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Germany IMEX stand: eco-friendly and sustainable

At IMEX - incorporating Meetings made in Germany, held from 21st-23rd May 2013 in Frankfurt, the German Convention Bureau e.V. (GCB) proved once again that it leads the way in championing Green Meetings. The umbrella organisation for the German meetings industry worked hard to ensure the sustainability of every aspect of its operation at IMEX. The strategy paid dividends, as its eco-friendly Germany Stand was proclaimed the winner of this year’s Green Exhibitor Award.

“The GCB aims to lead by example in the area of sustainability. Our environmentally-friendly Germany Stand at IMEX 2013 has shown visitors from around the world how events such as this can be managed sustainably,” said Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB.

Cutting CO2 emissions at the Germany Stand
A key objective of the GCB’s planning for IMEX 2013 was to examine ways of reducing CO2 emissions. This improved the sustainability of its Germany Stand, by identifying a range of measures to minimise its carbon footprint. Activities ranged from powering the GCB’s stand using 100% renewable electricity, to team members using public transport to travel to and from the event. The GCB produced only as many brochures as they actually required and focused on creating as little waste as possible. Even the pot plants used to decorate the stand were locally sourced, from the nearby Wetterau region. Exhibitors on the communal stand were also encouraged to calculate the level of greenhouse gases they would produce by attending IMEX and to take steps during their preparations to minimise these.

Environmental and social responsibility from GCB’s suppliers
Sustainability was also at the heart of the GCB’s process for selecting suppliers this year. Catering supplier Accente Gastronomie Service GmbH fulfilled all selection criteria, through various initiatives including supplying regional produce wherever possible and using low-emission vehicles. In line with the standards of the meetings industry’s sustainability code, known as “fairpflichtet”, the GCB has been supporting sustainable drinks producer LemonAid Beverages GmbH, who use organic ingredients from certified small-scale farming cooperatives. Specialist trade fair construction firm mac messe- und ausstellungscenter Service GmbH was chosen to build the GCB’s stand. The company, based near Frankfurt, is a pioneer of sustainability in trade fair construction and was certified as a “Sustainable company powered by FAMAB” in 2012.

CO2 offsetting: 571 trees planted
By working with CO2OL, Forest Finance Service GmbH, the GCB was able to offset CO2 emissions from the German communal stand at IMEX for the first time. As well as the impact of exhibitors and others travelling to and from the venue, emissions from the power used by technical equipment were included, along with those resulting from waste and overnight stays. The 215 businesses and organisations exhibiting on the German communal stand, as well as the open air exhibitors, were also asked to ensure that their activities at IMEX were as sustainable as possible.

Altogether, the Germany Stand generated the equivalent of 81.54 tonnes of CO2. To compensate for this, the GCB is supporting the “Tropical Mix” reforestation project in Panama. This project aims to replace pasture land with a mixed forest of predominantly native tree species. Offsetting the environmental impact of the GCB’s stand means planting approximately 571 trees; native animals and plants will benefit greatly from the new forest habitat that this will create.

Commitment to sustainability rewarded: the IMEX Green Exhibitor Award
In recognition of these efforts, IMEX and the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) chose the GCB as the winner of the coveted “Green Exhibitor Award 2013”. “The GCB has made sustainability an integral part of its entire operation at IMEX. We were impressed not only by the environmentally-friendly stand design, but also with elements such as the sourcing of local food and drink, as well as the support for community projects,” said jury member Amy Spatrisano of MeetGreen, explaining the decision. “We are delighted to receive this award, which confirms the commitment of the GCB, and all of our exhibitors, to the principle of Green Meetings,” said the GCB’s Managing Director, Matthias Schultze. “Germany’s expertise in the field of sustainability is one of the key factors behind its status as a world-leading destination for meetings, conferences and events,” added Mr Schultze.

Sustainability: a key to success in the meetings industry
Expertise in the area of sustainability can influence meeting organisers in their choice of suppliers, according to the results of the Meeting & Event Barometer 2013. Almost half of meeting and event organisers now say that they prefer providers with certified sustainability-management systems - a rise of eleven per cent year-on-year. In the view of almost a third of organisers surveyed, German suppliers’ commitment to sustainability is also leading to a noticeable improvement in the quality of events. This clearly demonstrates how German providers of meeting locations and services can add real value by employing sound sustainability-management practices.

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