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Greening is a process, made up of a series of small actions and steps that gradually take you closer to where you want to be. However, you never really get there, as the goal posts keep advancing too, says Justin Hawes, MD of Scan Display, about the challenge of making his company more sustainable.

Scan Display is an exhibition specialist, providing infrastructure and displays for exhibitions and events. Typically this industry requires brand new, personalised products for use at a single event. This encourages a culture of temporary options rather than long term sustainable solutions.

Scans approach to greening has been twofold: to start from within, by training staff and greening the offices; and to push greening externally by offering clients affordable, green solutions.

By October 2012, all staff members at Scans offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth, had undergone green training, to raise their awareness of sustainability issues and get them thinking about their impact as individuals and employees on the environment.

Scan Display Cape Town has taken the lead in greening its offices, with the installation of ten photovoltaic solar cells. These cells will generate on average 3.674MWh of energy a year, which is then fed into Eskoms power grid. The office benefits from reduced electricity tariffs, with the amount of power that Eskom receives from the cells offset against the offices electricity consumption.

Paul Hugo, Scan Cape Towns Creative Director, has calculated that in eight years the solar cells will have paid for themselves in terms of money saved through the rebated power bills. He says: It may be even sooner than this as we have repositioned the cells at a more efficient angle than we provided for in our initial calculations. The more we investigate greening, the more we push ourselves to be absolutely efficient.

Scan Cape Town has also installed a rain water tank, and the water it collects is fed into the bathrooms water supply for flushing the toilets. Rain water tanks will also be installed at the Johannesburg and Durban offices this year.

Other initiatives include: the installation of skylights at Scans factory in Newtown, Johannesburg, which means the lights can be switched off on sunny days; LED lighting in three of the four national offices; and the adoption of eco-procurement principles such as using triple green paper for printing, both in the office and for all marketing material.

Greening is not only about preserving the environment, but also relates to social upliftment. This is an aspect of greening that is closely aligned to Scans philosophy on empowerment. Scan was a finalist for the Most Empowered Tourism Business at the 2012 Imvelo Responsible Tourism Awards, mostly due to the work they do with SMEs to encourage skills transfer and development.

Scan Display has also been leading the way in terms of the green products on offer to clients. At the 2012 Exhibition & Event Association of Southern Africa (EXSA) Awards evening, Scan was awarded three of the six EXSA Green Awards for stands they had produced. Scan was also recently awarded a Bronze Award in the US-based Exhibitor Magazines 27th Annual Exhibit Design Awards competition, which attracts entries from all over the world.

Scan is also the only South African exhibition supplier to stock biodegradable carpeting, offer LED for shell scheme and work with organisers to help them implement greening at their events.