Ecology and climate protection are becoming increasingly important in the trade fair industry. Providers of stand construction systems and furniture face the challenges.
Exhibitor demand for green exhibition concepts is on the rise. But, in general, sustainability is still a secondary criterion for fair organisers when sourcing material suppliers. Budget, design, utility and flexibility take centre stage. “The look and practicality are still the USPs of our wall systems G19 and G40. In other words, speedy installation and low weight. But the organic material itself doesn’t play a major role yet,” confirms Thomas Gilnhammer. Nevertheless, Gilnhammer’s products set a good example in terms of environmental friendliness. Apart from the aluminium connectors used to combine individual wall elements into complete walls, they are made entirely out of the renewable raw material wood.
And that’s not all: Gilnhammer’s wood is entirely from sources that are certified for sustainable forest management . The wall units have a paper honeycomb core, which explains their low weight. This is a major advantage especially for keeping transport costs low. The “skin” is made of sturdy fibreboard with a fibreboard laminate shell. All units are manufactured according to the highest quality standards. Longevity is a central aim, as the modular elements are to make the wall system reusable time and again. Last but not least, the aluminium connectors can be removed. So, at the end of their useful life, all of the organic construction materials can be thermally recycled. Finally, as a carpentry workshop, Gilnhammer sets a good example in saving energy resources. “Our heating and hot water system runs solely on wood residues, chips and all the waste wood in our workshop,” says the Managing Director (www.gilnhammer.de).
Over the last few years, sustainability has come to play a more important role for exhibition furniture rental companies. And this is not just a reaction to customer demand: Instead, providers themselves are taking the initiative. “We want to have a stronger influence on the topic. With sturdy and preferably versatile furniture maintained in an optimum condition together with exhibitors and stand builders, we can ensure a longer and more frequent use,” explains Michael Kiefer of Kiefer Mietmöbel. Even when it comes to packaging his company prefers re-usable materials. Where possible, Kiefer uses packaging materials from renewable resources or sustainable production. In the field of transport the company looks for ways to reduce pollution. Michael Kiefer clarifies: “Carbon emissions are basically unavoidable. But we try to minimise them both in our own fleet and when working with other transport companies.”
If the assignment allows, Kiefer likes to combine deliveries. The same goes for coordinating pick-up deliveries from various suppliers or customers. “Optimising logistics hasn’t always been a common practice in the exhibition industry. But apart from the green aspect this also has a positive impact on costs,” comments Kiefer’s Managing Director. Nevertheless, for trade fair architects and exhibitors the quality of the furniture is still the top priority. This is the key criterion for the choice of furniture and provider. “Furniture is a means of communication and needs to be compatible with your corporate identity – even in the meeting cubicles,” stresses Michael Kiefer. “Like we always say: No premium manufacturer can sell his products on simple folding chairs.” Over the last few years, design and quality standards have constantly risen, adds Michael Kiefer (www.kiefer-mietmoebel.de).
The name Aluvision already says it all: For the Belgian systems manufacturer aluminium is the material of choice. And according to Dirk Deleu, systems have a much better eco-balance than many other materials and construction types. “Our systems are modular, extremely sturdy and can be reused almost endlessly. And there are no limits to the construction options – it’s almost like a Lego set,” says the Managing Director of Aluvision. Compared to conventional one-off constructions the advantages are obvious: no wastes or scraps are left after stand construction. The same applies to the wall panels and fabric coverings. In addition, the amount of required materials is kept very low. Aluvision panels are very lean and lightweight. This is possible because, as mere fillers, they have no load-bearing function thanks to the stable frame structures. In addition - unlike wooden panels – they do not need to be painted or varnished and can therefore be used again after dismantling.
For lighting, Aluvision uses very low-energy LEDs. “Above all, our entire system is very lightweight. This simplifies installation and saves a lot of construction time and costs. In addition, it lowers transport costs and carbon emissions,” says Aluvision’s Managing Director Dirk Deleu. As a response to the usual argument that aluminium production is so energy-intensive, he points out the advantages: “All aluminium profiles can be recycled 100 per cent over and over again in their entirety and for years to come - without any loss of quality. In addition, recycling aluminium consumes a lot less energy than its initial production.” In manufacturing its systems Aluvision also attaches great importance to sustainability and protecting the environment. Every single bit of waste is strictly separated. And on its roof, the Flemish company has installed 620 solar panels with a generation capacity of up to 155 kilowatts. “So we produce our own green energy,” says Aluvision’s Managing Director (www.aluvision.com).
Author: Jens Kügler
This article was published in TFI issue 3-4/2014
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