Are Dalhousie’s Conferences “Green”? – A Sustainability Review of Dalhousie’s Halifax Campuses Conferencing Procedures
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The main purpose of this research project was to highlight a new area of improvement for sustainability on Dalhousie University’s campus. Currently, there is limited research on the environmental impact of typical conference practices, however there are a few published studies that suggest conferences are quite unsustainable due to greenhouse gas emissions and wasted materials. This report focused on conferences held on Dalhousie’s the Halifax campus. The organizers of five conferences were interviewed in order to get a better understanding of the factors that determine their planning decisions and to assess the degree to which environmental impacts of their conferences were considered. Our study found that conference organizers are most concerned with conference costs and food when planning conferences, with paper use and transportation also viewed as areas of interest. Based on our findings, we recommend that a conference planning policy with a corresponding guidebook be created to incorporate sustainable practices. This type of assistance will mitigate any uncertainty around what practices are sustainable and provide a sense of ease for people who wish to hold a conference at Dalhousie but have little experience with thinking sustainably. We also recommend that a comprehensive review of large conferences held at Dalhousie should be conducted, in order to better asses the extent to which sustainability practices are considered in conference planning.