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Ask Mr. Green
Can you recommend a Green exhibit awards program? Does our industry recognize Green leaders?

That's a great question, and your timing is perfect. The Exhibit Designers and Producers Association (EDPA) just launched its first-ever sustainability awards competition. Your company and your exhibit house can be among the inaugural winners.

Called the Zero Waste Design & Build Challenge, the contest combines the best in exhibit marketing, design, and sustainable practices.


Think outside the recycled box
Many industries are searching for ways to go Green, and the corporate events industry is no exception. Sustainability is emerging as a requirement for most Corporate Social Responsibility programs. Green has become an important metric for measuring success and customer loyalty.

But sustainability isn't just a formula. So the Zero Waste Challenge is designed to harness our industry's enormous creative and competitive energy in order to discover, reward, and publicize great ideas.

After all, cookie cutter marketing never gives the best results. So it is with sustainability. Breakthroughs involve creative thinking and clear objectives. Those who enter this competition will apply waste-reduction principles to a diverse array of projects in order to strike gold.


Green doesn't mean granola
The Challenge will reward excellence in event marketing, design, and environmental thinking. The days of recycled cardboard walls are gone. More and more companies are discovering that environmental performance is good for their brands, good for their bottom lines, and good for the environment too.

The EDPA will recognize projects that embrace this approach. Think of the Zero Waste Challenge as a design competition and sustainability contest rolled into one-and plan to take stunning photos of your project on the show floor.


Garbage in, garbage out
You can think of waste in three ways.
  • It's the unwanted material that ends up in landfills. This includes cut-off scraps that get tossed aside during booth construction, packing materials that clog the aisles during set-up, and broken literature boxes and other discards that get left behind during move-out.
  • It's the unusable byproducts of our work, including air pollution and the environmental damage that comes with extracting and refining raw materials. This includes everything from virgin–as opposed to recycled–materials, indoor air pollution from some adhesives, and even the exhaust from power plants that generate the energy we use.
  • Waste also refers to using things extravagantly, carelessly, or without purpose. Not so many years ago, excess was a sign of prosperity. But extravagance doesn't look so smart anymore.
The Zero Waste Challenge embraces all three definitions. Entries will be judged for their success in reducing waste in all three categories, with an emphasis on reducing the landfill waste that is so visible to everyone.

Apply within
Unfortunately, exhibitors cannot enter the competition. But exhibit houses can, as long as they belong to the EDPA. As always, the best efforts will involve collaborations between highly motivated exhibitors and their suppliers. The other requirements are pretty simple.
  • Entries must be substantially new projects. You can re-use existing properties and rentals as long as the booth you put on the show floor isn't just a "pull and prep" from another show. The judges will be looking for innovation.
  • Entries must be completed between November 1, 2013, and November 1, 2014. This means designed, produced, used at a show, and removed from the show hall. The judges will be looking for what you create and what you leave behind.
  • Exhibit houses can enter as many projects as they wish in two categories: Small Exhibits (up to and including 400 sq. ft.) and Large Exhibits (everything bigger).

As chair of the EDPA's Sustainability Leadership Committee, I was involved in creating this competition, and I will answer questions that support the process throughout the year.

EDPA expects to see some inspired entries. One company says its account teams are gearing up to compete with one another. So get your team motivated to impress the judges. You'll be rewarded on the show floor and hailed as a driving force in our industry.





Tom Bowman, president of Bowman Global Change in Signal Hill, CA, works with national institutions on climate change and sustainability communications and is a frequent speaker on improving public engagement in climate and energy issues. As a green business consultant, he advises companies on cost-effective sustainability actions and has won multiple awards for developing and implementing his own firm's successful green business plan. tom@bowmanglobalchange.com


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