What is the carbon footprint of a digital event? How does it compare to a traditional in-person meeting? Recent events have profoundly changed how we convened and raised many compelling questions related to stakeholder engagement and our environment. While the digital events landscape was not inherently new. The entire delivery systems of an industry had been transformed in a short period of time.

It is embedded within MeetGreen’s organizational DNA to ask critical questions of meetings in whatever format they occur. We want to understand and manage their impacts on the environment with data. We felt uniquely positioned to undertake a rigorous assessment of the emissions footprint of digital connectivity this past year.

Over the past 27 years, MeetGreen has helped lead the planning and implementation of numerous sustainable “in-person” events. These efforts have allowed us to assemble a robust set of data related to the carbon footprints of physical gatherings.

In-Person Events Versus Digital Events Data

Our conferences migrated to 100% digital formats in 2020 to gather communities safely. Meanwhile, we found that we could compare two iterations of the same event and provide this information to our clients. Therefore comparing physical versus digital formats gave us the opportunity to create the MeetGreen® UnCarbon Calculator.

Digital Event Carbon Calculator & Digital Event Accounting White Paper

A comparison was just the start, this year-long process led to critical questions related to:

  • Methodology
  • Emissions boundaries
  • Collaboration and discussion with industry partners

Findings from these efforts created two innovative resources that can help enrich your organization’s insight in digital event emissions accounting.

Digital Event Carbon Calculator Icon + cloud General
Digital Event Carbon Accounting

Digital Event Impact

Did you know a six-hour online event for 4,000 people generates roughly the same carbon impact as a return flight for one person across the Atlantic?

MeetGreen has partnered with Clear Current Consulting to consolidate our collective event assessment experience! We’ve created a credible and advanced tool that can calculate an estimate of your digital event’s carbon footprint in five minutes.

This tool is comprehensive, powerful, and leverages best-in-class protocols & emissions factors that include:

We ourselves wish we had access to this calculator for much of the past year, given its ease of use, and reporting features!

Shawna McKinley

“Many planners want to contribute to sustainability goals through their event experiences. However, it can be hard to get data about carbon footprints, especially when it comes to online events. The new Digital Event Carbon Calculator helps fill this gap so planners can easily learn about the footprint of their digital experiences and compare it to other everyday activities. We hope the tool makes it easier for planners to consider people and the planet when it comes to making decisions about how to meet.”

Shawna McKinley
Principal – Clear Current Consulting

Perspectives On a Complex Topic

As with any environmental model, there are bound to be questions related to methodology and sourcing. We believe even more so when considering the developing and nuanced field of event emissions.

Wikipedia describes a “White Paper” as a report that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body’s philosophy on the matter. We felt this topic was worthy of a more in-depth overview, assessment, and explanation to help enhance its rigor and weight.

Digital Event Accounting White Paper

While the concept of a White Paper may sound intimidating, it was written with an eye towards:

  • A range of readership
  • Streamlined for overall readability
  • Hopefully just the right amount of technical heft

The case studies and UnCarbon Calculator infographics are directly from MeetGreen’s project portfolio in 2019 and 2020, which allows the scope of assessment to cover both physical and digital events. We hope you will take the plunge and see for yourself!

Aaron Elliot and Eric Wallinger

“Among the many insights we gained through the analysis of virtual event emissions, one of the most striking was the discovery that digital emissions encompass much more than simply your device in a void.”

Aaron Elliott & Eric Wallinger
MeetGreen Sustainability

How We Meet Matters

In conclusion, we see tremendous value in the power of people, together, meeting in-person. It is what we love to do, and it has been our mission to help our clients achieve it with as minimal impact as possible. As such, the calculator and white paper findings intentionally avoid advocating for a preferred format of meeting over another. We see value in convening in all forms. Our responsibility as event and environmental stakeholders is to make informed decisions for our people and planet armed with How We Meet Matters!