McGill Sustainable Events Certification

McGill Sustainable Events

The McGill Sustainable Events certification program is an initiative from the Office of Sustainability that provides consultations, trainings, and resources to encourage and support more responsible events at McGill.

The program focuses on events' environmental impact (carbon footprint, waste management), inclusivity (diversity of organizers, programming, and participants), and accessibility (reducing barriers).

The McGill Sustainable Events Team helps raise awareness of sustainable best practices for event planners at McGill and helps to reduce material waste generated by events on campus.

How can I certify my event? 

  1. To certify your in-person or virtual event, start by downloading the File Sustainable Events Certification Checklist
  2. Fill out the checklist and email your completed checklist to events.sustainability [at] It is okay if you do not have all the answers yet, or if some of your responses are tentative! Please be sure to:
    • Submit your completed checklist at least 3-4 weeks before your event.
    • Include the name and date(s) of your event in your email subject line.
    • Indicate what size of event you are certifying.
    • Let us know if you have previously completed certifications with our team. After multiple certifications, the process to certify your event is streamlined. 
  3. The McGill Sustainable Events Team will invite you to book a consultation meeting with one of our student volunteer Event Consultants to go over the checklist action points and answer any questions you may have. 
  4. Once your sustainable commitments have been confirmed, your Event Consultant will finalize your event's score and send you the appropriate seals for you to promote your efforts. 

Certification Levels

The certification level is attributed on a points-based model using the following percentages of points obtained.

Bronze: 50-75% • Silver: 75-90% • Gold: 90% or above
Platinum: 95% or above AND at least three of the following five actions:

1 - You calculate carbon emissions related to transportation and purchase carbon offsets.
2 - Only vegan and vegetarian options are available; no meat is served at all.
3 - Event uses only reusable dishware and/or invites participants to bring their own dishware.
4 - Both organic waste and recycling are available, and bins are clearly identified.
5 - The event is zero-waste. No material waste is produced and/or participant are invited to bring their own materials.

Virtual Events: Virtual events receive their Sustainable Event certification when they reach 80% of the available points or above.

Program Evaluation (2017-2020)

To learn more about McGill Sustainable Events, read our PDF icon Three Year Program Report

  • Program History
  • By the Numbers: May 2017-April 2020
  • Facts & Figures
  • Program Recognition
  • Program Achievements 

Sustainable Event Checklist Resources

Get Involved as an Event Consultant

Are you a student interested in becoming a volunteer? 

As a volunteer with the Sustainable Events Consultant team, you will liaise with event organizers in the McGill community to ensure that they are organized in the most sustainable way possible. By utilizing both online and print resources, you will help event organizers gain access to knowledge about sustainable resources, and help ensure best practices at events.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which events have been certified in the past?

Bronze certified events:

  • Opthalmology Conference
  • 8th Edith Aston-McCrimmon Lectureship
  • Prof Talks at MESS
  • PhotoFund Gallery and Silent Auction
  • SEDTalks!
  • Trottier Annual Symposium
  • Artruism
  • The Dean of Students Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Academic Advising
  • Making a Martlet

Silver certified events:

  • RVH Consultation
  • Civil Engineering Conference
  • Solin Hall(oween) Party
  • RSN Launch Speaker Series: Sustainable Urbanism
  • Global Health Film Festival
  • International Development Policy Case Competition
  • National Integrative Research Conference
  • PlantBioMech 2018
  • Off-Campus Connects (OCX)
  • McGill Management Frosh
  • Discover McGill
  • MSSI Annual Symposium
  • 19th Annual Pow Wow
  • SSMU Activities Night
  • Macdonald Campus Homecoming
  • Beatty Lecture with Jane Goodall 

Gold certified events:

  • Catalyst Awards Gala 2017 & 2018
  • SKILLS21 Welcome Event
  • Vision 2020 Launch
  • Zero Waste 100 Solutions Case Competition
  • Civil Engineering Conference
  • Sustainability in Higher Education Canada (SHECA) 2018
  • PGSS BBQ Orientation
  • Engineering Frosh Park Party
  • Open House 2019
  • McGill Health Fair 2019
  • Discover McGill 2019
  • Spring Convocation 2019

When should I reach out to get my event certified?

The earlier the better! This will give you the ability to bring more changes following our first discussion. Please try to get in touch with us at least 3-4 weeks before the event to allow a consultant to meet with you in time for your event. We cannot guarantee that events can complete the certification process if the checklist is submitted less than 3 weeks in advance.

If my event is next week, can I get certified?

We cannot guarantee that events can complete the certification process if the checklist is submitted less than 3 weeks in advance. The consultation meetings offered by our team of student volunteer Event Consultants can fill up several weeks in advance. We also ask to have this process started with enough time to give event planners a chance to incorporate suggested action points to increase the sustainability of their event.

Is there a cost to the McGill Sustainable Events service?

No, the service is offered freely to all members of the McGill community.

I’m worried my event will not have a very high score; should I still participate?

Yes! We recognize that McGill has a wide range of events and that some of them will encounter more challenges than others. We encourage event planners to promote their certification as much as possible and aim for year-to-year improvements. Reporting your performance and raising awareness of the importance of the topics are the first and most important steps. 

Can I talk to a consultant without getting my event certified?

Yes. We encourage everyone to get certified as a way to benchmark results for year on year improvements, but the consultants can also sit down with you to answer questions, provide recommendations, and point out useful resources. If this is your case, please send us an email at events.sustainability [at]

Is there a minimum or maximum event size?

No, there is no minimum or maximum. 

I think my event will be quite unsustainable, is it still worth sitting down with a consultant?

Yes. The most unsustainable events are the ones that offer the greatest possibilities of improvements, and are definitely worth being discussed. Our consultants are not there to judge you, but to assist you in making your event more accessible, inclusive, and reduce its environmental footprint.

If you think your event will be outstandingly sustainable, the certification might be a great way to highlight your efforts, benchmark your efforts, and keep aiming higher. We are also always open to learning more and would be happy to know which initiatives you have taken over the years. The certification may also be a great way encourage other connected events to get certified. 

My event will likely be located elsewhere than at McGill, can I still get it certified?

Most likely. Events hosted by a McGill body can get certified. If you are unsure, please send us an email at events.sustainability [at] so we can evaluate how we can best help you.

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