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Green Event Planning Policy

Student sitting on the grass

A recognized leader in campus sustainability, Stanford University is continually striving to integrate sustainable practices into all aspects of campus and community life. From infrastructure such as buildings and energy, to services such as dining and transportation, we are taking steps as a campus to reduce our carbon footprint and ecological impact.

Stanford’s “green” leadership extends to all aspects of campus life—including sustainable event planning.

Special events attract thousands of people to campus each year. As part of our campus-wide commitment to sustainability, Office of Special Events & Protocol (OSEP), Sustainable Stanford, Building and Grounds Maintenance, PSSI, Event and Labor Services, Stanford Dining, and the academic departments and programs at Stanford are working to integrate “Green” practices into every step of the planning and implementation of events at Stanford.

Below are some tips and examples of the efforts that can be made to make your event sustainable.

Key Steps to Planning a Green Event

When planning an event, there are many choices to make about what we provide our guests, the resources we choose to use, and how we deal with waste. The following key steps will help you to consider each element of your event and make the most sustainable choices:


Make the commitment to “Green” your event.

Include sustainability as a factor in your decision-making at every step.


Seek out campus partners and resources that can help.

Organizations such as Office of Special Events & Protocol (OSEP), Event and Labor Services, Sustainable Stanford, Stanford Catering, and PSSI can answer your questions about Green event planning and help you meet your goals.


Make a plan.

Create a timeline that includes the resources you will need and when you will need them. Making green choices is easier when you plan ahead, and mapping out your event ahead of time will prevent unsustainable decisions from being made at the last minute. Here are some considerations as your build your event strategy:

  • Marketing and Communications: Pay special attention to minimizing print materials—both in advance, and on the day of your event. Use email and web resources in lieu of paper materials.
  • Event Decoration: Select reusable or recyclable signage, table covers, and organic floral displays. Minimize items such as disposables and helium balloons.
  • Equipment and Energy Usage: Choose local vendors, such as Event and Labor Services, to minimize trucking cost and carbon emissions. Use natural light and select event spaces where the most efficient sound amplification can be utilized.
  • Food and Beverages: Provide meals that are 100% compostable, use recyclable or compostable serviceware, and have a post-event plan for donating useable leftovers.
  • Waste and Recycling: Provide the appropriate number of garbage, recyclable, and compost bins. A 1-1-1 ratio is ideal.
  • Transportation: Encourage attendees to carpool, take the Marguerite shuttle or use alternate transportation to get to campus. Consider public transportation schedules and peak travel times when scheduling the start and end times for your event.


Coordinate your efforts.

It is often useful to nominate one group leader to oversee the implementation of your green event plan. The coordinator will oversee the “Green” elements of your plan, as well as be on hand during the event to be sure that processes such as recycling and composting efforts are maximized.


Confirm your vendors and resources.

After making your “Green” plan, select vendors and event supplies that fit your strategy.


Follow thru.

Before, during, and after your event, be sure to take time to examine and reflect on your “Green” efforts. After your “Green” event, share your knowledge and contacts with other groups on campus to help spread the word.

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Campus Initiatives

If you have comments, suggestions, or would like to help volunteer please contact:

Fahmida Ahmed, Manager, Sustainability Programs , 650-721-1518 for campus-wide initiatives

David Geeter, Students for a Sustainable Stanford, for student volunteers

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