Sustainable Event Certification BadgeSustainable Event Certification Program

Improve your event sustainability and receive a certification badge for completing concrete steps in food, waste, purchasing, accessibility, and other sustainability metrics.  Designed for events large and small, the Sustainable Event Certification program helps create a culture of low-impact event planning at Cornell.

Glass jars with event food next to a reusable sign, demonstrating how to reduce waste at an event
An example of zero-waste food demonstrates how small changes to event planning can make a big sustainability impact. 

Certify Your Event

Certification is easy, with two options for event organizers.  Even if you have been implementing sustainable event practices for years, please consider filling out the self-certification form for your events. Remember, gaining certification for your event helps us track and share outstanding examples with the campus community.

Single or recurring events of any size can be certified.

How to Certify

  • Browse the Sustainable Event Guide below for tips on how to improve waste, food, and more at your event

  • Need help? Contact us for support before your event

  • Ready to certify? Before your event, fill out the Event Certification Form

  • After a fast review by the Campus Sustainability Office, receive your certification and badge for use in event advertising to demonstrate your department or club's commitment to sustainability

✓ Event Consultation

I need help with my event

We're here to help. Set up a free 30-minute consultation with the Campus Sustainability Office.  Our team will walk you through options for making your event more sustainable. We will automatically certify your event if you choose at least two actions in each category.

Event Consultation

✓ Self-Certification

My event is ready to certify

You have taken steps to make your event more sustainable - congratulations! Fill out the certification form to receive an event certification badge.  Fill out the form prior to an event to use the badge in advertising, or after an event to help us track progress on campus.

Event Certification Form

Two Certifications Available

Use the certification guide to select your sustainable event choices, then apply here for certification.

Sustainable Event Certification Badge
Sustainable Event Certification

Event implements five or more actions from any category 

Platinum Sustainable Event Badge
Platinum Event Certification

Event implements ten or more actions from any category

Event Planning Resources

Sustainable Event Guide

Download a PDF checklist with suggested event actions
and resource links to help you plan your sustainable event.

Sustainable Catering & Vendor List

Database with recommendations for
local sustainable food and catering providers.

Sustainable Event Guide

  • Natural Lighting

  • The event location has natural light. 

  • Access & Use of Alternative Transportation

  • The event location allows attendees to easily use sustainable transportation options, by being close to a TCAT stop, encouraging attendees to use on-site bike parking, or ensuring walkability and/or wheelchair accessibility.  This credit can also be used if the event has organized alternative transportation for event attendees to and from hotel or multiple event sites, such as arranging for a bus from one location on campus to another or paying for a TCAT bus ticket

  • Minimize Transportation Distance

  • Events requiring an overnight stay have provided or recommended local accommodations to reduce travel, or, have found other ways to reduce the use of fuel and transportation for event attendees, vendors, or supplies.

  • Remote Participation

  • Attendees can attend the event virtually, or the event was made fully virtual to reduce resource use.

  • Offset Event Transportation

  • Event organizers calculated the carbon footprint of event attendees to and from the location, and purchased carbon offsets from the Finger Lakes Climate Offset Fund or other carbon offset providers to fully offset the event.



  • Sustainability Recognition 

  • Once certified, the event notifies event attendees of its status as a Sustainable Certified or Platinum Certified Event.

  • Adhere to Printing Guidelines

  • The event marketing prints according to certain sustainable standards, including: designing reusable printed materials (i.e.,  papers do not have one-time dates and slogans), printed materials are not laminated to ensure that paper can be recycled, materials are printed double-sided, and the print size is reduced from full page to half/quarter sheets.



  • Eliminates Unnecessary Event Purchases

  • The event does not supply unnecessary swag, "freebies", personalized merchandise, or giveaways. 

  • Purchased Items Adhere to Sustainability Criteria 

  • Event organizers only purchase items that are long-lasting, reusable, useful to event attendees, and  produced with sustainable materials in a sustainable/ethical way.

  • Sustainable Vendors are Prioritized

  • The event makes any necessary purchasing through vendors with reliable dedication to sustainable practices. Eco Promotions and ChicoBag are two potential sustainable vendors.



  • Buffet or Bite-Size Serving

  • The event eliminates or minimizes the use of single-use packaging by serving the food buffet-style or offering bite-size and finger food. 

    • Serving tip: If served with napkins, bite-size and finger foods can easily be composted.

  • Reusable Serving Materials

  • The event organizers ensure that the catering vendor will supply reusable plates and serving materials. If the caterer cannot offer this service, event organizers work with Dish Truck to set up arrangement between the catering service.

  • Event Attendees Supply Reusable Tableware

  • Events attendees bring their own reusable tableware, including: plates, utensils, bottles, mugs, or cups.

    • To encourage event attendees to to bring reusable items, pre-event communication could say: "In an effort to reduce single-use waste at this event, we encourage everyone to consider bring their own [insert reusable item] to enjoy the food and beverages."

  • Avoid Over-Ordering

  • Event organizers avoid food waste by paying careful attention to only purchasing the minimum amount of food, based on expected event attendance.

  • Event Attendees Take Home Leftovers

  • Event organizers encourage event attendees to take any leftovers home at the end of the event.

    • To encourage this behavior, pre-event communication could say: "In an effort to reduce food waste at this event, we encourage everyone to bring empty tupperware so that any leftover food can be taken home at the end of the event.

  • Food Redistribution Plan

  • Event organizers contact the Friendship Donation Network (FDN) if the event has anticipated or unexpected leftover food. Individually box/wrapped foods and potentially buffet-style foods can be accepted. Alternately, the free food GroupMe allows for leftover food to be advertised to a network of Cornell-based individuals.

  • Bulk Drink

  • The event serves beverages in bulk containers and encourages the use of reusable cups/bottles/mugs.

    • To encourage event attendees to bring their own reusable cups/bottles/mugs, pre-event communication could say: "In an effort to reduce single-use waste at this event, we encourage everyone to consider brining their own reusable bottle, mug, or cup. Beverages will be served in bulk throughout the event."

  • Coordinate Waste Disposal

  • Event organizers request proper waste bins through R5. Julie Parsons (Facilities Management on the Event Management Planning Team) can be contacted at or 607-255-3751.

  • Composting

  • Large-scale events coordinate with Cornell Compost ( to arrange compost bins and pickups. A minimum of three weeks advance notice is required. 

  • Prevent Waste Contamination

  • Event organizers print and post well-labeled signs for any landfill, recycling, and compost bins at the event.