July 6, 2011

Green Event Guidelines for Organising Face-to-Face Events in the Academic Sector

Filed under: General — dhiom @ 12:06 pm

One of the outputs of the first phase of the Greening Events project was a synthesis of existing guidelines and checklists to help organisations reduce the sustainability impacts of their face-to-face events. Typically these guidelines have been produced to support a particular organisation or event but there are some generic principles and ideas which will be of use to anyone planning an event.  The  Green Event Guidelines document should ideally be read with the Rethinking Events report which will help you to question the need and utility of events you are organising.

We will be continuing to update this document as part of Greening Events II and therefore would welcome any feedback or queries you may have.

July 5, 2011

Updated Greening Events Bibliography

Filed under: General — dhiom @ 1:25 pm

The  Annotated Bibliography for the Greening Events Project has been updated recently.  It continues to be a working document for the project  and further updates will be made available in due course. You can also find an online version at: http://www.citeulike.org/user/Greening_Events

If you know of any other useful references please get in touch through the comment facility.

June 17, 2011

Greening Events II

Filed under: General — dhiom @ 1:45 pm

We are pleased to announce that the Greening Events II project is now underway. The main aim of  Greening Events II is to build on the work of the initial exploratory project, in order to provide an exemplar in profiling the extent and sustainability impacts of HE events and travel within the University of Bristol, with a view to informing and helping other institutions undertake similar initiatives. 

There are two main strands of work proposed under the Greening Events II project:

1. An Academic Event Profiler tool to allow the University of Bristol (and subsequently other universities) to systemically profile their event and travel footprints (including financial costs, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and other sustainability impacts) in order to provide a baseline on which to measure any subsequent changes.

2. An Events Planning Toolkit to help event organisers think through what type of event (if at all) they need to hold (physical, virtual or hybrid) and then to provide assistance in the form of guidelines and technology tools with each stage in the process to enable to reduce the sustainability impacts of the event.

In particular the objectives are to:

  • Create a methodology and tools for analysing the extent and costs (monetary, GHG emissions and other sustainability impacts) of academic travel for the University of Bristol and beyond
  • Produce baseline figures for the University of Bristol to help create targets and monitor future reductions in academic travel
  • Work with stakeholders at the University of Bristol (and beyond) to help create a set of tools and guidance for event planning.
  • Document this work in the form of best practice reports and guidance materials so that other universities can benefit from the experience at the University of Bristol.

We are delighted to be working in collaboration with UKOLN at the University of Bath on this project. UKOLN will be providing their experience and expertise on how technologies may be used to ‘amplify events’  in order to maximise their impact.

See the project plan for more details.

Greening Events Final Report

Filed under: General — dhiom @ 1:26 pm

The final report of the Greening Events project is available as a PDF file.

Executive Summary

The Greening Events project conducted an exploratory investigation into how to reduce the negative sustainability impacts of planned academically related events (such as conferences and seminars, training, administrative and project related events) whilst gaining the maximum benefit from them. It also focused on the role that digital technologies could play in helping to reduce the negative sustainability impacts of these kinds of events. The project was divided into two related strands:

Systemic Impact Investigation

This aimed to explore a way to understanding the sustainability related impacts of academically related events from a system wide perspective – rather than only the direct impacts of an event – and so possible options for reducing their overall negative impacts. A broad range of methods were used to gain insight into:

  • the nature of the systems of which academic events are a part
  • approaches to modelling, representing and communicating the systemic impacts that events have at present
  • approaches to modelling, simulating, representing and communicating the impacts of any changes to the practices related to events

Event Tools

This aimed to explore the potential for using mobile and web-based information services to support event attendees to make more effective use of public transport, cycling and walking options.  The project developed and trialled a range of tools to support physical events and assess to what extent better information and better use of commonly available technologies (such as mobile phones) could improve the sustainability of a wide range of physical academic events. The project built on the software tools produced by previous JISC-funded work (the CREW and Mobile Campus Assistant projects) at the ILRT and trialled them with real academic events.

The underlying goal of the project was to begin to identify and map out on a wide-scale the key issues, factors, initiatives, gaps in knowledge and understanding, defined by the intersection of events, sustainability issues and event enabling ICT.   Given the wide scope and complexity of this area the project findings report (Rethinking Events) aims to give a flavour of the issues and opportunities associated with ‘greening events’ rather than a comprehensive review. An Annotated Bibliography was also produced to provide a set of starting points for those interested in taking these issues further.  Other appendices include a synthesis of Green Event Guidelines and the findings from the Greening Event User Research.

March 18, 2011

Metadata for Greening Events

Filed under: General,Tools "greening" physical events — Phil Cross @ 3:50 pm

The technical side of the project involved developing a web site that would provide events delegates with information about greener modes of transport to the event location. In addition to this, we provided carbon footprint information for their journeys as well as a car/journey sharing application.

The intention with the first two approaches was to show how relevant information could be generated and displayed in a user friendly manner through the use of mapping technologies in an automated manner. We chose to use the Google maps API with Street View and Directions to demonstrate how mapping and direction information can be generated solely with the use of location coordinates entered by an event organiser. In addition, we created a Google maps interface to allow generation of location and possible route start point coordinates (e.g. railway/bus stations), also using a mapping interface based on the Google Maps API.

We would have liked to have had a similar API using event coordinates for generating carbon footprint data for different journeys to the event location but could not find a suitable service we could use. However, it is clear that such an API could be created or licensed from other services that currently provide carbon footprint services through a web interface.

The system added additional metadata to that normally required for events (such as dates and times). These included the coordinates of the event location and coordinates for various local ‘start points’ for routes to the location. For the events used to trial the project web site, where the events were based at Bristol University, the start points were Bristol Temples Meads railway station and Bristol Bus Station. The idea was to generate routes from these start points to make it easier for delegates to choose to come to the event by train or bus, and walk or take buses to the event from the train or bus stations.

The coordinates generated routes using the Google API and we also took advantage of the use of  way-points to allow an event organiser to have more control, if desired, over the routes generated. This is useful since automatically generated directions do not always follow a sensible route, and an event organiser might wish to suggest a route that passed through more interesting areas from a tourist point of view.

Another approach taken for generating more customisable route information was to use the Google Earth KML XML schema. We experimented with using GPS enabled smart phones for generating these, by having someone walk or cycle an intended route (with the ability to take useful photos on the way, which would be assigned to markers on the route), but found it easier to simply draw the route using Google Earth itself. Once a KML file was created, it could be served up by the project web server to Google  to enable the generation of an overlay via the Google Maps API.

We therefore demonstrated in the project that basic metadata about an event, entered by an event organiser via a simple interface, could be used to generate maps, route diagrams and sets of directions for encouraging event delegates to choose more sustainable means of travelling to their destination.

The system that we used for running this web application was based on the CREW events application that uses event information encoded as RDF. We extended the schema used to describe the event to include references to route start points and way-points and to KML files. The information entered though an administration interface by an event organiser was then exported in this format to the application that generated the web pages.

This approach shows that it would be possible to produce re-usable sets of metadata about event locations, which could be created by conference and event providers and imported into conference management systems to automatically generate information of use to delegates – in particular information that would encourage sustainable travel options.


December 14, 2010

Green Events Guidelines

Filed under: General — dhiom @ 11:52 am

There are a number of existing guides and checklists to help organisations to reduce the sustainability impacts of their events, (see the annotated bibliography produced a few months back) and these have typically been produced to support a particular organisation or event. We have produced a synthesis of these guidelines part of the Greening Events project, using a qualitative research software package called Nvivo. The documents were imported into Nvivo and each guideline was assigned a node for the source of the reference e.g. Defra Guidelines and then typically they were assigned 3 or 4 headings to describe if it was a core or additional recommendation, who it applied to e.g. event organisers, event suppliers, etc and the themes it related to e.g. transport, waste reduction, etc. The resulting set of over 800 guidelines and suggestions gave a good overview of the current advice for ‘greening’ an event across a range of different sectors. Further work was then carried out to remove duplicate guidelines, to edit sentences where necessary and to pull out a subset of just over 250 guidelines, which were considered to be most applicable to an academic audience. We will be making the document available from the site shortly in the meantime if you have come across any additional guidelines or advice documents not referenced in the annotated bibliography then please let us know.

November 19, 2010

Lanyrd – a social directory for conferences

Filed under: General — dhiom @ 2:34 pm

We’ve recently been pointed to an interesting and potentially very useful tool for the Greening Events Project.

Lanyrd uses Twitter to tell you which conferences, workshops and other events are happening in the UK and elsewhere and which friends and colleagues are attending. You can add and track events by seeing what is being tweeted by participants, and export your events as iCal or into your Google calendar (the site is powered by microformats). You can also add slides, videos and audio to sessions as well as linking to books.

Lanyrd Home Page

In fact a lot of the functionality is similar to the CREW software. CREW is a collaborative project between the the Universities of Manchester, Bristol and Wales, Bangor and is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) through the second phase of the Virtual Research Environments (VRE) programme.

Having this sort of shared information would allow people attending from similar locations to make better decisions about travel arrangements, etc or even help decide if you needed to physically attend the event. We’ll be referencing tools such as Lanyrd in the final report so if anyone knows of any similar sites/tools then please let us know.

September 15, 2010

eLearning Symposium Case Study

Filed under: General,Related projects — dhiom @ 4:37 pm

The Greening Events project staff  recently presented their work at the Higher Education Economics Network one day  eLearning in Economics Symposium at the University of Bristol.  A short Slidecast should be embedded below or is available via SlideShare.

Greening Events Project Presentation for the HE Economics Network

View more presentations from dhiom.

As this was a workshop full of Economists it was the perfect audience to help us grapple with issues such as perverse incentives – for example how do you deal with the fact that it may be less carbon intensive for 4 people to journey by car to an event than by train but the train will be running anyway and therefore increasing the carbon impact? What might the consequences of fewer face-to-face events for tourism dependent countries and communities? And how are “net” effects estimated e.g reallocating of saved budgets?

As well as the presentation, the software tools were made available to delegates prior to the event to help plan their journey and results of their feedback will feed into the final tools and report.

July 5, 2010

Next test for software toolkit

Filed under: General — Phil Cross @ 3:24 pm

We’re trialing the software with another JISC Digital Media workshop on 5th/6th July.

We have now added the following features to the CREW event web site:

  • The ability to add a KML file containing the coordinates of a route in to the event location which will be displayed via the Google Maps API. Such files can be produced by GPS powered phones with a suitable app, such as SportTracker on the Nokia. This allows a custom route to be inserted into the event route page should a Google generated one not be suitable
  • Enabled user login and commenting ability so users can add comments to each event, which might aid others with their travel plans. It also allows event organisers to add last minute information for delegates
  • An Atom RSS feed has also been generated for the comments added to each event

For the Mobile Campus Assistant web site:

  • The ability to harvest and list the comments feed produced by the CREW web site
  • The ability to display the KML route map. The javascript for the Google map has been updated to version 3 and is intended to pick up the users location if they have GPS available

June 30, 2010

Annotated Bibliography (Working Draft)

Filed under: General — paulshabajee @ 5:11 pm

We have collated bibliographic references  in  an annotated bibliography that gives an indication of the areas the project has been investigating as part of our background research into understanding academically related events and their impacts on sustainability (economic, social and environmental).  It is very much a working document and will grow and evolve over the life of the project.

We plan to set up a community based online version of this bibliography – and  are currently evaluating the suitability of various online bibliographic tools for this purpose. If you have recommendations for online tools/services that we could use please let me know – either using comments below or links from the People page.  Examples we’re looking at include (in alphabetical order):  2Collab, Citeulike, Connotea, EndnoteWeb and Mendeley.