Impact vs Effort
Considering the impact relative to your effort?
How many resources are required to manage an issue and its related impacts, relative to the outcomes achieved is obviously one of the factors you need to consider.
Understanding the relative scale of impacts in comparison to others, while also blending in the relevance to stakeholders, is demonstrated in the following example:
In year one of the analysis and diagnosis of various sustainability issues at a major event I determined that some real numbers were needed to fully understand the extent of impacts in comparison to each other to help me work out where our limited resources would be focused to maximum effect in the following year’s event.
I meticulously measured the transport impacts of attendee travel through a rigorous on-site car occupancy survey, cross-matched with ticket sales postcode analysis, car park counts, coach and rail occupancy reports and shuttle bus movements.
Likewise, the fuel used in mobile generators was reported, along with mains electricity demand.
I wanted to match each of these impacts against each other to understand the relative scale of one impact compared to the other.
The analysis showed that coach, bus and rail uptake was at maximum occupancy and potential, and that the only area possible for improvement was in the occupancy rate of private vehicles.
However when comparing the GHG emissions of attendee travel with power use, I came up with the startling fact that if we were able to get one-third more of a person (!) into each car that would wipe out the entire GHG emissions from mobile power supply for the festival.
In other words, the relative GHG emissions impact of the mobile power supply was a fraction of the impact of people travelling to the festival by car.
If I could reduce the car numbers by having 1 more person in every three cars, then that benefit would be equal to the entire GHG emissions impact of the diesel being consumed in the mobile power generators.
On the flip side of this, we realised that things were just about at capacity in the private vehicles too, due to the camping equipment the festival-goers brought with them.
In order to achieve increased occupancy this would be closely tied to attendee campaigning on bringing a lot less camping equipment.
And that challenge directly related to probably the largest issue at this event, namely the abandonment of camping equipment at the end of the event! Thus complex and co-dependent themes started unpacking.
Once through the festival gates, the attendees forget their cars and have several days in amongst the event with huffing and puffing generators, and simultaneously being suggested, via a sponsor, that they should switch to green energy!
The relatively small scale of the GHG emissions from event power increased in importance for management once we included our ability to control the issue and the high profile of renewable energy as a public topic of concern.