Guest Blog: Build & Burn Exhibition Stands: The Sustainability Myth- Alan Jenkins, Quadrant2Design

By Alan Jenkins, managing director of Quadrant2Design, exhibition stand design and build contractors, based in Poole, Dorset.

How exhibiting companies unwittingly contribute to the shocking waste of resources involved in tradeshows and events by using ‘Build and Burn’ exhibition stand solutions.

Belle_ACE 2017_BDC littleVisit any corporate website and you’ll read the usual platitudes about the organisations’ commitment to sustainability and the environment.

Why then, do many of these same organisations commission old fashioned ‘custom-built’ exhibition stands that represent a shameful waste of materials
and resources?

Why are these traditional exhibition stands so wasteful?

These stands, built by traditional carpentry, represent weeks of workshop labour and resources, using materials such as compressed timber products, plastics and metals, and using glues, screws, laminates and solvents.

Not only are these building materials bad for the environment, the resulting exhibition structures are extremely heavy, often requiring polluting diesel HGV transport to get them to the exhibition venue.

Once at the venue, these stands are then re-built by carpenters and decorators; sawing timber, screwing panels together, cutting materials; creating dust, debris, fumes and hazards to themselves and their co-workers.

Anyone visiting a show build-up, where numbers of traditional custom-builds are taking place, will notice the aisles full of rubbish, sawdust and debris – the unfortunate results of these old fashioned building methods

But what makes the situation even worse, is that these exhibition stands are nearly always ‘one-off’ creations that are trashed once the show is over (‘Build and Burn’ as the Americans call it!) . A shocking waste of labour and materials.

One alternative to traditional stands are reusable, modular display systems.

These at least provide the exhibitor with a reusable solution, allowing them the option of reconfiguring for different stand space at future shows.

The trouble with most modular display systems, is that they are too often a poor substitute for traditional custom designed exhibition stands. They are limited in terms of design capability and are therefore not an attractive proposition to many exhibiting companies who wish to present a professional image.

However, over recent years a new genre of ‘custom-modular’ exhibition stand solutions have been developed. These solutions seek to combine the looks of a custom designed stand, with the benefits of a reusable modular system.

My company, Quadrant2Design, is a leading proponent of this approach with our Swiss-designed Prestige Events System, along with other reputable competitors such as companies Nimlok and Whitespace.

Why are these custom-modular exhibition stands so much less wasteful than traditional custom built solutions?

Our Prestige Events System is constructed from expanding frames, onto which magnetic struts are fixed. Flexible drops of graphics panels (similar to wallpaper) then fit magnetically to the structure.

The expanding frames can then be connected to each other in a multitude of differently shaped configurations, allowing the designer to create bespoke exhibition stands that meet the exact needs of an exhibitor.

Once the magnetic graphics are fully fitted to a complete Prestige stand, none of the expanding frame structure is visible, giving the display a look that is 100% graphics – a truly custom designed exhibition stand.

However, unlike traditional custom designed stands, a custom-modular stand can be disassembled after the show and stored for future use.

When the size and layout of the client’s next exhibition space is known, the exhibition designer can then reconfigure the Prestige frames and graphics to suit the new space, thus creating an entirely ‘new’ bespoke exhibition stand.

The environmental benefits of this approach are clear. The valuable resources used to create the client’s exhibition stand are not trashed after one use, but  used again and again at different future events.

In the case of Prestige stands, there are also some additional benefits.

The expanding frames that form a Prestige stand are extremely light and compact for transport. This means that smaller, lighter and less polluting transport can be used to transport exhibition stands.

Once on site at the exhibition hall, no forklifts or power tools are required to transport and build a Prestige stand, and with no cutting, sawing or drilling involved, builds are much cleaner and safer than with traditional stands.

Prestige stands are also quick and intuitive to build, with many exhibitors choosing to self build their Prestige exhibition stand.

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