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Greening Your Events: Event Formats & Decision Tools

The information and tools on this page are for pre-event planning (to help you select the format to meet your event goals while also considering sustainability).

Event Formats

  • Virtual Events: For virtual events, all participants join remotely using virtual technology. Compared to events that require participants to travel, virtual events, such as online meetings and webinars, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, usually cost much less, and increase work-life flexibility.
  • Onsite Events: At onsite events, all participants usually travel to a single location. With sustainability in mind, green onsite (in-person) events, such as meetings and conferences, can still limit greenhouse gas emissions, reduce consumption of natural resources, reduce waste to a minimum, and support sustainable acquisition and locally-sourced food and services.
  • Hybrid Events: Hybrid events combine an onsite event with virtual participation. Participants gather in one or more locations and/or join remotely. Hybrid events often reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cost less, and increase work-life flexibility for the remote participants.

Event Decision Tools

The Choose Your Event Format provides event planners with an overview of event formats and guides them through a process to assist in deciding what format will best suit their needs. Questions in the Event Decision Guide help event planners define the purpose, outcomes, and participants for an event. The guide also provides pros, cons, and examples for each format.

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) and Travel Cost Estimator spreadsheet can be used by event coordinators as a pre-event planning tool or to estimate travel cost savings and GHG emissions avoided from virtual events.  Below are two versions of the spreadsheet: one for pre-event planning and one for post-event estimates. Here is a brief Tutorial on how to use these spreadsheets. (NOTE: this is an FS internal-only link)

When you have decided whether your event will be virtual, onsite, or hybrid, consult the Resources & Support page of this website for planning checklists, guides, tips, tools, best practices, and additional resources. In addition to these resources, check out the Success Stories section.

Forest Service employees: Fill out the Green Event Feedback Form after your event, so we can learn from our efforts and share successes on this site. This supports Core Action 5 of the FS Sustainable Operations Accomplishment Reporting which asks units to, “Incorporate sustainable practices into onsite events and/or replace some onsite events that require travel with hybrid or virtual events. See the Resources & Support page for more information.

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