Moving to virtual events from in-person gatherings during the pandemic has enabled organizations to stay connected. But one benefit is easily overlooked: the impact on the environment.

Worries about climate change did not lessen amid the pandemic. However, as more companies execute virtual and hybrid events, they will help reduce carbon footprints.

Technology is helping make events more accessible and more sustainable in the process. Here’s a look at how.

In-person events require a significant amount of energy.

Travel accounts for a considerable share of the energy required for events, but it’s just part of the equation. As part of their analysis of an in-person event, organizations should consider energy usage during the event, ranging from a venue’s energy efficiencies in place to recycling options.

Virtual events do not eliminate emissions; businesses and the world as a whole are reliant on technology. We will still use energy, but we can use it more wisely and find the areas where it is possible to conserve without sacrificing business objectives.

How much energy does a virtual event save?

To determine how much energy virtual conferencing can save compared to in-person gatherings, consider new research from the University of Michigan.

In developing their analysis, they looked at May 2020 AirMiners virtual conference. Compared to an in-person gathering in San Francisco, the online conference generated 66 times less greenhouse gas emissions.

Virtual events are a competitive advantage.

Businesses do not need to sacrifice their objectives as part of a tradeoff for hosting a virtual or hybrid event. Conversely, they have an opportunity to not only meet them but exceed them.

The most astute organizations know their sustainability platforms are a competitive advantage.

Virtual and hybrid events allow organizations to upsize their events. Adding virtual components to an in-person gathering extends the event and expands the audience.

Consider a local or regional event. Adding a virtual audience allows planners to take that event and make it a national or international one.

Virtual and hybrid events are likely to remain long after the pandemic, and rethinking events allows companies to focus more about the “why” of an event. Putting deeper thought into the planning — including the messages delivered and attendees’ takeaways — makes for more robust events.

Additionally, virtual and hybrid events allow parties to convene more frequently.

Many organizations might be unable to persuade would-be participants to attend multiple times per year. But staging several virtual gatherings during the year enables participants to reduce their travel requirements and enables companies to tailor content and deliver more powerful events.

Companies have an opportunity — unimaginable just a few years ago — to use technology to rethink their approaches. That includes how they interact with their bases during events.

Doing right often has positive benefits. Sustainability is the textbook example.

Sometimes we just need to consider alternate approaches to achieve our goals.