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Calculating Carbon and Responsible Teammate Gatherings

If you’ve had the pleasure of attending a large DaVita gathering, you know how hard DaVita teammates work to create a special place. DaVita hosts many events including the professional development event known as Academy and the annual leadership gathering known as Villagewide. There are many components of a successful event from tasty food, thoughtful and engaging content, and a sound system blasting dance music, DaVita style. There is something else our teammates are considering when planning large gatherings: the carbon footprint.

Every component of a large event has an impact on the environment. The attendees travel to the event using planes and cars with combustion engines. The decorations and entertainment systems are transported using a truck. The hotel rooms are heated or cooled. These are just some of the many inputs that contribute to a large gathering’s carbon footprint.

We can measure a large gathering’s carbon footprint. This is done by taking all of the inputs and calculating the equivalent carbon dioxide emissions for those inputs. These inputs can be straightforward like the carbon dioxide emitted by a car. They can also be more complex like adding up the carbon dioxide equivalent emissions for a plate of food. Food needs to be harvested, transported, cleaned, and cooked and each of these activities emit greenhouse gases. When we add up all of the inputs, we get emission equivalencies per gathering.

Once we know what the carbon footprint of a large gathering is, we can work to reduce this footprint. If data tells us that we are emitting a lot of greenhouse gases by flying teammates to a gathering, we can encourage teammates to attend gatherings closer to their hometowns. If data suggests that food is a large share of emissions, we can source local food and provide more plant based options. These carbon footprint reduction techniques are ongoing and are different for each gathering.

Teammate gatherings are important for DaVita culture and teammate development and there are some carbon footprint inputs that cannot be eliminated entirely. To further reduce impact on the environment, DaVita will often offset the carbon emissions associated with large gatherings. A carbon offset considers the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas equivalent emissions and then offsets these emissions elsewhere. Typically a carbon offset is purchased and the proceeds directly contribute to a greenhouse gas emission mitigation project. Examples of projects include renewable energy production, reforestation, or landfill methane capture.

DaVita is working to both reduce and offset emissions associated with large gatherings. Recent reduction efforts have included working with hotels to divert waste from landfills, eliminating single-use plastic water bottles from Academies, and reducing the number and distance of shipments for audio and visual equipment. DaVita also offset over 1,475 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MT CO2e) associated with Villagewide and over 1,630 metric tons of MT CO2e associated with Stadium Academy. The purchased offsets supported a clean wind energy project in India and a biomass project in Brazil, respectively. For context, the carbon dioxide emissions that were offset from these two events is equal to burning 350 thousand gallons of gasoline.

These successes are impressive, but there is still work to be done to reduce the environmental footprint associated with events. Over 5,700 teammates attended Academy and more than 11,700 teammates benefited from award winning DaVita University programs in 2018. These events present an exciting opportunity to grow our teammates while simultaneously mitigating our impact on the environment.

Sean Mangus

Sean Mangus

Sean is a Senior Sustainability Analyst for Village Green, DaVita’s corporate sustainability team. He lives and works in Denver where he was born and raised. In his free time he enjoys hiking, fishing, and homebrewing beer.