Greenbuild has got me thinking about green exhibiting

I came across the link to the upcoming Greenbuild 2012 show in San Francisco and I found myself thinking about any changes, developments or advances when it comes to green exhibiting.  
Yes, we are an exhibit house and I feel like it is our responsibility to be a leader in this space, but like everyone else we have to keep educating ourselves.  
So...curious and excited, I did some research.

To be honest I did not come across anything that was as amazing as I had hoped.  However, I was still happy to find that there are more and more options for, and suppliers of:

  • Recycled Aluminum Extrusions

  • Bamboo products (flooring/infill panels)

  • water-based, low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound), and VOC Free stains and paints

  • Fabrics made from recycled materials

  • Graphics that are recycled, recyclable, or made from recycled pop bottles

  • Eco-glass (made from 100% recycled material) instead of acrylic

  • Eco-carpets

  • LED lighting instead of incandescents, fluorescents or halogens

  • Refurbishing existing exhibits

  • Recycling retired exhibit components

(to our blog readers - please feel free to share any green products for exhibits or trade shows that I have not yet had the pleasure of coming across)

You can check out other eco-friendly exhibit products from Exhibitor Online's 'Green Gallery' 

My feeling is that there are MORE products to choose from today - but I think it's how you manage your exhibit program as a whole that will have a bigger impact. 
I don't mean to sound cynical but I think 'going green' is much more of a lifestyle choice - and not so much about a single eco-friendly bannerstand.  That is why I think what Tom Bowman is promoting with his company  Bowman Global Change is the way we need to take on our green initiatives, they "...help organizations make sustainable transformations."

How can I talk about green initiatives and not bring up costs. I read a comment a U.S. exhibitor wrote about green exhibiting and he said that the only 'green' people see is the additional money they have to spend.  The Exhibitor Magazine survey confirms this:


'In 2007, 73 percent of exhibitors reported they would pay at least a 5-percent premium for Green alternatives, compared to only 60 percent in 2011. Furthermore, the generally higher cost associated with Green materials topped respondents' list of primary obstacles in their path toward going Green, followed closely by the challenges of a weak economy'

[Source: Exhibitor Media Group -  EXHIBITOR Magazine's 2011 Green Exhibiting Survey]

With that said, I'd like to focus our attention again to the overall initiatives we could take to create a more sustainable exhibit program.  A tweet just came through from the IDSA (Industrial Designer's Society America) sharing a seminar entitled 'Improving Products Through Sustainable Design'
"...Learn how to decide on the right strategies for optimizing a product’s life and end-of-life and how to get the most use out of the materials and energy that your product uses throughout its life cycle."

I guess that is how we should think of our exhibits or trade shows.  Not as a one time purchase - but consider your exhibit in the context of your overall Marketing life cycle.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't work with your exhibit house to choose the most socially responsible (and probably more expensive) materials and products for your booth - I'm just suggesting that you also consider the impact of shipping, number of staffers attending, printed materials for your show, and tackle these along with designing and building a sustainable exhibit.


I'll leave you with this excerpt from Invista's 'non-booth concept' press release for Greenbuild in 2008:

In lieu of shipping a booth and supplies to the show site in Boston, INVISTA created its exhibit with all locally sourced and reclaimed materials, based on a minimalist design. Defining the space was a 14-year-old carpet removed recently from a leading Boston-area university, which demonstrated durable performance and the environmental message of the Antron® carpet fiber brand, “Sustainability starts with products that last.”

Vintage furniture greeted visitors along with 1950’s style chalkboards that displayed brand messaging and graphics created onsite by an artist, all sourced locally. All booth materials were reused or donated to local charities after the show. The reclaimed carpet were cut into sample sizes and used by Antron® fiber consultants to demonstrate the lasting texture retention, soil resistance and stain resistance Antron® fiber brings to commercial carpet constructions

 [Source and full article: Invista / Officenewswire]