Tourism, particularly congress tourism, contributes a relatively high share of greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, efforts of congress event providers to reduce environmental impact are nothing new. However, detailed analyses of carbon footprints of specific events are still rather rare.
In accordance with our efforts to reduce environmental impact and protect unspoilt nature as one of the key attractions of Bled, Sava Hotels Bled have developed a new product comprising environmentally friendly meetings this year. We wanted to test the actual effectiveness of the measures for reducing greenhouse gases implemented for our Green Meetings by conducting a detailed carbon footprint analysis of our events. We chose this year’s Bled Strategic Forum (BSF 2011) as the basis of the analysis, one of the main annual international events in Bled taking place since 2006 and the first instance of the implementation of our Green Meetings programme.
The carbon footprint analysis was conducted in cooperation with Ekogenca, a company with which we had already cooperated in calculating the carbon footprint of Camping Bled.
The calculation was based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a broadly accepted international standard for calculating and reporting greenhouse gases produced by companies and organisations. This standard is also the recommended method of carbon footprint calculation in the Green Meeting Guide published by the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) , an organisation whose primary aim is to promote the reduction of negative environmental impacts among organisers of events.
Our goal was to calculate the carbon footprint of a single event, i.e. the Bled Strategic Forum. The results obtained in this manner would serve as the basis for assessing the effect of the measures we had already adopted for Green Meetings and as grounds for adopting further measures. We also wanted to obtain data which would be relevant and applicable to all our congress activities at our hotels.
Thus, our carbon footprint analysis included all significant emission sources that were directly connected to the organisation of the Forum:
• Energy consumption related to accommodation and food preparation at our hotels
• All event-related transport
• Energy consumption related to the organisation of the event
• Water consumption during the event
• Other processes directly connected to the organisation of the event
We also conducted a separate calculation of emissions produced by participants’ arrivals and departures. The grounds for the separate calculation were as follows:
• Transport related emissions produced by global events such as the Bled Strategic Forum are disproportionately high compared to other event-related emissions. This would distort the results of our calculation to a large degree making the emission directly produced by the event insignificant.
• We wanted to obtain relevant emission data that would also be applicable to other congress events at our hotels; this required a separate calculation of arrival/departure related emissions.
• We wanted to assess the environmental impact in areas where we had a direct influence on the organisation and could make improvements.
The carbon footprint analysis showed that the amount of greenhouse gasses produced during the Bled Strategic Forum amounted to 22,574.33 kg of CO2e, or 57.44 kg CO2e per participant. A total of 59% of all emissions were produced by transport during the event, 37% by accommodation, 3% by paper consumption and 1% by electricity consumption in congress halls, while the share caused by consumption of water was insignificantly small.
In addition to the calculation of the carbon footprint, we also performed a comprehensive analysis of our environmental impact, which included the efficiency of separate collection of waste and consumption of food and beverages, both from the aspect of greenhouse gas emissions and from the aspect of sustainability.
The calculation of the carbon footprint of accommodation was based on energy consumption in the hotels where the participants stayed. This resulted in the following findings:
• The energy consumption of an average overnight stay (77.31 kWh) at the Sava Hotels Bled is almost equal to the European average calculated in two different researches.
• The energy consumed by environmentally friendly hotels is less than half of the above number according to the said research.
• The carbon footprint of an overnight stay (heating, electricity + food preparation) at Sava Hotels Bled equals 26.6 kg CO2e. This is slightly more than 30% above the average.
The calculation showed that our energy intensity is comparable with the European average. However, our greenhouse gas emissions are higher due to the predominant use of fossil fuels for heating, particularly fuel oil. Therefore, our future efforts must be focused on reducing the share of these fuels and increasing the use of renewable sources of energy.
Transport comprises a very significant share of total emissions. The calculation of the carbon footprint of transport was based on transport during the event, while the emissions due to arrivals and departures were calculated separately, as explained earlier.
• The amount of fuel used for transport per participant during the BSF 2011 equalled slightly over 10 litres of gasoline, which translates to 150 km of travelled distances. The emissions produced by this transport equal 33.73 kg CO2e.
• Emissions due to transport during the BSF are high and this area has great potential for improvement.
Paper consumption was included in the analysis based on two reasons: due to its high environmental impact in other areas and due to a high symbolic value and significance in promoting sustainable management. We only took into account the information materials received by the event participants and did not expect a significant contribution to emissions.
We were rather surprised by the fact that the consumption of paper contributed to 3.5% of GHG emissions, or slightly less than 2 kg CO2e per participant. This area has a high potential for emission reduction, since emissions can be almost eliminated using innovative approaches.
Due to the specific characteristics of the Bled water supply network our water consumption is almost carbon neutral and does not represent a significant environmental issue. We included it because of the global significance of water conservation and because of the related costs.
Less than 0.01 kg of CO2e per participant or a total of 3.19 kg of CO2e is an insignificant amount in the total emissions of greenhouse gases.
For the purposes of calculating the carbon footprint of BSF 2011, Sava Hotels Bled implemented a pilot waste separation scheme. This included additional bins for separate collection of waste in common areas and additional separation of mixed waste by employees.
• This special waste separation scheme reduced the share of mixed waste from 52.8% to 42.6% (compared to the average share of 49% in European hotels). Simultaneously, we increased the share of separately collected waste (paper, packaging, glass) to 30.8% (European average: 20%) and the share of organic waste to 26.6%.
Based on the above, we assess that the implemented measures were successful and will be implemented in general hotel operations in the future.
Consumption of food and beverages
Food and beverage consumption is a complex area of calculation of emissions of greenhouse gases. Due to different approaches, methodologies and locations of food production, as well as deviations in the accuracy of available data, the data for individual ingredients are not of comparable quality. Therefore, the analysis of emissions due to food and beverage consumption was conducted separately and was not included in the calculation of total emissions.
Nevertheless, we have obtained useful data, which will be applied in the planning of more environmentally friendly meals in the future:
– Breakfast produced 35% of all emissions caused by consumption of food. The main reason for such a result lies in the fact that self-service breakfast results in greater quantities of consumed (and discarded) food. Furthermore, emissions are significantly increased by dairy and meat products, which have a larger carbon footprint.
– The lunch was planned as a “green lunch” with more than 60% of ingredients produced locally. This resulted in only an 18% share of emissions produced by consumption of food at lunch.
– Diner produced the greatest share of emissions among all meals (47%) mainly due to a large quantity of beef, which has the greatest carbon footprint among meats.
Based on the analysis of the carbon footprint of the Bled Strategic Forum, we gained relevant data for assessing our impact on the environment and the efficiency of our measures adopted to reduce the said impact. Furthermore, we were able to draft new measures and guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in future congress events as well as daily hotel operations. We extended our analysis to areas where greenhouse gas emissions are not the primary focus. This includes the area of food and beverage procurement where we intend to implement innovative measures for promoting the consumption of local seasonally produced food and beverages, thus contributing to more sustainable management.