We had a very useful meeting with members of the Greening Events Steering Committee last week. It has been the first time we have been able to get the group together so a large part of the meeting was updating on progress to date. The project has two main strands 1. A prototype systemic impact analysis methodology to assess the sustainability impacts of events 2. Use of technologies to help minimise the negative impacts.
There were some interesting discussions about the nature and value of events (both physical and virtual). Paul Shabajee (project analyst) has noted a seeming lack of research on academic events as a subject in its own right – if anyone is aware of any research literature in this area please let us know.
Phil Cross (technical researcher) gave a demonstration of the software tools being used on the project. The tools are currently being tested with JISC Digital Media workshop delegates and will be iteratively developed based on feedback from these delegates.
The committee provided really useful feedback on possible future directions for the project and dissemination channels.
The Sustainable Events Summit 2010 was held in London on Monday (19 April 2010). It’s an industry event “for industry professionals to discuss and debate the current state of play in sustainable events”. Paul attended and has written up notes of the meeting.
A few high level points from those notes:
- There is a lot of activity around sustainable events, exemplified by the development over the last few years of BS8901 (BS standard for Sustainability Management Systems for Events) and its movement towards becoming an ISO standard ISO 20121 (Sustainability in Event Management) and the growing business ecosystem around providing sustainable events services
- Large events and associated organisations who are talking sustainability seriously like the 2012 London Olympics are driving a lot of innovation in practice and thinking across and down their supply chains. Public sector (and other Corporate) procurement processes and requirements may increasingly play a part in moving the industry forward in the direction of sustainable practices.
- The use of video conferencing and other virtual presence technologies in the context of larger events is still relatively poorly supported and understood. The point was made by Paul Dickinson of the Carbon Disclosure Project that we have only really just started to use and develop even long standing technologies like video conferencing and have a lot to learn about how we can use it effectively. [The event itself was streamed live (for free) for the first time, although there was no Wi-Fi for delegates.]
- While there is a good deal of interest in making events more sustainable amongst some events organisation companies, venues, etc. from the events industry. However in general customers, i.e. those commissioning the events, are not asking for sustainability as a key selection criteria – a point that correlates with our conversations with other venue managers.
- It was clear throughout the event that more sustainable practices were in general associated with financial cost savings, be it less waste to dispose of, less material to purchase or lower energy bills.
- While climate change and measuring carbon footprints were key issues the social and economic sides of sustainable development were also well represented.
Overall – A good event, especially for getting an overview of the state-of-the-art and thinking in the UK (it was a UK centric event) and as a congregation place for people with interests in sustainability issues and events from (primarily) the events industry.
Overarching thoughts? Sustainability issues are increasingly being taken seriously in the context of events but still by a relatively small number of people and organisations, are we on a cusp of a dramatic upturn in interest and development of good practice? I’d like to think so.
I demoed where we’ve got to so far with developing the Greening Events toolkit during the lunchbreak of the JISC Digital Media Copyright and Digital Media course today.
The software was not yet at a stage to be rolled out before the event, so I briefly demonstrated what we’ve produced so far and described what else we are intending to add. This included showing the CREW interface styled for JISC Digital Media with the ability to show directions using Google maps between various start points, such as Bristol Temple Meads, and the course location. Also showed the existing version of Mobile Campus Assistant, including the up-to-date bus information.
The 12 course participants then filled out a short questionnaire which gave us useful information on their reaction to the toolkit, as well as some stats such as how many actually use smart phones and social media. Overall, the feedback was that the sort of information shown would likely have an effect on how they chose to travel to the event, if they had had access beforehand. The majority also said that they didn’t normally think very much about sustainability issues in relation to travelling to events but would consider this more if the Greening Events information was available to them. Some of the course participants pointed out that information concerning small details such as the location of bus stops and clear route information was likely to have a significant effect on whether they chose to walk or get a bus rather than simply taking a taxi from the station.
All in all a promising start!
We attended the JISC Conference 2010, held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, nr. Parliament Square in London, this week (April 12 & 13th). Two months into the Greening Events project it gave us an ideal opportunity to use it as a pre-case-study; to observe how a large scale event (750 attendees physically attending and virtual attendees too) in a large venue runs in practice, to talk to organisers, delegates, venue staff and exhibitors, observe the integral use of live video streaming and twitter in the conference.
The questions and factors we were looking at included; direct impacts of the event, such as how attendees travelled to the event, whether they stayed overnight and/or spent money in the local area, what aspects of attending the event were valuable to attendees and exhibitors, whether they had used attending the event as an opportunity to do other things, such as organise other meetings, attend other events, etc., how ICT might be used to help reduce the impacts of attending or add value to attending, e.g. by providing support for sharing of transport or enabling more effective networking opportunities and their thoughts about differences between virtual and face to face attendance. People were very interested in the topics and very happy to talk about the issues, experiences and ideas.
Grace Porter (JISC’s Events Coordinator) and Malcolm Bachelor (JISC’s Evidence & Evaluation Manager) have been fantastically supportive and helpful, in making sure the event was as useful as possible to our project, including agreeing to linking to a Greening Events questionnaire from the main conference evaluation questionnaire. The QEII Conference Centre have also been very helpful; the event’s venue manager took time out of what (as you can imagine) was a very busy time during the event to be interviewed.
As a pre-case study the event has already been very useful in helping to identify factors and issues that we hadn’t come across previously, and as we go on to review the results we it will certainly help shape our thinking and define the foci and boundaries of our research as we move forward.
Below is a list of guides and case studies linked to running Green Events. We will add to the list as we go along but if you know of any other useful guides or reports please let us know or add details through the comment facility.
A fuller description of the Greening Events Project as well as a link to the full text of the project plan is available from the JISC Website http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/greeningict/greeningevents.aspx
If you have any queries or comments please contact Debra Hiom
The Greening Events project runs throughout 2010, based at the I.L.R.T, University of Bristol. It is funded by the JISC Greening ICT Programme and is a small scale exploration study examining the merits of technology support for both the physical and virtual event – in the interests of reducing environmental impact. For more information please see the About page. For more information about the staff involved in the project please see the People page.
What is the Goal of the Greening Events Project?
To go some way to answering “To what extent can the availability of knowledge tools help reduce the carbon footprint of an event?”