tap into existing sustainability policies

A great place to start when defining your measurement objectives is to look at existing sustainability policies and/or net-zero strategies. Businesses of all sizes will often already have done the hard work of digesting their sustainability ambitions into a series of concrete targets that align with broader corporate policies.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, use the above as a jumping off point for your measurement objectives. If a transition to renewable energy is a key focus for your business, then this can be translated into a focus on measuring and minimising energy output during live events, utilising alternative energy sources wherever possible.

Understand what you can control and what you can influence

Event carbon measurement data runs across the full set of emissions Scopes. Scope 1 emissions are those you have direct responsibility over (e.g. fuel you burn directly such as diesel in company cars), while Scope 2 emissions are where you have some control by indirect responsibility (e.g. energy your company purchases, such as electricity). Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions that arise as a consequence of activities that take place within your value chain (which is centred around your suppliers). The latter is often where the highest amount of emissions lay, including for events. And while Scopes 1 and 2 are within your control, it’s likely you can only influence your Scope 3 emissions.

The good news is that there are a number of ways to do this: from including suppliers in event kick-off meetings and outlining the part they can play in gathering emissions data to providing informal training/workshops to share data-gathering best practice.

And with increased engagement from your value chain, an increase in the volume and quality of Scope 3 data should naturally follow.

Keep ambitions big, but understand that your initial steps may be small

While it can be tempting to want to measure everything within the key measurement areas ranging from food & drink to production materials in detail and with complete accuracy, it’s ok to acknowledge that you may not have the infrastructure (people, time etc) in place to do so right away. Instead why not shift focus onto gathering data on your biggest areas of environmental impact within the key measurement areas? So, as an example, if you’re looking at production materials, and are using large amounts of newly purchased carpet to decorate a venue space, this will have a larger impact on your event carbon footprint, than say, cable ties used to keep event banners and more in place.

Understand how you will collect data and clearly communicate that

The mechanics of data gathering and input are almost as valuable as the final data insights themselves. Putting a solid system in place, that can be replicated event after event, is crucial so that measurement doesn’t feel like an insurmountable task that no one in the business wants to tackle.

If you don’t have a Sustainability Lead in place, why not nominate a person/s within the business who can take overall responsibility for crunching the necessary numbers? They can use an Excel spreadsheet or similar to start collecting data. And while not ideal, estimations can be used, in areas where complete figures aren’t available, and can still offer you a gauge of where you event sits in relation to a key carbon measurement area.

Time for data-gathering should also ideally be factored into your overall event project plan.

Finally, don’t forget to use internal comms to shout out about your event carbon measurement journey, and get buy-in from teams at all levels of your business.

TRACE by isla

TRACE by isla is the definitive carbon measurement tool for sustainable events and can help your business measure, manage and minimise carbon at live, hybrid and digital events.
Book a free demo with one of our platform experts, and start your event carbon measurement journey today.

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