Sustainability is still uncommon in trade fair construction

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Interview with Simon Damböck, Managing Director of Atelier Damböck Messebau

For the past 30 years, atelier damböck from Neufinsing near Munich, Germany, has offered conceptual design and implementation for trade fair exhibits. Its Managing Director is Simon Damböck. He reports that his company handles more than 300 trade show and event appointments per year. With the Greenstands initiative he wants to add more sustainability to exhibition halls and reduce CO2 emissions. We talked to him about this topic as well as retail and the EuroShop.

Trade fair construction is still not a green topic. Where are the biggest transgressions in your opinion before, during and after a trade show?

Terms like sustainability and climate protection are still too rarely associated with trade fair construction. Those who work behind the scenes at trade shows know how much waste is being produced. Everybody typically knows about the piles of rubbish after a booth gets disassembled. But particularly in this area there is a big potential to change things.

How can you do a lot for the environment using simple means?

The crucial factor is the use of eco-friendly materials. The employees of atelier damböck for instance try to avoid composite material or try to use water-based varnishes and paint colors. We are always looking for vendors with environmentally friendly products to be able to offer our customers a wide variety. A carbon neutral exhibition booth however is also in the long run about using individual parts for as long as possible, conserving energy and optimizing the logistics of assembly and disassembly including shipping.

How has the portion of non-conventional booths developed over the past few years?

Since our customers – and of course we as well- have a high standard in design, we try to tie this together with the topic of environmental protection. In doing so, we need to find the ideal middle ground to satisfy all needs and requirements – when it comes to the design as well as the functionality and the environment. The portion of carbon neutral booths of our customers was at about 25 percent last year, and the trend continues upwards. Especially for new orders this subject becomes more and more important.

Is recycling of particle boards, carpeting or partitions worth the trouble?

It is definitely worthwhile. At atelier damböck for example wall panels that are no longer needed are being converted into shipping boxes. Particle boards as well as wood waste are shredded in our in-house wood chipper shredder, compressed into pellets and used to heat our own corporate headquarters.

Does the carbon neutral exhibition booth exist?

The completely emission-free booth certainly does not exist. That’s exactly why it is all the more important to reduce CO2 emissions to a feasible minimum. To then actualize a carbon neutral exhibition booth, the remaining emissions have to be calculated and offset by the acquisition of accredited climate protection certificates.


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Which climate projects are you supporting with these CO2 certificates?

Our customers can choose from a portfolio of 10 to 15 climate protection projects to offset the CO2 emissions that were determined for the exhibition booth. Your options are for example projects in the areas of hydropower, wind energy, geothermal energy and reforestation, all of which meet set standards.

Who are your customers?

Our customers come from all kinds of different areas and are oftentimes among the market leaders in their industry sector. We are not just servicing customers from Germany, but also international companies in their global trade show presentations.

You were an exhibitor at the EuroShop. How was your green concept received?

The principle of a carbon neutral exhibition booth was met with a lot of interest by the trade fair visitors and this shows that we are on the right track with our “Greenstands“ initiative. For the trade show presentation of atelier damböck, a special booth concept was designed and implemented. Waste materials from booth construction were collected and reused with a new function, for instance as wall and decorative elements as well as steps made from previously used particle boards. Further waste was avoided by replacing conventional transparent and cloth graphics with wall projections. To avoid a flood of paper, programmed iPads were used where reference projects could be viewed. Handing out printed brochures at the trade show was completely dispensed with, since we know from experience that the lion’s share of these documents quickly ends up in the wastebasket again.


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Has this resulted in actual orders by retailers?

Due to our trade show presentation at the EuroShop, we have received numerous inquiries for trade show concepts from many different industry sectors.

What can retail learn from trade fair construction?

The structures in retail are very different from those in trade fair construction. Although we also service retail customers, it’s in the areas of trade show concepts and execution of trade show presentations. The exhibition booth is mostly intended for a few days of presentations. That’s why there are also big differences in the requirements for choice of materials and product presentation compared to the needs in retail or store construction.

Which floor covering do you recommend to environmentally conscious retailers?

In the area of trade fair construction you can fall back on more and more eco-friendly materials for example. There are carpets available that are later separated again into their individual components and thus can be easier recycled. One alternative are also carpet tiles, since in case of staining or damage of the carpet only the respective area needs to be replaced and the entire carpeting doesn’t need to be disposed of. Here some interesting, eco-friendly variations can also potentially be located for retailers. More and more vendors already recognize the increasing demand for eco-friendly products and also offer them more.

Trade fair construction and retail – both heavily depend on logistics. What do you consider to be reasonable in terms of CO2 reduction?

Unfortunately, you cannot dispense with trucking in trade fair construction. However, transportation can usually still be optimized. Trucks are only booked by us based on shipping volume so that optimal capacity utilization is ensured. In addition, our drivers are trained in fuel efficient driving to acquire an eco-friendly driving manner. Associates are also encouraged, whenever possible, to choose the train as a means of transportation to meet with customers and to go to trade shows.

Interview: René Schellbach,


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