Scientists frequently speak out about the dangers of climate change, and I'm sure there are many scientists who make concious choices for their own lives with a view towards sustainability. But are there any examples of concerted efforts to make the day-to-day running of the scientific community itself more sustainable? In particular, are there any such initiatives with respect to scientific conferences?
1I agree with the close voter that this question is too broad. Can you perhaps narrow down on the question about conferences? What are the sustainability concerns there, that the scientific community should be addressing?– LShaver ♦May 15, 2019 at 13:22
I agree, it's probably best to focus on 1 particular aspect to avoid making this too broad.. May I propose all the travel to conferences?– THelperMay 15, 2019 at 17:30
I'm not looking for a comprehensive overview, but rather for concrete examples. I hope this is now clearer from the way I have rephrased the question. Indeed, travel is the most obvious concern. But even with the question as broad as it is, my feeling (as a scientist) is that there simply are no examples of the kind I'm looking for. I'll happily narrow the question down if someone can convince me that, on the contrary, there are indeed “too many” such initiatives.– Communicative AlgebraMay 15, 2019 at 20:59
1Related question on Academia.– Federico PoloniMay 17, 2019 at 12:31
While not specifically a scientific conference, earlier this year I attended Greenbuild in Chicago, USA. Greenbuild is organized each year by the U.S. Green Building Council (which also runs the LEED program) and is intended for
professionals in architecture, construction, engineering, planning, and interior design who depend on thoughtful and ethical solutions which promote wellness and resiliency in construction and urban development.
Since 2002, Greenbuild has run a sustainability initiative to track and reduce the environmental impact of the expo across several categories. Reports from previous years are available here, and the most recent report (for the 2018 expo) is here.
Here are the current "sustainability objectives" from 2018 onwards:
- Move Toward a Zero Waste Event
- Advance Stakeholder Education and Engagement
- Improve Sustainable Sourcing
- Improve Performance and Tracking Methods
- Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- Positively Impact Communities
- Lead the Event Industry Through the Advancement of Sustainable Event Management Initiatives
Some of the actions taken for the 2018 expo to meet this objectives include:
- Reducing physical size of printed materials and only distributing to those who specifically request them in advance of the expo
- Required training for expo volunteers on how to sort waste
- Eliminating single use plastics from food and beverage services
- Providing more vegan and vegetarian meal services
- Partnering with ride-share services to provide incentives to attendees, reducing miles driven in personal vehicles.
Obviously some of the stated objectives are difficult to objectively track or measure, but I pulled out some of the numbers that are being tracked from the available reports:
Year GHG (lbs/ Waste diversion Landfilled waste participant) rate (lbs/participant) ---------------------------------------------------------- 2002 1115 2003 1069 2004 1036 48 2.8 2005 983 26 2006 1005 27 3.0 2007 781 91 0.8 2008 933 76 1.5 2009 1247 51 6.4 2010 883 87 0.8 2011 841 73 1.9 2012 1218 86 1.0 2013 828 67 2.1 2014 1426 72 4.8 2015 831 71 2.2 2016 866 90 1.1 2017 509 91 0.5 2018 635 86 0.7