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How can we reduce the environmental effects of the Summer Institute?

Read on to find out what we are doing to reduce our environmental and carbon footprint at this year's Summer Institute. You will also find some tips below for reducing the impact of your travel to and from events like this one. We invite your feedback on how we can produce a better Summer Institute generally, and our environmental and emissions effects are no exception. Please contact us with your suggestions

What are we doing?

Carbon Neutral—The Summer Institute will calculate the overall emissions produced by the event, and will purchase Gold Standard certified carbon offsets. While offsetting does not by itself reduce our emissions, it enables us to support the reduction of an equivalent amount of emissions elsewhere. This is a way of acknowledging one of the costs of our activities. While we are attempting to reduce emissions due to the event itself, the principal source of emissions is participants' travel. As such, the Summer Institute will offset the emissions from participants travel to and from Mont-Sainte-Anne.
Note: We have now purchased carbon offsets from Planetair. The total calculated emissions were 149.64 metric Tonnes CO2e. Over 90% of the emissions were due to travel to and from the event. Click here to visit Planetair's website.


Based on a survey of standards and offset providers, we opted to purchase Gold Standard certified offsets. Among the many reasons that led us to select the Gold Standard, the key criteria that this standard employs include a focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency, sustainable development goals for local economies, and replacement of carbon-based energy systems.


Choice of SiteThe Château Mont-Sainte-Anne was consciously selected as a venue for its emphasis on local and organic food, energy and resource conservation, waste reduction, recycling programs and responsible purchasing.

(To see what specific measures the Château Mont-Sainte-Anne has adopted, please visit their site at:  accessed April 24, 2009)

Using Less Paper—We have reduced the amount of paper consumed by producing web-based newsletters, online registration, an online preliminary program, and web/ teleconference-based event planning. Our main paper use will be for one shorter (12 page) final program for each participant, printed on 100% recycled stock. 

We will follow-up with participants after the Summer Institute by providing links to online versions of all presentations.

Buying Locally—Presenters will receive locally-produced gifts, and participants will receive reusable bags. The bags are made in Quebec by Alterna Eco-Solutions, an enterprise with a social and environmental mandate.

Collective Transport—For transportation to and from the airport and train station, and for the free night in Québec City, collective transport has been organized and will be available at a reasonable cost.

Three Rs—We will be emphasizing the three Rs: reducing, re-using and recycling during the event. This will be seen in, for example, the use of water pitchers rather than bottled water, the visible presence of recycling containers, etc.


What Can You Do?

 If you do fly:

  • Book a direct flight whenever possible,
  • Carry less baggage,
  • Fly in the daytime,       
  • Fly economy class,
  • Use your flights to perform other jobs as well. For example, arrange another meeting before or after the Summer Institute and save yourself from having to travel more than necessary. 

(If you do fly: these tips are adapted from those found on the David Suzuki Foundation website, at Consulted April 17, 2009)

For example, if you travel from Toronto, a return flight to Québec City produces .35 tonnes of CO2 equivalents (with stops in Montréal, the emissions increase to .38 tonnes). If you choose to take the train instead, the emissions are reduced to .15 tonnes for the same round-trip.

(Air: calculator from Planetair, at  
Train: calculator from CarbonZero, at  both sites consulted April 17, 2009)


If you drive to the event, carpool. It costs less and with every additional passenger you reduce the overall impact of travel.


Use the shuttle buses. Check the Ground Transportation page on this website to find out when the shuttle buses are scheduled to run from the Airport to the Château and Conference Centre. This will save you taxi costs and reduce emissions.


Use your USB key at the event. This way, you can collect work that interests you and download a copy directly without collecting printed material.


Tell us what you think of our efforts. How can we improve? What have we done well? If you appreciate something we have done, let the organizers know so that it can be repeated or improved upon next year.