With summer approaching its end, the UAE is preparing to get back to work. And for many that means slapping on a name tag, putting up a stand and showing off their business in one of the country’s cavernous exhibition halls. The period between now and the end of the year is perhaps the busiest for exhibitions – with high-profile annual events like tech extravaganza GITEX and real estate showcase Cityscape among the region’s most well attended business gatherings.
Anyone who has been to any of the UAE’s bigger exhibitions in recent years will know that companies are employing increasingly sophisticated stands to show-off their firm. The more ambitious stands at today’s mega events often boast two floors, and a surface area bigger than the typical family home. But it’s not just the stands getting bigger – the carbon footprint created by manufacturing these structures has also swelled. In fact, in the UAE alone, one estimate has the volume of carbon emitted by building exhibition stands at 200,000 tonnes a year. That’s in addition to the volumes produced flying in executives from around the globe to the UAE. However, the more proactive exhibition firms are taking steps to mitigate the impact of their operations. Some of the industry’s most recognisable brands are now signing up to offset their carbon emissions.
Exhibit Green – a division of international events and exhibitions firm Equinox Design – is the latest to take a stand. In collaboration with Dubai-based sustainable investment group Advanced Global Trading (AGT), the company is looking to off-set its carbon emissions by paying to retire carbon credits produced by environmentally sustainable projects such as wind farms. Last year Equinox Design planned, built, transported, installed, dismantled, and stored an exhibition somewhere in the world once every two-and-a-half days. Equinox partner Carl Criscione has seen the environmental impact of the exhibition industry first-hand. “Having been in business for over 30 years, we have built thousands of stands and we’ve seen incredible amounts of waste, which is exacerbated by the fact many stands need to be fireproofed, making them even more difficult to recycle,” he explains.
The firm is working with AGT to offset carbon emissions from the creation, transport, and disposal of the stands, receiving the firm’s ‘seal of approval’ in return. Global exhibitors, including 3M, Samsung and Hi-Tec, have already signed up to the scheme. The cost per stand of retiring the credits, which averages approximately two per cent of each stand’s value, allows the exhibitor to display a certificate on their stand and use it in any marketing literature.
AGT director, Charles Stephenson, explains: “Progressive exhibitors see this as a way of differentiating themselves from the competition and the next stage will be to take this model directly to the associations who organise exhibitions – particularly in the UAE – and then to roll it out worldwide.”
Franklin Connellan is head of investments at AGT, a world leader in VCS verified carbon credits. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org