Energy Impacts

What are the Advanced Measures?

In line with the categorisation used in other sections of eventIMPACTS, advanced environmental impacts are generally considered to be those which constitute long-term behavioural change on behalf of spectators or other event attendees. However, in the case of advanced environmental measures linked to energy use, we include carbon footprints as an advanced measure. This is largely because estimation of the footprint is difficult and the achievement of quality estimates is resource intensive.

Advanced measures relating to energy would include:

  • Carbon footprint in (CO2 equivalent) associated with event-related visitation
  • Carbon footprint per event-related visitor (CO2 equivalent)
  • Total event carbon footprint (CO2 equivalent)
  • Reductions in personal carbon footprint following events

Carbon Footprinting of Events

The term carbon footprint has become hugely popular in discussions around the environmental impact of human activity. Carbon emissions have been identified as a human-generated cause of changes in global climate. A key issue is how to measure carbon emissions. Here then it is necessary to understand the difference between:

Direct emissions: these will overwhelmingly relate to those emissions released as a result of fossil fuel burned as a result of the event (i.e. before, during or after the event itself). For example, fuel burned in venue development, by organisers during the event (e.g. vehicle fleet) and critically by spectators travelling to and from and during the event.

Indirect emissions: these relate to those that do not occur as a result of the immediate burning of fossil fuels, but which still are directly caused by event activity. For example, turning on flood lights for a rugby match places demands on the electricity grid, which is in part maintained by burning fossil fuels. Other indirect emissions would include those required to produce the goods and services that are consumed during or because of an event (including electricity at hotels, and energy used in processing food and drink consumed at an event, producing event merchandise etc).

Clearly, the measurement of direct emissions is more straightforward than the measurement of indirect emissions. Importantly if the quantity and type of fuel burned can be ascertained, then the consequent level of carbon emissions can be estimated. Support is available. For example, the UK Department of Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the European Union[1] provides estimate of carbon emissions per km by vehicle type that remove the need to directly measure fuel consumption (although of course at the cost of some accuracy). Organisers can directly record fuel purchases in service of an event (or require contractors to do likewise) should the will and capacities exit.

The measurement of indirect emissions is more problematic. In some cases the recording of kilowatt hours of electricity used by event organisers can be translated into carbon emissions with reference to the general mix of electricity generation types. For other indirect emissions such as those involved in the processing of goods that are consumed/purchased at an event, it is far more difficult. For example, specialist advice/consultants may be required to estimate the carbon emissions associated with the supply chain of an event.

Below are several resources which can assist event organisers when using advanced measures to assess the impact of energy use at their event.


[1] UK Department of Environment and Rural Affairs

Festival Fuel Tool (produced by Powerful Thinking with support by Association of Independent Festivals) – a simple tool that can rate the fuel consumption of an event and compare it with industry benchmarks

Examples of carbon calculators available to calculate the impact of event related energy and water use are provided below.

Carbon Trust’s Carbon Footprinting software

Julie’s Bicycle Creative IG Tools

Resource: Read here for more information about carbon footprinting