Summit Sustainability Management

Summit Sustainability Results Report


The Global Climate Action Summit is committed to reducing the environmental impact of the Summit event and building a legacy of sustainability in the event venues, throughout the City of San Francisco, and for future global conferences. The organizing team has worked to develop and implement a sustainable events strategy in accordance with best practices in event sustainability by demonstrating compliance to the ISO 20121 Event Sustainability Management Systems standard. Through detailed documentation of processes and tracking of results, the management system is designed for continual improvement so that the lessons learned from the Summit will allow for future events to build upon this set of sustainability initiatives and measure success year-over-year. The strategy focuses on key impact areas that significantly affect the overall environmental footprint of the Summit. Each impact area has been mapped to the corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the icons listed below each section. Additionally, through a comprehensive educational campaign all delegates will learn how they can reduce their own environmental impact and witness sustainability strategies in action.

To download the Sustainability Road Map, please click here.

Impact Areas

ISO 20121
The Summit will be audited for compliance to ISO 20121, a management system standard that was designed to help event-oriented organizations incorporate sustainability into their activities and productions. The international standard was developed and released prior to the London 2012 Olympics and prescribes a management system approach that can help any event-related organization reduce its environmental footprint and become more socially responsible, while maintaining the viability of the event.


The main conference venue, the Moscone Center, is currently undergoing an extensive renovation with a goal of LEED Platinum Certification. It has been working independently to institute long-term sustainability measures on site, including the installation of high-performance glazing with low emissivity glass to maximize natural light, the most energy-efficient lighting fixtures, and the City’s largest municipally owned solar photovoltaic system. The majority of the official venues, including the Moscone Center, utilize 100% GHG-free Hetch Hetchy hydroelectricity from San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Carbon Footprint
The planning efforts focus on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of the event as much as possible, including selecting venues that are powered by local, GHG-free utilities. Where emissions are unavoidable, the carbon footprint will be measured to encapsulate all event-related emissions and verified carbon offset projects will be supported to fully compensate for those emissions.

The organizing offices are centrally located in an Energy Star, LEED Gold Certified building at the hub of the city’s mass transit lines, with a Walk Score of 98/100 and a Transit Score of 100/100.

All contracted hotels are participating in the California Green Lodging Program, demonstrating their strong commitment to divert waste from landfills, conserve energy and water, and establish environmental leadership across their operations.

A comprehensive waste minimization and recovery plan is in place at all official venues with a goal of diverting 85 percent of event-related waste from the landfill. This plan includes a comprehensive food recovery, donation, recycling, and composting program with the assistance of the zero waste teams at each venue.

Sustainable sourcing, reuse, and reduction of materials is prioritized for every facet of event planning and production. Materials used will be measured, tracked, and reused or donated to community organizations and schools at the conclusion of the event. For decor, the Summit is featuring drought-resistant, native species from local nurseries that will be donated for planting in San Francisco Carbon Fund sites post-event.

The catering service will feature California-grown, farm-fresh meals. The climate-friendly menus will be designed with a local sourcing goal of 75% of ingredients sourced from within a 200-mile radius. All meals will be served on reusable dishware and no single-use disposable packaging will be offered. Delegates will enjoy high-quality, great tasting water from the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System via tap water stations throughout the venue using their reusable American-made Summit bottles. Through an active food recovery effort, any excess meals will be donated to local nonprofit organizations.


From arrival to departure at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), to getting around the city and attending the Summit, delegates will have many options to minimize their transportation footprint. Not only has SFO curtailed its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 33% from a 1990 baseline, the airport set aggressive 2021 targets for zero waste, zero carbon emissions and zero net energy. The Summit Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Fleet of delegate shuttles, speaker transport, and production vehicles will feature 100% all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The main conference venue, the Moscone Center, is located in close proximity to the designated delegate hotels. Additionally, the venue is accessible via BART, CalTrain, and Muni Metro, in addition to the city’s bikeshare program.


Community Education & Engagement
As part of the Summit, businesses, governments, NGOs, arts and music organizations, academic institutions, and others are hosting affiliate events throughout the week of the Summit, September 10 – 14, 2018. These events provide an opportunity to create additional arenas for exploring climate challenges and solutions that complement Summit activities. Affiliate events range from panel discussions and workshops to exhibits and installations. More information about affiliate events can be found here.