Carbon impact of events

Virtual events have served us well during the pandemic but what about once it’s fully over?

Before March 2020, the Corporate Events Team as LSBU had never delivered a virtual event. Fast forward to January 2022, and they had delivered over 300. That was a huge increase in their normal offering!

Off the back of the Sustainability and Climate Action Event Series, a three part, 11-day project which involved colleagues from the schools and professional services groups, a  whole range of excellent guest speakers and hundreds of participants, the team were inspired to look into the carbon impact of virtual events versus in-person events.

Joining forces with Terra Neutra – a carbon positive focused organisation set up to help businesses to reduce their carbon footprint  -- the Events Team produced a collaborative report (PDF File 1,863 KB) to explore just this by taking 10 typical LSBU event scenarios and comparing them, with some pretty clear results.

“Virtual events have an extremely lower carbon footprint than physical events when you take into account all the factors such as energy use, catering, signage, give aways etc… not to mention our attendees’ travelling. This report really highlights the impact and it’s been eye opening in terms of how we operate moving forward,” said Neil Hudson-Basing, the LSBU’s Corporate Events Manager.

“And since moving to online platforms, we’ve noticed lots of other benefits too including improved sign ups and attendance, greater accessibility for those with demanding schedules, disabilities or caring responsibilities and on the whole, they’re more straightforward to organise and deliver - they’re cheaper too!”

“We’re not saying that virtual events are a replacement for in-person activities at all – we recognise face to face interaction is essential in many cases. But there’s definitely value and a place for virtual events beyond the pandemic. As a university that is committed to protecting the planet and its people and embedding sustainability into the core of the LSBU Group, we hope colleagues, and event professionals generally, will take this on board when planning an event”.

Check out the report (PDF File 1,863 KB) for yourself.