January 31, 2011 by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
Autodesk revealed the greenhouse gas (GHG) and other environmental impacts of Autodesk University (AU) 2010 recently at its inaugural Sustainability Summit. The results revealed that in-person attendance at the company’s main annual user conference in Las Vegas late last year grew 16 percent, even as the per-attendee carbon footprint was reduced by four percent over 2009 due to increased online participation.
"Each year, Autodesk hosts several conferences attended by thousands from across the globe. While these events are important for our business, they can have a profound impact on the environment, mainly in the form of greenhouse gas emissions from travel, energy and lodging, as well as materials use and waste," said Lynelle Cameron, director of sustainability at Autodesk. "In fiscal year 2010, our largest events contributed 14 percent of the total Autodesk carbon footprint, but we’re working to continue lowering that number and reducing the overall environmental impact of our events. One of our key strategies to that end is driving more online attendance through events like AU Virtual."
In 2010, AU brought together a record 30,000 attendees for live conferences in Las Vegas, Tokyo and Beijing, and online through AU Virtual. Online participants in the event increased 18 percent over 2009, while physical attendees at the main event in Las Vegas increased 11 percent. Even with these attendee increases, however, the analysis conducted by the company shows the benefits of impressive efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the event:
1. Reduction in materials use remains high: Beginning with AU2009, Autodesk reduced the amount of water bottles at the event, saving 3.3 tons of plastic from landfill. In addition, the company moved from printed show guides to a mobile device-based application for attendees, while eliminating handouts for AU classes, reducing paper use enough to save 314 trees.
2. Solid waste diversion keeps materials from landfill: For AU2010, more than 92 percent of all solid waste generated by the event was diverted from landfill, with food scraps going to a local pig farm and all recyclable materials being processed in Las Vegas.
3. Attendee travel continues to be largest impact: Travel of attendees and employees to and from the event – Scope Three emissions – was the primary contributor to carbon impacts. These emission numbers remained flat per physical attendee, even as event participation grew, due in large part to an increase in online attendees.
4. Greening event is important to attendees: In a post-event survey of AU2010 attendees, more than 61 percent of respondents said it was important to them that Autodesk considers sustainability in its operation of the event.