Calculating Event Emissions to Take Sustainable Action

Jenny Morgan

Tradewater was invited to share tools and resources for Event Tech Live attendees to help them produce more sustainable events. We were privileged to speak alongside some of the most knowledgeable in the event industry, including The Sustainable Events Forum and Curve.

Any event, whether it be a meeting, conference, workshop, concert, or baby shower, produces emissions. Emissions are carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are released directly or indirectly into the atmosphere because of an activity. Event emissions are typically associated with attendee travel, hotel stays, energy usage, data storage, and production. The current climate crisis is a result of excess emissions caused by human activity. Therefore, it is important to understand and manage our emissions when possible. Event Carbon Calculators empower event organizers to measure their emissions, analyze the data, and take necessary action to offset and identify opportunities to reduce their footprint.

Calculating Event Emissions

Being “sustainable” is the ability to exist in a balance, meaning that we meet our current needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future. Just like it is beneficial for an event manager to track how they are prioritizing their time, it is beneficial to make informed decisions based on where your event’s emissions are coming from.


Tradewater’s Event Carbon Calculator provides a quick option for event leaders to calculate their carbon footprint for free. They simply enter the details of their event to get an estimated calculation of emissions generated by the event. The calculator typically takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete and at the end of the process, organizers are given the option to offset emissions by supporting Tradewater’s climate solutions.

Support Climate Solutions to Offset Your Footprint

Offering a self-serve platform that is measurable, easy, cost-effective, and impactful, takes the guesswork out of climate action for event leaders and companies prioritizing sustainability. Vetting potential climate solutions is necessary to ensure your contributions are going towards impactful work. Tradewater is committed to providing the tools and verified solutions that enable everyone to take meaningful climate action. The climate solutions we are focused on meet and exceed the industry standards for quality, making them climate solutions that stakeholders can trust.

Whether you chose to support Tradewater, or another climate solution, there are a few things to consider when determining the quality of that solution:

  • Permanent. Look for climate benefits that are permanent. Tradewater’s is forever destroying the greenhouse gases we collect, making the work permanent.
  • Additional. Make sure the work would not happen if not for your support. For the gases Tradewater is collecting and destroying there is no end-of-life solution. If the work is not financially supported via the sale of carbon offset credits, it won’t be done.
  • Accurate. Look for projects where the environmental impact is clear and can be measured accurately. One way to ensure this is to look for projects that are third-party verified and issued by the leading carbon registries, like ACR and VERRA. The carbon offset credits Tradewater creates are linked to an environmental benefit that is clear, measured, and precise. They are also third-party verified and listed on the leading carbon registries.
  • Responsible. Select projects that are executed responsibly and have additional benefits. Fulfilling the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a good marker of co-benefits. Tradewater’s projects not only meet several SDGs, but also create economic benefits for local communities, having invested $32 million to date.
  • Easy. Your interactions with solution providers should be easy and transparent. Tradewater is fully transparent with our documentation and provide ongoing support with a credit purchase, along with financing options, like a one-time payment or subscription.

Tradewater prides itself on satisfying all five of these considerations and is only able to complete our work through our collaborative partners and customers. Experts from Giving Green and Project Drawdown have found our credits to be of the highest quality and impact. As John Foley, Executive Director of Project Drawdown, said, “A Tradewater offset is an offset you can actually measure. This is a real thing that is tangible. You know how much you destroy and it’s preventing a real emission.” 

Reduce Your Footprint and Enjoy the Co-Benefits

Mitigation tactics are simple, but they are not easy. The work must be continuous, in pursuit of progress over perfection. The top three emissions sources when it comes to events include food waste, transportation, and physical waste, like décor and swag. Use data to find ways to use less, waste less, and eliminate unforeseen surprises.

Repeatable actions to achieve successful and sustainable events.

It’s important to clearly define the goals, objectives, and key performance indicators (KPIs) when crafting a carbon negative event from the beginning of the planning process.

Be intentional throughout the planning process by leveraging the Seven Rs of Sustainable Event Consumption:

Share Your Learnings & Success

As a bonus, weaving climate action into your event planning can achieve a multitude of co-benefits, influencing event stakeholders’ trust and loyalty. Attendees are expecting a valuable experience with sustainability in mind, sponsors need to uphold their own climate commitments, and the media wants shareable content. It is a personal and professional priority for everyone, and when the event efficiently executes these goals, it adds to everyone’s bottom line, including the planet’s.

When events are designed with the environment and inclusion at their heart, it demonstrates that a better way of doing things is attainable and rewarding. We have a huge opportunity to achieve positive change in the event industry and are well-positioned to move this movement forward. (Download)

Let’s show how it is done!

Event Tech Live presentation deck: Calculating Event Emissions to Take Sustainable Action.pptx
Sustainable Events Repo on GitHub (Open Sourced):
Sustainable Event Playbook Template Example (Open Sourced / Download): sustainable-events/Sustainable Event Playbook Template Example
Sustainable Event Playbook Template Checklist (Open Sourced / Download): sustainable-events/Sustainable Event Playbook Template Checklist
Event Emissions Calculator: Offset Your Event’s Carbon Footprint | Tradewater
Carbon Offset Recommendations: Recommendations | Where to Give | Giving Green
Carbon Labels:
Sustainable Events Forum RFP Sustainability Questions:
Curve’s Design and Host Brilliant Online Workshops



Emission reductions are considered permanent if they are not reversible. In some projects, such as forestry or soil preservation, carbon offset credits are issued based upon the volume of CO2 that will be sequestered over future decades—but human actions and natural processes such as forest fires, disease, and soil tillage can disrupt those projects. When that happens, the emission reductions claimed by the project are reversed.

The destruction of halocarbon does not carry this risk. All destruction activities in Tradewater’s projects are conducted pursuant to the Montreal Protocol , which requires “a destruction process” that “results in the permanent transformation, or decomposition of all or a significant portion of such substances.” Specifically, the destruction facilities Tradewater uses must meet or exceed the recommendations of the UN Technology & Economic Assessment Panel , which approves certain technologies to destroy halocarbons, including the requirement that the technology achieve a 99.99% or higher “destruction and removal efficiency.” Simply put, this means that Tradewater’s technologies ensure that over 99.99% of the chemicals are permanently destroyed. During the destruction process, a continuous emission monitoring system is used to ensure full destruction of the ODS collected.


Some carbon offset projects necessarily rely on estimations or assumptions when calculating the emission reductions from project activities. Forestry projects, where developers make assumptions about the carbon that will be sequestered over future decades if trees are conserved, are a perfect example. Such projects sometimes result in an overestimation of the environmental benefit of the project.

Tradewater’s halocarbon projects avoid the issue of overestimation by consistently conducting extremely precise testing and measurement of the amount of refrigerant destroyed in each project.

  • Every container of ODS that Tradewater destroys is weighed by a third-party using regularly calibrated scales. The ODS is then sampled by a third-party and analyzed by an accredited refrigerant laboratory to determine its species and purity. These two steps combine to ensure that credits are issued only for the precise volume and type of refrigerant destroyed.
  • The destruction facilities that Tradewater uses continuously monitor the incineration process during destruction events to ensure that over 99.99% of the ODS is destroyed. This monitoring is mandated by regulatory protocols and is part of the verification process to which projects are subjected.
  • Tradewater accounts for the project emissions created during the collection, transport, and destruction of ODS, and the number of offsets issued is reduced by a corresponding amount. The protocols that we use also build in other reductions to account for substitute chemicals that will be used to replace the destroyed refrigerants. Tradewater publishes this information in the documentation for all its ODS destruction projects. These documents outline how the material was obtained, the project emissions calculations, the test results, and the amount and type of ODS chemicals destroyed, among other information.
  • Additionality

    It is a basic requirement of all carbon offset projects that the underlying project activities are additional. “Additional” means that the projects would not happen in the absence of a carbon market. Tradewater’s halocarbon projects simply would not happen – and the gases would be left to escape into the atmosphere – without the sale of the resulting carbon offset credits. This is because there is no mandate to collect and destroy these gases. It is still permissible to buy, sell, and use halocarbons that were produced before the ban. There are other reasons halocarbon destruction projects are additional:

    • There are no incentives or financial mechanisms to encourage halocarbon destruction. According to the International Energy Agency and United Nations Environment Program, “there is rarely funding nor incentive” to recover and destroy ozone depleting substances in storage tanks and discarded equipment. And collecting, transporting, and destroying halocarbons is time-intensive and expensive. The burden to collect and destroy these gases therefore remains prohibitive outside of carbon offset markets—meaning that if organizations like Tradewater do not do this work, nobody else will.
    • Countries are not focused on the need to collect and destroy halocarbons. The Montreal Protocol has been celebrated as a success because of its production ban. This success, however, ignores the legacy gases produced before the ban and is a blind spot for government regulators. In the U.S., for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a Vintaging Model in the 1990s to estimate the quantify of ozone depleting substances left in circulation. Based on the inputs and assumptions put into the model, the EPA predicted that no CFCs would be available for recovery beyond 2020 in the United States. But this prediction did not prove accurate. Tradewater has collected and destroyed more than 1.5 million pounds of CFCs globally in recent years and continues to identify thousands of pounds per week.
    • International carbon accounting standards do not require corporations to measure or track emissions tied to halocarbons, and refrigerants are specifically excluded from Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) commitments. These commitments derive from emissions reporting under the GHG Protocol, which requires companies to report on emissions only from new generation refrigerants, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), but does not establish any obligation to report inventories or emissions of refrigerants still in use, such as CFCs and HCFCs. All these factors combine to make Tradewater’s carbon offset projects highly additional. As Giving Green, an initiative of IDinsight, concluded: “Tradewater would not exist without the offset market, so this element of additionality is clearly achieved.” The case for additionality is not so clear for some other project types, such as forestry and landfill gas carbon projects. For example, some forests are already being conserved for their beauty, or for use as parks, and generate carbon offset credits only because those conservation efforts do not yet have full formal protection in place to avoid deforestation in the future. Similarly, methane from landfills can be used to make electricity or captured as compressed natural gas, thereby creating additional revenue streams to support the activities, beyond the sale of carbon credits.