Here at Avrion, we like to do the best we can to help the planet and are always looking for ways in which we can make better choices. Making business meetings more environmentally friendly is a great initiative that can help reduce waste and promote sustainability. Here are some of the changes we have been making to give you some inspiration:
1. Meet Mindfully - Schedule Virtual Business Meetings (where you can)
We love meeting our customers in person, but there are times where it is more efficient to have a virtual meeting. Encourage the use of video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet to minimise the need for travel. Virtual meetings save time, reduce carbon emissions from transportation, and decrease resource consumption.
In terms of day-to-day meetings, of course we do a lot of them on Zoom or Teams – we are conscious that having our cameras on all the time for meetings uses up much more carbon, so we try to make sure we turn off the cameras where we can and make it a conference call.
2. Eco-Conscious Collaboration - Embrace Digital Document Storage
Embrace a paperless meeting culture by using digital documents, presentations, and agendas. Utilise cloud storage or collaboration platforms like Microsoft 365, Google Drive, or Dropbox to share files and collaborate in real-time.
This has an added benefit of reducing the need to email different versions of documents often multiple times to multiple people, thereby reducing the associated energy consumption. According to Berners-Lee’s book, The Carbon Footprint of Everything, a normal email has a footprint equivalent to 0.3 g of CO2 emissions. This can rise to 50g, however, with the addition of a large attachment.
3. Sustainability in Action – Selectively Choose Sustainable Venues
When in-person business meetings are necessary, choose venues that prioritise sustainability. Look for BREEAM-certified buildings or those with environmentally friendly practices, such as energy-efficient lighting, water conservation, and waste management systems.
BREEAM Technical Standards is the world’s leading science-based suite of validation and certification systems for sustainable built environment, supporting various ESG solutions.
Since 1990, BREEAM’s third-party certified standards have helped improve asset performance at every stage, from design through construction, to use and refurbishment. Millions of buildings across the world are registered to work towards BREEAM’s holistic approach to achieve ESG, health, and net zero goals. It is owned by BRE – a profit-for-purpose organisation with over 100 years of building science and research background.
4. Explore Alternative Transportation
Encourage attendees to use public transportation, carpooling, or cycling to reach the meeting venue. Provide information on local transportation options and consider offering incentives for using eco-friendly transportation methods.
Zoom & Teams meetings are, of course, greener than driving to meetings in a gas guzzling car, so to take the train makes more sense where possible, and cycling to work if you can.
Three of our Avrion colleagues have taken the plunge and changed to fully electric cars, which are better for the environment, of course. Our Managing Director, a self-confessed petrol head, recognised there was far too much evidence compelling him to buy electric. Purchasing the same car as our MD, one of our Senior Technical Consultants, had this to say about his first trip to a customer meeting:
“After only a week of ownership, this was the first proper ‘trip’ of any real distance, 140 or so miles in total. To this point any charging had been done at home, charging out in the ‘wilds’ was yet something to be experienced. The ‘range anxiety’ is a thing, the biggest topic in the EV world and the winter months do not help, a battery’s worst enemy!
But with some reassurance from other owners, and also some advanced planning on a possible stop for the return journey, I dialled the anxiety down a lot and it made for a calm and comfortable journey.
Planning is key for any long journey, apps such as Zap-Map are a must-have for any EV owner. This helps you see what options are local to your route or destination, right down to their availability.
The experience of driving electric is odd to begin with, soulless some say, the lack of engine noise and engagement with the vehicle. It does feel less like a car you are driving, more of a computer on wheels, with it monitoring your surroundings, your braking distances, slowing you down at junctions.
On the plus side, all of that automation makes for a relaxing driving experience and a two-hour drive does fly by. Arriving back on the driveway at home with 60 miles of range still available was brilliant!”
Personally, my husband and I took the decision to replace our aged, petrol Skoda, which had done good service over many years, with a fully electric MG. Journeys to the office are much quieter and I genuinely feel that it’s better than before. As very much a non-petrol head, I immediately enjoyed the calmer drive, as well as not having to stop for petrol!
5. Save Local Communities - Shop Local
Shop Local UK is on a mission to save our local communities. Try to opt for locally sourced and organic catering options to reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation and support local businesses. Use proper cutlery and crockery if you can (using an eco programme on the dishwasher, of course). Alternatively, use reusable or compostable utensils, plates, and cups to minimise waste.
If you are eating out, look for sustainable restaurants similar to our local Lussmanns Sustainable Kitchen & Bar – not only does the food taste incredible, but you can feel satisfied that you are supporting their aim to make sustainable dining accessible to all.
To be a sustainable restaurant, they need to consider several factors: that run from the social (linked to contracting staff and customer service), and the economic (local suppliers and efficiency), to those linked to the environment (carbon footprint, waste management, etc.).
This article from OpenTable showcases 10 innovative restaurants championing sustainability in the UK.
6. From Waste to Wow - Reduce Your Waste
Implement recycling and composting programs. Provide clearly labelled bins for different types of waste, and educate employees and visitors alike on proper disposal methods. Minimise the use of single-use items like disposable water bottles, and provide water stations or reusable bottles instead.
Recycling helps protect our planet. Most people do it, but if you want to know what, how, and where you can recycle, have a look at Recycle Now. Be responsible when throwing things away and look for ways to avoid them going to landfill.
For example, there are many companies who help you recycle old IT equipment, while also giving back to the community, such as:
- Restore Technology – our hugely successful customer offering a variety of useful services for and who understands the importance of supporting their local community.
- CPR Computer Recycling, a not-for-profit organisation offering free collections to schools and businesses, a drop-off or send service for personal/home customers. All their profits go to charity.
7. Conserve Energy the Smart Way
Optimise energy usage during business meetings by ensuring lights and equipment are turned off when not in use. Choose meeting spaces with natural lighting and utilise energy-efficient equipment and appliances.
Take it further by implementing plug-in or wireless energy monitors that simply clip around the live electricity cables, enabling you to measure energy consumption within a particular area of your building, a circuit, or an item of equipment. If you can measure it, you can make adjustments to reduce it!
If you have on-premise hardware, look to replace it with more efficient cloud solutions, if feasible. As well as the energy the hardware consumes, there is the added requirement to keep them cool through air-conditioning units, which in themselves use a lot of energy.
Cloud data centres, such as Microsoft Azure or Avrion’s private hosting, have been built with efficiency in mind. Advances in technology mean that the locations of the data centres can be chosen for their lower ambient temperature through colder climates or even underwater! Through their Project Natick, Microsoft found underwater data centres are reliable, practical, and use energy sustainably.
8. Giveaway Sustainably – Say No to Plastic
If you provide promotional items or giveaways, choose environmentally friendly options. Instead of plastic pens, consider reusable products, such as tote bags, eco-friendly stationery, or sustainable tech gadgets. They don’t have to cost the Earth, literally and metaphorically!
When we attend business expos, we like to make sure our giveaways are *green*. We have used some seed paper drinks coasters that, once used, can be planted out to produce some wildflowers for the bees and insects in our gardens.
Another favourite of ours is Dash Water. It is a healthy freebie, not full of sugar, from an innovative company that uses “wonky” fruit that would otherwise go to waste, to flavour water – in cans, not plastic bottles.
9. Be Remarkable - Use Technology for Note Taking
Instead of distributing printed handouts, encourage participants to take digital notes using their devices, or provide tablets for note-taking purposes. This reduces paper waste and makes it easier to organise and share information.
Innovative technology such as Remarkable (the paper tablet) feels like you are putting pen on paper.
Alternatively, Office 365’ s transcribe feature converts speech to a text transcript with each speaker individually separated.
10. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and Offset Carbon Emissions
If your organisation has a budget for sustainability initiatives, consider offsetting the carbon emissions associated with travel or energy consumption during business meetings by investing in renewable energy projects or supporting verified carbon offset programs.
If we have inspired you to start your sustainability journey, why not sign up to Ecologi today by using our referral link and receive 30 “Sparkly Trees” as a thank you (plus we get 30 new trees too – it’s a win win!)
By implementing some or all of these practices, you can significantly reduce the environmental impact of your business meetings and foster a culture of sustainability within your organisation. There is no Planet B!