How to Make your Next Event More Sustainable

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How to Make your Next Event More Sustainable

By Destination Canada | Sep 7, 2022

Sustainability has evolved from a buzzword often considered an afterthought in an event, to a critical element that now impacts its success. For planners, this means that it’s never been more important to create meaningful and memorable events that are sustainable, without compromising on quality or budget. We’re sharing our top five tips to help you do just that.

Set sustainability goals

One of the first steps to hosting a sustainable event is to create a list of goals that you want to achieve. To get started, we recommend looking at the 17 UN Sustainability Development Goals. A number of venues in Canada — such as Montréal’s convention centre, the Palais de congrès de Montréal — are already aligned with this.

Many destinations, like Explore Edmonton and Destination Vancouver, also have dedicated sustainability teams that can help identify goals and create a plan to achieve them.

Choose the right partners

Choosing partners who have sustainability measures in place is another powerful way to reduce an event’s impact. In Canada, destinations and venues are ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainability — which means that it’s not hard to find partners aligned with your goals.

Take the Vancouver Convention Centre, for example. The state-of-the-art facility is the world’s first double LEED certified convention centre. It boasts impressive features like a six-acre living roof (which is the largest in the country) and uses a seawater heating and cooling system.

Sustainability also requires buy-in from industry suppliers. When planning, consider each supplier's commitment to sustainability. This is once again something that destination marketing organizations can advise on. Once you’ve chosen the right partners and suppliers, be sure to work sustainability terms into contracts.

Go local and eliminate waste

Today's business travellers want to leave a positive impact on the environment and communities — and teaming up with local companies can help ensure this. Throughout Canada, destinations have made working with local vendors a standard. The Halifax Convention Centre offers a menu that’s focused on seasonal, readily available organic ingredients and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre makes delicious honey from its six rooftop beehives — to name just a couple of examples.

Along with sourcing local food, it’s also important to not let any of it go to waste. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the disposal and donation options at a destination; many of them partner with charities and food banks to sustainably process leftovers. For instance, the Edmonton Convention Centre has a waste management initiative called the Second Helping Program, which donated 4,243 meals to the Edmonton Food Bank in 2019.

Lower carbon emissions

By reducing your carbon emissions, you can play a part in improving environmental sustainability. Carbon emissions trackers provide an overview of impact during the planning process, empowering you to take steps to decrease emissions, like by travelling differently.

On Vancouver Island, Destination Greater Victoria has achieved carbon neutral designation from the leading climate advisory services company, Offsetters — making it the first destination marketing organization in North America to meet this milestone.

While planners and partners can do a great deal between them to reduce emissions, don’t forget to also get buy-in from attendees. Provide them with insights on how they can reduce their own impact while attending your event, especially when it comes to getting around. Thanks to initiatives like Calgary’s renewable energy-powered light rail system, that part is easy.

Measure success

Finally, be sure to measure success so that you can continually improve your efforts. Ask suppliers to gather info and provide post-event data on all the initiatives outlined in your contracts. Then, meet with your team to discuss what works and what could be improved.

Building a brighter future — together

Sustainability measures are fundamental for today’s business events and will remain so in the future. However, planners are not alone in this work. Destinations and venues across Canada are leading the way in helping create sustainable and meaningful events.

For impartial insights, inspiration and introductions, planners can contact the Destination Canada Business Events team. Or reach out to Virginie De Visscher, Senior Director of Business Development, Economic Sectors, Destination Canada Business Events directly at



Destination Canada

Destination Canada provides intelligence, tools and resources that help the Canadian tourism industry reach domestic and international markets.