Environmental Benefits of Virtual & Hybrid Events

Environmental Benefits of Virtual & Hybrid Events

This story originally appeared in Nature Communications, a multidisciplinary journal dedicated to publishing high-quality research in all areas of the biological, health, physical, chemical and Earth sciences. 

This pandemic has affected every aspect of people’s lives, including how they work. Today, more than ever, professionals are working from home due to health and safety concerns and local restrictions. In addition, the pandemic has forced the trillion-dollar events industry to undergo a fundamental shift as many organizers shift conferences from physical halls to online platforms like HexaFair to impart the. environmental benefits of virtual and hybrid events

New research in the journal Nature Communications suggests that keeping conferences virtual or using a hybrid format, in which some participants attend in person while others do so remotely, maybe the most cost-effective strategy in mitigating climate change. 

According to Oxford Economics, in 2018, business events involved 1.5 billion people from 180 nations and generated $2.5 trillion of spending and 26 million jobs. In addition, Allied Market Research estimates that the events industry will grow from an estimated €1 billion in 2019 to €1.32 billion by 2028. Let’s see the environmental benefits of virtual and hybrid events here.

The Major Global Conference Industry Emissions 

  • According to Fengqi You, a Cornell University system engineering professor and co-author of the study, the global conference industry contributed 0.138 to 5.31 billion tons of CO2 equivalent (GT CO2e) per year before the pandemic. 
  • He also touted that the event industry is responsible for substantial greenhouse gas emissions globally and thus increases. And, we also believe that moving the conferences online fully or partially could significantly reduce global CO2 emissions. 
  • By shifting conferences from meeting halls to virtual platforms, the carbon footprint and energy use can be reduced by 94 per cent and 90 per cent, respectively. It is still possible to emit a small amount of carbon and energy during virtual conferences from things like home electricity usage, although this is a tiny fraction of what is emitted during an in-person event. So, try to switch to online platforms and ignite the environmental benefits of virtual and hybrid events.
  • Additionally, the study showed that a hybrid system could greatly reduce a conference’s carbon footprint and energy consumption while still keeping more than half of the participants in person. 
  • The authors note that conference planners can minimize an event’s carbon footprint and energy consumption if they select a venue that only requires in-person participants to travel a short distance, or serves plant-based foods. 

Virtual Platform Improves Accessibility 

Despite complaints of ‘Zoom fatigue’ among professionals who have spent countless hours on online platforms, a Nature poll conducted in 2021 found that 74 per cent of its 900 respondents thought virtual conferences should continue after the pandemic. 

The main reason behind the desire to continue virtual conferences was accessibility, followed by cost savings and reducing carbon footprints. In the end, the lack of networking opportunities was the primary reason not to continue virtual conferences. But, the environmental benefits of virtual and hybrid events are limitless.

Virtual Events Platform Improves Environmental Sustainability 

Switching from in-person to virtual or hybrid events decreases carbon footprint by 94 per cent and CED by 90 per cent. To be more explicit, long-distance travel with a round-trip distance of over 10,000 km accounts for 50% of the total GHG emissions of 280 t CO2 equivalent for all participants’ travels. 

Environmental impacts of air transportation scale with distance via a polynomial function due to the landing and take-off cycle (LTO) emissions of flights, with longer distances likely to have lower unit environmental impacts. 

Air transportation leads to multiple impact categories at the midway level, including fossil depletion, marine eutrophication, natural land transformation, ozone depletion, and photochemical oxidant production, in addition to carbon footprint and CED. 

However, in several effect categories, such as agricultural land occupation, terrestrial ecotoxicity, and water depletion, switching from in-person to virtual events reduces environmental impacts by just 35–51 per cent. Hence, the environmental benefits of virtual and hybrid events increase in terms of sustainability.

Virtual Events Platform Reduces Food Waste 

During the conference, we evaluated the environmental consequences of foods. The number and type of meals taken during the conference are represented by FAOSTAT‘s per-participant food supply by country30,31. Fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein foods, legumes, vegetable oil, animal fats, and sweets are all major food categories. 

In addition, they also tout that we can completely avoid this during the online conference or meetings. Along with this, it can also save electricity, thermal energy and water for preparing food. Electricity saving is also considered the major environmental benefits of virtual and hybrid events.

Final Thoughts 

Finally, the study suggests that participants should schedule flights with fewer stopovers for in-person conferences. Organizers of hybrid and in-person meetings should choose hubs carefully, taking into account transit modes and distances. Improving the energy efficiency of the information and communication technology sector and boosting the percentage of renewable energy in power grids are two carbon-reduction options for virtual conferences. 

With so much interest and focus on climate change, shifting from in-person conferences to hybrid or virtual events would be excellent. However, they are limitless.  

So, it’s the right time to switch to a virtual events platform for all your conferences, meetings, trade shows, expo in order to sustain the environmental benefits of virtual and hybrid events. Choose the platform wisely and avoid greenhouse gas emissions, carbon emissions to avoid further climatic mitigation. To get an impressive experience for all your event needs, contact HexaFair now!