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Four days, more than 171,000 registered attendees, and an enormous opportunity to connect with Salesforce community, learn and bring new ideas forward: That’s what Dreamforce is all about. But, Dreamforce is much more than just an enormous tech conference – it brings like-minded, values-driven companies together to discuss the most pressing challenges businesses face. That includes sustainability. And at an event this large, the environmental footprint and opportunity to elevate sustainability can’t be overlooked.
“At Salesforce, we believe the environment is a key stakeholder and are committed to delivering bold climate solutions that drive the change the planet needs,” says Salesforce Director of Sustainability, Sunya Norman. “Dreamforce is an opportunity to show we’re putting on not just another conference, but a true immersive experience that hopefully leaves people thinking a bit differently about sustainability than when they walked through the door.”
Here are four distinct ways that Salesforce is elevating sustainability at Dreamforce 2019.
1. We’re reducing dependence on fossil fuels with alternative transportation options. Salesforce has encouraged attendees to walk, bike or take public transportation to and from Dreamforce since the first edition in 2003. We’ve featured a free bike valet for several years, and shuttle buses have ferried attendees to and from more than 100 partner hotels back and forth to San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Salesforce offsets employee travel carbon emissions to Dreamforce, and has partnered with Cool Effect to offer attendees quick and wallet-friendly ways to offset their own travel by contributing to projects around the world that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This year, we’re taking an extra step with our shuttle program by working with global refiner Neste to convert more than 25 buses to vehicles that run on Neste MY Renewable Diesel. In doing so, we’ll reduce up to 80% of greenhouse emissions.
2. We’re reducing more waste than ever thanks to a continued emphasis on composting, reusable and recyclable materials, and employee participation. Trade shows typically require huge amounts of materials to create signage, displays, food packaging, and more. Some estimates put the figure as high as 600,000 pounds of waste per year generated by American trade shows.
Salesforce is cognizant of that, especially given the enormous scope of Dreamforce.
“We rent and reuse a lot of the amazing structures you see onsite at Dreamforce, says Sustainability Program Manager Julie Moorad. “For anything else, we try to ensure that the “waste” has a home that isn’t the landfill after the show. We work with more than 20 local Bay Area partners to donate much of what might otherwise be left behind, like plants, signage, and installations.”
In keeping with that spirit, 100% of all lunch packaging at Dreamforce is compostable, saving thousands of pounds of waste from ending up in landfills. Additionally, Salesforce will again run an internal program we call Green Angels: More than 150 employee volunteers will be on hand to help attendees sort their waste properly in the hundreds of landfill, recycling and compost bins throughout the event to support San Francisco’s Zero Waste by 2020 goal.
“The true magic of Dreamforce is that we have attendees from all over the globe with a different understanding of sustainability and how it affects their lives,” says Norman. “Our green team is a critical piece of helping attendees understand the way we think about the power of this event, how we’re putting it on, and how they can be a part of that.”
Additionally, we’re focusing on one key giveaway for full-conference attendees to reduce our impact on the Dreamforce campus. Salesforce is partnering with Salesforce customer Cupanion to eliminate the need for single-use plastic water bottles, distributing reusable, shatter-resistant bottles to all full-pass employees, and conserving 100,000+ single-use plastic bottles in doing so. This isn’t a new initiative, says Salesforce Manager of Strategic Events Samantha Rohman, but it’s a huge part of trying to change people’s mindset – especially given that many Dreamforce attendees are visiting from places that may not be as ecologically progressive.
But it’s about more than just the bottle. Attendees can also help support clean water initiatives in Tanzania thanks to a partnership between Salesforce Events, Cupanion’s Fill It Forward initiative, and WaterAid’s Tanzania Deliver Life Program. By scanning their bottles at the filling stations around Dreamforce, attendees help fund a water infrastructure project – this year, a Rainwater Harvesting System in Bugulula, Tanzania, supporting 8,000+ people. This initiative focuses on a local dispensary to address maternal, newborn, and child mortality in the village, impacting the entire community that typically sees 27 to 30 babies delivered per month. With every scan using the Fill it Forward app, Cupanion makes a donation toward Community Staff Training and Education to make the project a reality.
3. We’re conserving water by going beefless. Beef has one of the highest water footprints – that is, the amount of water required to supply and produce it – of any food we eat. For several years, Dreamforce featured a day when beef was off the lunch menu. Last year, we took that a step further and eliminated beef entirely from the lunches we served around the event and at the welcome reception. We’ll take that step again in 2019, conserving over nine million gallons of water in the process.
4. We’re continuing to spotlight environmental Trailblazers with our second annual Climate Summit. As climate change has become a more urgent issue in recent years, many leaders in both the public and private sector have stepped forward with potential solutions and platforms to have meaningful discussions. Salesforce has been fortunate enough to capture that in the Dreamforce programming, according to Vice President of Strategic Event Operations and Production Catherine Simmons.
“With a heightened global awareness around sustainability, it was important for us to bring that to our attendees, and one of the tools we can leverage is our keynotes,” she says. “We were fortunate enough to get former Vice President Al Gore to speak in 2018, and that was a great jumping-off point for a standalone Climate Summit.”
The inaugural Climate Summit was a big success not just thanks to Gore’s well-received keynote, but also additional sessions that featured renowned marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle and actor and environmental activist Adrian Grenier, among others. The second annual Climate Summit at Dreamforce 2019 is just as promising, with a focus on youth activism, food systems and climate justice, and the importance of forests and oceans to our planet. Speakers include Samin Nosrat, host and executive producer of Netflix’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat series, thrice Michelin starred chef Dominique Crenn, Secretary General of the YMCA Carlos Sanvee, and prominent youth activists amidst other environmental trailblazers.
“Dreamforce is all about talking about the issues that are most top of mind for today’s business leaders, and the environment and sustainability are very much up there,” says Norman. “As we saw from the World Economic Forum Global Risks report, business leaders are grappling with environmental challenges–from extreme weather and climate change to environmental policy and the accelerating pace of biodiversity loss–that are going to have significant economic and social impact on every business, organization and person on the planet.”
For more information on how Salesforce is supporting sustainability efforts at the event, check out this guide to sustainability at Dreamforce.