If energy-saving efforts are part of your organization’s objectives, then you should consider going green with eLearning.

It’s common sense to look at reducing your carbon footprint by means of energy-saving equipment, but an area that often gets overlooked as a tie-in is that of training.

Going green with eLearning not only helps your business reduce costs over time, but also reduces negative impacts on the environment by removing the need for hard copy materials, extensive travel, space rental, and more. This should make the environmentalist in you smile.

Let’s look at each of these areas more specifically to see how eLearning can really impact a business and add to its green initiatives.

Hard Copy Materials

Training administered in a traditional format often requires a heavy binder, a course book, or a workbook for each and every student. Sometimes, it requires all three. That’s a lot of paper (not to mention cost.)

Let’s dive in to the numbers for those hard copy materials.

Say the average course binder for a student has about 250 pages. Even if you only have 15 students, you’re at 3,750 pages. That’s 7.5 reams of paper.

If you need to update only a single section of information, you’ll often have to order a complete re-print of the course binder. Quite a bit of waste, don’t you think?

The other factor to consider with these hard copy materials is how often they are referred to after the course is over. Ask yourself, “Will this binder just sit on a shelf gathering dust for the next 5 years until it gets thrown out?”

eLearning solution: Using an electronic form of training like eLearning means as long as a user has access to the right equipment, there’s a much lower need for printed materials. Plus, eLearning is easily updated and edited (with no need for costly re-prints.) Finally, on-demand eLearning allows trainees to access their trainings with a few clicks, making it faster and easier to tap in to information.


Instructor and student travel expenses can add up quickly—especially if the training requires staying overnight for a multi-day course.

Again, let’s look at the numbers.

Say it takes two full tanks of gasoline to get to and from the training location (assuming average gas tank is 13 gallons.) According to the EPA’s greenhouse gas calculator, these two gas tanks worth of travel require six tree seedlings grown for 10 years for full sequestration.

That means that to balance your carbon footprint, you’d have to plant 90 seedlings to accommodate a 15-person training class (and then let them grow for 10 years!)

eLearning solution: Computer-based training can often be completed in-house, which means no travel or overnight stays required. That’s fewer carbon emissions for your business, and fewer travel expenses to reimburse. Win-win!

Space Rental

Renting out space at a conference center or hotel is not only costly, but it means you’re responsible for the heating/cooling costs and electricity of that space, too.

Again: What are the numbers for this?

A typical training room that holds 15 students from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. would create 1.7 tons of carbon dioxide. That’s almost 4,000 extra pounds of carbon dioxide, for one day of training! Is it worth it?

eLearning solution: When eLearning can be administered to an employee right at his or her desk, there are no additional emissions produced as a result of having to move to an external space. Again, that also means no costly space rental.

Going Green with eLearning: A Positive Choice

Not only does eLearning help reduce your carbon footprint, but it helps create a positive image for your company brand.

Your green efforts can be leveraged in your PR outreach and should make you and your employees feel proud of your commitment to being a responsible, environmentally minded team.