Green Events: Technological Perspective
Back then in 2015, we were planning an APPOEMN (Association of Professional Party Organizers and Event Managers of Nigeria) seminar/workshop. I had my ideas because I wanted it to be themed “It is time for Green Events”. It never came to be but I had already written this paper. I and now sharing for reading and comments
Green event and convention planning is now an established trend within the global tourism and convention industry. Several cities in the United States and Europe now sport green convention centers designed using green building principles and practices.
Several high visibility events including the Olympic Games in Italy, Sydney, Utah, and Greece; the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, and the 2004 Democratic and Republican National Conventions have implemented green practices with varied success. A more recent example is that of Live Earth, a series of worldwide concerts held on July 7, 2007, that initiated a three-year campaign to combat climate change. Such efforts aim to conserve resources, protect air and water quality, habitat and human health, and showcase sustainability practices and concerns.
Parts of the tourism and convention industry now promote green meetings, conferences, and convention planning as demand for sustainability measures increases. Industry associations have produced standards and guides for green meetings. Government agencies and non-profit organizations also promote these practices with research, recommendations, grants and technical support. Some private consultants in the meeting planning industry specialize in mounting green events, and industry groups and governments now sponsor awards to recognize achievements.
Green conventions, meetings, conferencing and events are part of an international movement to achieve a sustainable world economy and livable planet.
What are Green Events?
According to Wikipedia, “Green conventions or green meetings are conventions which are conducted in ways which minimize the environmental burdens imposed by such activities. Green event planners apply environmentally preferred practices to waste management, resource and energy use, travel and local transportation, facilities selection, siting and construction, food provision and disposal, hotels and accommodations, and management and purchasing decisions. The practice is known as "event greening" or "sustainable event management.”
Another definition from Tufts University Office of Sustainability is “A green event is an event that is executed in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. This involves taking into account and striving to reduce water and energy usage, waste and greenhouse gas production and limit negative impacts on biodiversity”
Broad guidelines for a greener event are that it should be organized electronically, minimise carbon emissions for traveling delegates and speakers, save energy, practise recycling, and adopt environmentally-thoughtful measures wherever practical and possible.
Role of Technology
Technology plays a major role in making an event green. Here are some technological consideration you may use to make your event green
Video conferencing is technology which enables people in different locations to interact through video and audio. The emergence of this technology has made it possible for meetings to be organized with people at different geographical locations such that you have the same look and feel of having everybody in one meeting room. Organizing such a meeting is a great contribution towards achieving green initiative.
Like video conferencing teleconferencing also facilitates meeting with people in different location through the use of audio communication.
Social / Online Media/Email
This is the latest trend in communication, marketing, publicity and event invitation. A lot of events are published in www.facebook.com, www.twitter.com, www.linkedin.com, www.eventome.com, www.youtube.com, etc. for free. More elaborate publicity or vantage positioning is made possible through a paid service. Therefore the event manager has this as an option to consider while evaluating greening option for publicity, marketing or guest invitation. Other cloud based communication media such as Skype, WhatsApp, Yahoo messenger, 2go, Telegram, etc. are also assisting in organizing virtual meetings with all kinds of features for chatting, audio, video and document exchange.
This is one of the traditional means of publicity. It is also useful for marketing and guest invitation. There is a multiplicity of channels and programming to choose from while considering preferences. Apart from the regular insertion as news items, there are so many independent programs such as Goge Africa, Bisi Olatilo Show, etc. for the event manager’s selection.
This channel of publicity is much older than the Television and it is also heavily utilized despite the short coming of not being visible. It can be used to give an event a lot of publicity before the D-day, provide event marketing and invite guests to attend.
Telephones and SMS
Contacting and selling the event via telephones and bulk messaging (SMS) is quite fashionable these days. It is also a great avenue for reaching out to intending guests and event marketing. The message to be sent out should be properly composed, straight forward and direct to the point such as to easily communicate the desired information.
Event Website for Online Registration
These types of website allow the event manager to subscribe and use their platform for event registration. It usually helps the event manager to reduce the stress and load of paper work on the D-day for both guests and the planner. These websites are cloud based and available on subscription.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
It is the wireless non-contact use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects. The use of this technology enables the guest to register online and make all the required features selection. When completed, a tag is generated and sent to the guest. The tags contain electronically stored information. This tag will be used by the guest for fast track registration at the event venue, access to event facilities and general movement during the event. This reduces a lot of paper work and ink utilization.
This is a technology that allows an electronic device to exchange data or connect to the internet wirelessly. Many event managers and hotels these days provide Wi-Fi connectivity for guests within the event arena. It is actually a nice to have. Just like the internet, this technology reduces vehicular movement and paper consumption.
The internet has become second to none as the platform for basically anything. The event management industry is not left out. So the event manager must ensure that internet facilities are abound for the use of internet savvy guests. The manager must also creatively find a way to integrate the functionality of the internet into the organisation of the event. Certainly this will reduce vehicular movement and carbon emission.
A webcast is a media presentation distributed over the Internet using streaming media technology to distribute a single content source to many simultaneous listeners/viewers. Therefore, with the right technology, your event will be broadcast on the internet to reach people who cannot attend physically.
A podcast is the placement of an event content either in audio, video, picture or another format in an online location for download by people who were not able to attend the event physically. Event managers and owners can use this medium to promote green events by reaching out to guests who could not make it or for event marketing purposes.
The word is derived from the combination of the words ‘web’ and ‘seminar’. It is the presentation of an event such as lectures, workshops, training through the web. It is a technology that allows two-way communication between the presenter and the attendees using audio, video or chat. This technology totally moves an event to online platform thus promoting total greening.
Live Streaming is the webcast of an event in online, real-time as it is happening. It refers to content delivered live over the Internet, requires a camera for the media, an encoder to digitize the content, a media publisher, and a content delivery network to distribute and deliver the content. It helps to reduce the number of people physically attending an event.
Key Characteristics that defines Green Events
There are some characteristics that help us to define Green events. It could be in relation to the following:
- Electronically Organised: These could be conference calls, video conferencing, Webinars, Online event streaming, etc. The common thing about these events is that the events reduce the number of people that come together in a physical venue. This reduces food consumption and waste generation, environmental pollution due to transport reduction and energy consumption. Also sending invitations via email, text messaging or phone call rather than paper medium is another measure to green your event.
- Reduction in Environmental pollution: Managing group transportation to reduce carbon emission, use of biodegradable materials, reduction in cooking for an event, environmental friendliness of event material such as using live plants instead of artificial plastic ones, using water dispensers as against plastic bottle water, etc. are all steps that help to green an event.
- Promotion of recycling: Providing for waste management and recycling, use of facilities that support recycling, partnering with waste management boards to promote recycling, avoiding plastics, are all necessary procedures an event manager can put in place to promote green events.
- Energy Saving: Using energy savings bulbs, monitoring electricity consumption and gas usage help towards organizing a green event.
- Water Conservation: Avoid unnecessary running of water during baths, tooth brushing, washing up, etc.
- Lean Consumption: Massive consumption and waste generation characterize many events. Plans and policies to put these in check are green event practices
- Thinking Locally: This means sourcing all the things you need for your event from within your community. This promotes local economy and reduces transportation, engages local resources, etc.
- Event Marketing: This aspect requires the event manager to market the event solely through electronic channels. This could be via Social media, Internet advertisement via websites, Telephone calls, Short Message System (SMS) /Text Messages, Radio, Television, mobile screens, etc. There should be no printing of handbills, invitation cards, billboards, Flex banners, etc. or the use of other environmentally unfriendly material for the event marketing. The aim is to reduce negative impact on biodiversity
- Facilities Selection: Specifically selecting facilities which practice greening is also a key feature.
Initiatives in other industries
Manufacturing: In the manufacturing sector especially in the western countries, Organisations who burn less of fuel for their machines earn some carbon credit.
Construction: In the construction industry, there is gradual shift from the use of coal tar and bitumen to bitumen emulsion. Bitumen is usually liquefied using kerosene, Naphtha or some other solvents. When the bitumen is used for road construction, these solvents dry up and evaporate into the atmosphere after road paving. In the atmosphere, they contribute to global warming and ozone layer depletion. However the bitumen emulsion is very eco-friendly because the bitumen is liquefied with a water based emulsifier and when used for road paving, only the water evaporates into the atmosphere causing no damage.
Refrigeration: In manufacture of Air conditioners, Freezers and Refrigerators, CFC gas is no longer used in compressors because it depletes the ozone layer leading to global warming. Freon, a more eco-friendly gas is currently being used.
Telecommunications: In the production of recharge cards, initially non bio-degradable materials were used. Recently in an effort to reduce the environmental impact, these cards have been made smaller, gradually giving way to paper and may be totally transiting to the electronic format.
As event managers, planners and stakeholders in the Nigerianevent industry, the way to go for us is to start applying some of the green event principles to promote greening in our events and join the global initiative towards sustainability and protecting the earth we live in
Green Event Principles
1. Reduce any negative environmental impact caused by the event.
2. Support local economy and society through your events purchases and goals.
3. Promote green actions by effectively communicating green aspects of your event.
4. Deploy technology where applicable to make your events greener.
5. Monitor the success of certain actions in concordance with the green event principles in order to determine which actions are most effective.
6. Encourage participants to continue green practices outside of your event.
7. Obtain Green Certification for our events
3. Eventome: An Event Management Handbook by Emeka Achebe-Okosieme