Sustainable Business Travel: 10 Tips for Greener Corporate Trips

December 30, 2022

The world has reopened for travel, making out-of-town meetings and conferences a viable and valuable opportunity for organizations once again.

But there’s a downside: business travel creates a massive amount of carbon emissions that contribute significantly to climate change. 

So, as organizations around the world prioritize environmental stewardship and pursue net-zero initiatives, making business travel more sustainable should be a key piece of their strategies. 

Here are ten small steps you can take to make corporate travel more sustainable. 

1. Fly Direct

Using civil aviation organization data, researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) determined that direct travel is less damaging to the environment, producing approximately 100 kilograms less carbon dioxide per person per flight than connecting routes. 

For context, this is equivalent to the emissions produced by operating a refrigerator for an entire year. 

Choosing direct flights over connecting journeys, whenever possible, is an easy way to reduce the environmental impact of your business trip.  

2. Consider Economy Class

The center aisle of an airplane

You might not think your selection of seats on an airplane makes a difference when it comes to carbon emissions. After all, once a plane is in the air, its environmental impact is already solidified.

But, as you might’ve noticed in the previous section, aircraft emissions are calculated on a per person basis.

Based on these measurements, experts have calculated that the CO2 footprint of first-class seats is approximately four times greater than economy seats

This is because first-class or business-class seats take up more space and add more weight on the plane—many of which sit empty on long-haul flights. 

So, by purchasing economy class seats rather than first-class or business-class, you can cut down the emissions produced by your flight while also saving money on ticket prices. 

3. Fly the “Greenest” Airlines 

Depending on the destination of your travels, you can intentionally opt to fly with “greener” airlines. 

German non-profit Atmosfair created a comprehensive list ranking the world’s airlines in terms of carbon efficiency, doling out ratings of A through E (with A being the most efficient), alongside incredibly detailed statistics.

Canada’s main airlines were included: 

  • Air Transat and Air Canada, ranking 26th and 32nd, respectively, were given a C rating
  • WestJet received a D rating
  • Jazz Aviation was given an E rating 

While it’s not always possible to exercise selectivity with airlines, doing so when you have the opportunity allows you to make more environmentally-conscious travel choices while also using company dollars to support green air carriers. 

4. Travel During the Day 

A woman walking with her suitcase towards a transit hub

According to David Suzuki, studies in sustainable travel show that daytime flights cause less impact on climate.

This is attributable to the fact that cirrus clouds and contrails—the line-shaped clouds you see behind airplanes that are caused by exhaust or changes in air pressure—trap heat, in turn causing extra warming.

However, this mostly happens at night because, during the daytime, they also reflect sunlight back into space, counteracting the heat-trapping effect.

5. Connect Multiple Stops

Whenever possible, try to schedule business trips in sequence so you can go from one destination to the other without returning home first. 

Taking direct flights between destinations significantly cuts back on the time and distance traveled and can have an exponential effect on reducing the emissions generated by your trip. 

6. Carry-On Only 

Heavier planes require more fuel to operate. So, less weight equals less fuel burned. Pack light for your next business trip, aiming for carry-on baggage only. This 

This will also save you the hassle of waiting around and wasting time at the baggage carousel.

7. Purchase Carbon Offsets

In reality, offsetting carbon emissions for traveling doesn’t solve our environmental problems. It doesn’t do anything to eliminate carbon from the atmosphere. 

However, it’s a great way to equivalently compensate for the emissions produced during your travels through financial donations to sustainable projects like education, reforestation, renewable energy projects, and tourism. 

For Canadian professionals and businesses looking to do so, the David Suzuki Foundation has created a guide for how to purchase carbon offsets in Canada, as well as a ranking of the top 20 offset vendors, locally and globally. 

8. Find Eco-Friendly Hotels and Workspaces

a group of people working in a lounge area in a coworking space

When booking your accommodations, look for hotels that have sustainability measures in place, such as green roof technology, automatic shut-offs on lights and air-conditioners, local and on-site food sources, and water conservation programs. 

One way to ensure you’re selecting environmentally-friendly accommodation is to book with hotels that have attained LEED Certification—the most widely used global standard that recognizes buildings that are efficient, cost-effective, and better for occupants and the environment.

And if you’re planning to work while you’re on the road, look for flexible workspaces that are environmentally conscious.

At And-Co, our mandate is to operate sustainably in every facet of our business. Get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more. 

9. Go Digital with Travel Documents 

Airports and hotels worldwide accept digital tickets, boarding passes, booking confirmations, and more. 

Rather than printing your boarding passes and itineraries, opt for digital alternatives to reduce waste.

There are also a ton of app-based itinerary management tools available that can help you stay organized while you’re on the road. 

10. Eat Local 

People clinking their cocktails to cheers

Even your eating habits while you’re on the road can have a positive correlation with environmental well-being. 

Eating at restaurants with locally-sourced foods means there was less energy used to transport the products from farm to table. 

For example, NOX, And-Co’s in-house restaurant, creates its dishes using a mix of traditional Italian goods and local ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest. 

When the pandemic forced a halt to commuting and travel, global carbon dioxide emissions fell by seven percent in a single year—and the planet reaped the benefits. While those levels most likely aren’t sustainable under normal circumstances, this reduction showed that we reduce our impact on the environment if we take steps to live, work, and travel more sustainably. 

If you’re in search of a modern, full-service, and flexible workspace and community with sustainability at its core, book a tour of And-Co today.

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