Welcome to the first in a series about carbon emissions as they relate to conferences and events. Let’s start with the basics…

What is carbon?
Carbon is a basic building block for life. It is present in all living things. In its elemental form we know it best as coal, oil and natural gas which is a source of energy for many of our activities on the planet.

What we tend to be most concerned with when it comes to meetings and events is our ‘carbon footprint’, which we often use to describe the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases emitted over the full life cycle of a product or service. In addition to emissions output our carbon footprint may also include raw materials, or inputs.

What is your carbon footprint?
Just for fun you might enjoy seeing what your personal carbon footprint is. Follow the link to the Earth Day Network calculator www.myfootprint.org.

What is the ‘carbon footprint’ of a conference?
The “carbon connection” with meetings and events tends to be three-fold, associated with:
• Transportation: the gasoline and kerosene that fuels buses, taxis, shuttles, freight haulers and aircraft.
• Buildings: fuel that lights, heats and cools the hotels and venues we occupy.
• Manufactured products (purchasing): oil and other fossil fuels that may power factories that produce goods we need as well as the materials that go into the production of food, paper, plastics, fabrics and other products that we give away at meetings.

Next post I will talk about how to address your conference’s carbon footprint.