Environmental impacts are those concerned with the built and natural environment, including air, water and biodiversity. Events cause impacts resulting from activities such as construction, energy use and transport of spectators and participants, which in turn impact on major environmental issues such as climate change and the reduction in natural resources.
1. Integrating Environmental Considerations
There are environmental impacts from an event throughout the period of preparation for the event, as well those during, and concluding, the event. For many types of impact, the larger the event, the greater the negative environmental impact. Decisions made at the early planning stage can significantly influence the types of environmental impacts that arise from the event. Therefore good practice is to establish a baseline environmental assessment at the start of the preparation phase, and a plan to deliver the event with environmental sustainability at the heart of all decision making. Policies put in place to address environmental issues also need to take account of the actions of suppliers, for example through green procurement policies.
Where major events involve the construction of new built environment, there are specific guidelines and best practice for green construction, for example through LEED certification.
2. Possible Outcomes
a. Environmental Quality – the nature of major events having significant media attention in the build-up to the event, provides an opportunity for them to demonstrate leadership of environmental best practice and standards, such as waste recycling, which may be adopted more widely by other organisations in the host nation after the event.
Example Output KPIs
• New environmental standards or innovations adopted within host nation
b. Climate Action – very large scale multinational events with media exposure to a wide audience, also provides an opportunity for positive leadership and action to address climate change, which can in turn support multinational co-operation for this global issue.
Example Output KPIs
• New renewable energy generation sources
Good practice is for major events to address environmental issues within the sustainability plans at the start of the preparation phase. Key areas to be considered are;
a. Waste – One of the most visible environmental impacts arising from a major event. However, volumes, nature and destination of waste associated with an event, either as part of infrastructure development, event operations or visitor consumption are complex to measure. This is due to the mix of responsible agents from venues, local authorities, organisers and suppliers, to spectators and participants.
• Proportion of waste diverted from landfill (including recycling, composted)
• Proportion of food and drink containers made from recyclable/biodegradable material
• Proportion of signs, banners, tents etc. that can be used for multiple years
b. Energy – Energy use during the preparation and delivery of a major events takes different forms, whether from the construction of venues, energy consumed by spectators travelling to an event, or energy used in running event venues. Critical is to minimise the proportion of this energy developed through the use of fossil fuels due to the impact on climate change from greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the practice of calculating the carbon footprint of an event is becoming more common. This is a useful tool to identify opportunities for avoiding and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon offsetting can be used to offset any unavoidable emissions through ‘carbon compensation’ schemes.
• Proportion of energy sourced from renewables or purchased through energy providers’ green power programme
• Quantified emission reductions against baseline carbon footprint
• Total event carbon footprint (CO2 equivalent)
c. Water – Increasingly water is becoming a scarce resource in many host communities, if only at certain times of the year. Therefore reducing water consumption is a key issue for sustainable development and an area of focus for major events, both in preparation for, and during, the event.
• Proportion of water used from sustainable sources, e.g. rainwater harvesting
d. Transport – Transport can be one of the most complex aspects of hosting a major event and a large contributor to costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced air quality. Encouraging people to use greener transport modes to get to and from events reduces travel time, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and parking issues.
• Proportion of visitor journeys by public transport
• Proportion of visitor journeys by sustainable travel (e.g. cycling, zero-emission vehicles)
e. Natural Capital – Open spaces created as part of new construction for major events can have a significant impact on local ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems provide numerous benefits, such as amenity, mitigation against urban heat island effects, flood alleviation, soil stability, improved air quality and soundscape, and food production.
• Environmental safeguards put in place, e.g. pollution prevention measures
• Net gain in accessible greenspace
4. Glossary of Terms
The variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. A high level of biodiversity is usually considered to be desirable and important to all species’ survival.
The measurement of greenhouse gas emissions attributable to an event or activity, expressed as tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent which allows the different greenhouse gases to be compared on a like-for-like basis relative to one unit of CO2.
Where individuals and organisations mitigate their emissions by investing in projects that avoid the production of carbon or remove it from the atmosphere.
The term used to describe the change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular attributable to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. The principal greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorinated gases, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
The purchasing of environmentally friendly products and services, and the use of environmental requirements in the selection, and contracting, of suppliers.
A third-party verification process in order for structures to be considered “green,” or environmentally friendly. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is focused primarily on new, commercial-building projects and based upon a points system, see http://leed.usgbc.org.