Carbon neutral events: Where do you start?

The steps to consider to make your event carbon neutral include:

  1. Event Contract is Signed
  • Begin the process by engaging a registered Climate Active Consultant to facilitate your carbon neutral certification submission. Understand the fees, requirements and timelines for your event. It can take up to 12 weeks to prepare a carbon neutral submission. The best option would be to partner with a Carbon Neutral Event Management Company who has the experience and connections to guide you through the process.
  1. Picking your Venue
  • Ask potential venues about sustainability policies and mention your intention to deliver a carbon neutral event. Understanding what information the venue can provide from the beginning will save time when gathering information for your submission.
  • The venue will need to provide you with information including water consumption, energy consumption, food and waste management and energy rating.
  • Picking a plant-based menu does not necessarily mean the cost per delegate will be lower. Include farm-to-fork considerations and sourcing local food.
  • Consider the venue’s location and proximity to public transport, accommodation and social event venues to reduce the carbon footprint for attendees.
  • Be mindful you will need to gather the same information from your social event venues too.
  • Holding a carbon neutral event is beneficial for a venue as well so it is in their best interest to support you.


  1. Account for Carbon Neutral Fees in your Event Budget 

Holding a carbon neutral event incurs costs which include:

  • Consultant Management fees
  • Climate Active submission and license
  • An independent audit
  • Carbon credit funds
  • Approximately 20 hours goes into the process with the majority of time spent on information gathering.


  1. Find a Sponsor

Reduce or offset some costs by securing a Carbon Neutral Partner who can provide funding support. In return you can offer:

  • Exclusive branding rights as the official Carbon Neutral Partner of the event with logo placement on all event materials.
  • Opportunity to speak within the program to educate attendees on their sustainability initiatives.
  • Access to event branding and carbon neutral reporting statistics of the event for partner’s promotional use.


  1. Think About Program Format
  • A hybrid event format can reduce carbon emissions allowing virtual access for international/interstate travellers who might normally fly to attend. The option to attend from home means less energy, water and food consumed at the event.
  • A smaller physical program design with less breakout rooms results in less energy consumed. Consider moving program content to an online library of recorded talks that would normally take up an additional venue room.
  • Consider starting your program later in the day to allow for attendees to travel the same day as the start day to reduce additional accommodation for the prior night.


  1. Design your Event to be Sustainable

A more sustainable event means less carbon emissions and this in turn reduces the cost of neutrality. When setting up the event budget consider event components and make an allowance for a sustainable substitute. These may incur additional costs however mitigate an increase in cost for certification.

Items to consider changing or removing:

  • Signage – consider if the event can go without signage. If not, maximise electronic signage options or print on recycled material and look at option to reuse for future events.
  • Satchels – encourage delegates to BYO or select a sustainable option.
  • Satchel Inserts – remove altogether and find a digital alternative such as the website, a digital mobile app, social media post, EDMs and other marketing and promotional activity.
  • Program Books – delegates opt-in to receive the printed book but encourage the use of Mobile App as an alternative.
  • Tickets – digital instead of printed or name badge icons.
  • Lanyards – encourage delegates to BYO lanyard or opt-in during registration. Source sustainable lanyards and name badges.
  • Posters – digital poster terminals instead of hard copy poster boards.
  • Exhibition Booths – speak with your stand builder for a sustainable booth design which may cost more than the standard octanorm.
  • Accommodation – source accommodation room blocks at hotels that have a sustainable policy, are close in proximity to encourage walking and may include transport to and from the venue.


  1. What to Include in the Registration Form
  • You will need to provide data on attendee behaviour as part of the certification application process. Initially it will be an estimate, but more accurate statistics will be required. Include the following in your registration form:
  • Attendee mode of transport to venue (bus, car, train, walk, plane, and plane with carbon offset included). If the attendee selected to offset their carbon emissions with plane travel, this can be removed from the event’s calculations as the attendee has paid for it themselves.
  • Opt in to receive program book
  • Opt in to receive a satchel
  • Opt in for a lanyard
  • Accommodation – hotel or staying home
  • Adding an option for a donation towards offsetting the event ($1, $2, $3, $5).


  1. Communicating Carbon Neutral Certification.
  • Your Consultant or Event Manager will advise once you have received official carbon neutral certification. You may receive a certificate and formal approval to use the logo on marketing and communications. This is another reason why you want to start this as early as possible so you can use the logo for marketing purposes to drive event revenue.
  • Update your website with the logo and include a blurb about becoming carbon neutral and what it means to the event.
  • Create social media posts promoting the event’s carbon neutrality and meeting event objectives.
  • Distribute an EDM announcing the Carbon Neutral Certification and ways attendees can further support this important event objective.
  • Distribute an EDM sharing projects the event is supporting with the carbon offset credits.
  • Post event, provide a summary of initiatives the event implemented to reduce the overall carbon impact, and if a repeat event, compare to previous years to show the sustainability legacy from the event.


Steps for a carbon neutral event infographic