Energy and emissions at Sustainability Week

Large events such as Sustainability Week can be major sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The use of electricity, heating, air conditioning, transportation and paper contributes to climate change in some way. Electricity and fuel consumption were regarded to be the most material impacts for Sustainability Week and it was important to measure and mitigate consumption wherever possible. This included creating awareness among key stakeholders. Roughly 90% of electricity generated in South Africa comes from coal fired power stations which emit tons of carbon into the earth’s atmos- phere. Events are also usually associated with the use of planes, cars, busses and trains which use carbon emitting fuels in various degrees.

A ‘carbon footprint’ is an effective measure of the total emissions associated with the event. A carbon footprint can generally be defined as the total sets of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organisation, event, product or person .

Alive2Green undertook a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and offsetting initiative in an attempt to make the event ‘carbon neutral’. Part of the responsibility to reduce the carbon footprint for Sustainability Week rests with exhibitors and participants, and so all attendees were encouraged to select low-carbon options. The initiative to offset the carbon footprint for Sustainability Week 2014 consisted of establishing the event’s overall carbon footprint, implementing event greening measures and then offsetting the Scope 1(direct) and Scope 2 (electricity) emissions with the Basa Magogo gold standard project facilitated by the Climate Neutral Group in South Africa.

Read the full Sustainability Week 2014 Event Sustainability Report here.

Event Management

The organisers of Sustainability Week are committed to ensuring that the events and activities taking place before, during and after the week are as green as reasonably possible in terms of their impact on the environment.

Event greening activities include correspondence and engagement with certain key suppliers such as venue, caterers, exhibitors.

Event Attendance and sponsors regarding ways in which they can reduce the impact of their involvement, and how they can assist to report on sustainability. Various other interventions that relate to specific environmental issues, such as energy, water and procurement have been discussed and actioned with key stakeholders.

Carbon footprint

Events have the effect of increasing carbon emissions as they generate increased levels of activity and energy consumption. We travel to and from events and we make use of accommodation and other products and services when attending events. We can measure the impact of our event activities by calculating a carbon footprint.

Carbon offsets
In order to host a carbon neutral event Alive2Green implemented measures to reduce the carbon footprint of the event as much as possible and offset all remaining emissions, except emissions CNGgenerated by the delegates travelling to the event. Offsetting was ar- ranged by the carbon management company Climate Neutral Group. A carbon offset is an equivalent amount of carbon that is either absorbed, or avoided being emitted, elsewhere. This can be achieved by financing renewable energy or energy efficiency projects to replace the need for fossil fuels, or by conserving or planting forests, to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Under the advice of Climate Neutral Group, Alive2Green selected the Basa Magogo Alternative Ignition Technique project, a pioneering Gold Standard project in South Africa’s townships which is saving lives, reducing emissions and enhancing the quality of life for vulnerable communities. By offsetting with this project Alive2Green ensured that 100 households benefit for years to come which collectively saves these households more than R60,000 per year in coal purchase costs, more than R360,000 in medical bills due to a cleaner cooking environment and more than 30,000 kg of coal is not burned thereby reducing air  pollution across Gauteng.
Venue greening
The CSIR ICC has a number of initiatives in place to reduce negative environmental impact. Gauteng Green Events Guidelines is used by the venue to ensure greening is at the forefront of all activities and the Event Greening Guidelines from GSA Campbell were used by Alive2Green to liaise with venue stakeholders.
Basa Magogo – Light it up Grandmother!

The Basa Magogo Alternative Ignition Technique project is a unique  project of its kind that seeks to change coal-lighting behaviour. This is done through an integrated programme whereby trained locals show households the Basa Magogo way to light a coal fire. The result is a fire that uses less fuel and burns cleaner, thereby reducing carbon emissions and negative health impacts.

Read more about this project here.