More companies 'looking for environmentally-friendly exhibition displays'

22nd November 2010

At 2010's Eurosatory exhibition, one stand was attracting a lot of attention. This display from Hesco Bastion showcased the best of green stand design, differentiating it from many stands seen at exhibitions across the world.

It is hardly surprising that more and more companies are looking at ways to be greener, particularly with the government's recent emphasis on green investments and the current focus on corporate social responsibility.

In fact, a recent study from McKinsey & Company found that 59 per cent have taken action to reduce the environmental impact of their company's operations.

Some 43 per cent of firms in general see climate change and energy efficiency as the most important environmental issue facing their business, while 42 per cent of executives said they were worried about waste pollution, the research published in the McKinsey Quarterly shows.

Unsurprisingly, such concerns have impacted on the choices businesses make when it comes to exhibiting.

Susie Newman-Turner, director of Designrock Ltd, the firm behind Hesco Bastion's display, said that businesses are now looking for ways to show that they are responsible on three levels - socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

Yet, when it comes to exhibiting, this is often easier said than done, she said. Designrock, which works on commercial interiors as well as exhibiting stands, aims to provide a solution to this problem.

Ms Newman-Turner said: "[The exhibition sector] is a very wasteful industry but there are things that you can do to minimise the impact on the environment."

"What we would say is good design and being eco-friendly should go hand-in-hand," she added.

She continued by saying that the focus should not just be on recycled, recyclable and sustainable materials. Although she agrees that this is important, there are other measures which companies can take to reduce their environmental impact.

Alongside using sustainable materials, Ms Newman-Turner believes it is important to look at the whole design process holistically. "It's about coming up with a solution that can be used again and again - so one that is timeless," she said.

"It's important to avoid unnecessary and complex design solutions," Ms Newman-Turner also stated, adding that deigns should be streamlined.

A design that uses fewer materials can help to reduce waste, while designing to size can help play a key role in making exhibiting greener.

"If you are using a certain material, there will be a standard sheet size for that material. So you design within that and then you [are] not wasting material," she said.

Weight is another factor which Designrock considers when designing stands, because this can have "a huge impact on transportation", the commentator noted.

Ms Newman-Turner also had some advice for firms: "Storing exhibition components close to where you are going to be exhibiting plays a role in reducing carbon footprints."

Although the firm has worked on a number of high-profile green exhibition stands, Designrock has not placed a lot of emphasis on promoting its eco credentials until recently.

"The reason we haven't done this is because we didn't want to appear to be jumping on the eco bandwagon that [has] evolved in recent months. It's only this year that we realised that this is a differentiator and I think that this is something that a lot of companies which are exhibiting will feel," she said.

This was certainly the case with Hesco Bastion, with the marketing director praising the stand's open plan aesthetic and environmentally-friendly features. It was first used in 2008, attracting lots of attention, and has since been updated.

He said: "2008 was the most successful exhibition we'd had to date. Our stand this year has again been a real talking point - effective in its focus and also environmentally friendly. [It was] a very productive show"

Ms Newman-Turner is hopeful that more companies will embrace this trend for green exhibitions in the months and years to come.