As the industry turned to virtual events in place of their traditional in-person conventions during the height of the pandemic, many companies reported increased engagement and higher viral share among attendees. Sales often increased as well, as participants were free to shop instead of travel or commute during the event’s final sessions.
But a new University of Michigan study is highlighting an additional unexpected benefit of these online events by quantifying the environmental impact of virtual gatherings versus traditional in-person conferences.
By analyzing the carbon emissions of a virtual conference case study that occurred in May 2020, taking into account the energy use of servers, monitors, network data transfer, room lighting and the resources required to design and build that equipment, versus an in-person event in San Francisco, the study discovered that the virtual convention produced 66 times fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
As more brands seek to improve their carbon footprint and environmental impact and lower their emissions and waste, it may be wise for companies to also consider if their massive, in-person events could be just as effective as a virtual or hybrid convention. Switching to virtual has proven to be good for the bottom line—costing pennies on the dollar to execute–and may now also be a cost-effective way companies can amplify their sustainability initiatives.