25 Oct 2011

The event and exhibition industry is striving to adopt more sustainable practices in order to both reduce carbon footprint and save money. Mark Danvers, Operations Director for IT and AV rental company DB Systems, looks at how AV professionals can help the industry’s efforts.

The event and exhibition industry has traditionally been a wasteful and environmentally unfriendly sector. For example, an exhibitor will very often use the materials on an exhibition stand once before throwing them away. Also, the industry operates on a global scale, which means carbon emissions from transportation, such as planes, road vehicles and trains. In addition, all events have tonnes of printed brochures and literature, which means cutting down trees for the paper and energy usages from the production process.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. The industry is making impressive strides to become greener and there is a desire amongst suppliers, organisers and exhibitors to do more. For example, there are a greater number of companies that have achieved, or are working towards, the ISO 14000 series of environmental standards, such as ISO 14001.

From the AV point of view, I think we AV professionals can reduce our (and our customers’) carbon footprint through various sustainability practices. One such practice is technological. To me, AV is about innovation and our industry can offer technologically innovative products and services that will make a real significant contribution to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint.

For example, DB System’s DBpixelhouse division offers clients a system called ecoXpress, which is an eco-friendly method used by exhibitors to distribute corporate literature as it removes the need for printed material on stands. By not having printed brochures, exhibitors are able to reduce their carbon footprint because there is no printing required (which saves trees and energy involved in production of material). Also, there's no issue with regards to transporting the printed material, which means less CO2 released from unnecessary vehicle usage.

Another sustainable practice could be how we dispose of equipment. DB is an AV and IT rental company that invests in and hires out the very best technology in order to meet the demands of clients. But there comes a time when the technology is no longer of use for our clients. At this point we don’t simply throw it away. Instead we pass the technology on to people and companies that can break it down and recycle or reuse the components. In addition, any technology that is still in good working order (though no longer suitable for our clients) is sold.

When it comes to buying new AV equipment, among the factors we should consider are things like power consumption and energy efficiency. Product manufacturers are increasingly producing energy efficient goods, which not only helps reduce their own carbon footprint, but also benefits those companies that buy the products, such as AV suppliers, and the end-users.

As I mentioned earlier, the event and exhibition industry is a global one so we should also consider transportation. DB Systems and many other AV providers operate around the world, which means having to ship equipment to venues in Europe, the Middle East and as far away as Asia. In order to reduce the environmental impact, DB shares freight with other contractors. Another transportation issue we are currently dealing with is replacing two of our fleet vans with vehicles that have stop/start technology. The new vans will be more fuel-efficient.

To sum up, the industry is doing a good job to be more sustainable, but there is more that can be done, particularly by AV professionals. The changes don’t even have to be major. Ultimately, if we AV professionals do lots of small things it will add up to one big contribution to sustainability in the event and exhibition industry as a whole.

As featured on AV Interactive.

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