Online VS Offline Conference

Make science not CO2!

It’s often assumed that moving an event online will produce less CO2 than an equivalent one held in person, but just how true is this? Research by RemotelyGreen so far suggests it can reduce emissions by 96%, but this depends on the length and location of the in-person event, and how far people have to travel, while computing hardware and server power can have sizable implications for online events, particularly if the power doesn’t come from a sustainable source.So in order to validate this we created a python program taking the details of a online meeting as inputs and producing the resulting CO2 as an output.

While video conferencing is often viewed as a greener alternative to physically travelling to meet in person, it has its own energy, carbon dioxide and time costs. Here we present the analysis of the total cost of videoconferencing, including operating costs of the network and videoconferencing equipment, lifecycle assessment of equipment costs, and the time cost of people involved in meetings. We compare these costs to the corresponding costs for in-person meetings, which include operating and lifecycle costs of vehicles and the costs of participant time. 

While the costs of these meeting forms depend on many factors such as distance travelled, meeting duration, and the technologies used, we find that videoconferencing takes at most 7% of the energy/carbon of an in-person meeting.

Technologies used

Python, Anaconda, jupyter notebooks, Github and above all Internet.


We had a great difficulty in  finding the most appropriate example to validate our model.
Also It was pretty hard to calculate energy emitted by each and every electronic device used for an online meeting.
The main difficulty we faced was the time zones, as it was a struggle to organise schedules and calls with team members in the UK, India and Nepal.


First of all we are proud of participating in such an exciting web fest and having  a great interaction with like-minded people around the globe.
Showing the demo kind of implies that that's what we're proud of and also contributing to the environment through this project makes us more responsible and proud.
We are proud of our teamwork and that we have managed to produce a working prototype for the videoconference carbon dioxide calculator.

  • We have learnt a lot about the different contributions to the co2 emissions of videoconferences;
  • We also learnt that Video conferences could actually help over in person meetings in terms of environmental damage caused;
  • We have learnt lots about the different contributions to the co2 emissions of videoconferences and improved on our python. Before the hackathon we assumed videoconferences had a carbon output near to zero. This weekend has shown us that, while still low, the co2 produced is significant.
Next steps

If we were to continue with this project, we’d create a website to host the calculator, and work on more accurate calculation of the CO2 emitted from an equivalent in person conference. 

Future work could consider the complex relationship between the efficiency of using video for communication (i.e. time overhead in videoconferencing), travel time and meeting duration to enable a more detailed analysis of the cost differences for both meeting modes.

One-minute video