In 2012 the Exhibition and Event Association of Southern Africa (EXSA) launched Green Award categories for its annual EXSA Awards. The response was positive, with a total of 11 submissions made for the Green Stand and Green Show categories, and six awards handed out at the awards evening.

“Recognition is one of the most important, if not the most important feedback mechanisms for any initiative,” says Nigel Walker, the Chairman of EXSA. “Without recognition in the form of awards, it is difficult to highlight those projects that have gone the ‘extra mile’. Greening is not a once-off ‘thing’ to do, it needs to be totally integrated into the project, and indeed into the business. Having done this, putting the spotlight on a number of projects that shine ensures that specific elements that contributed to a winning projects are highlighted.”

But what goes into the Green Awards? How can you win one?

The Event Greening Forum NPC (EGF) provided the guidelines and judging criteria for the awards, with the support of EXSA’s stand judging forum. Says EGF Chairman, Justin Hawes: “We did not want the award criteria to be prescriptive. Event greening is by nature a creative process, just like events. No two events are alike, and this means different methods of event greening will be required.”

This led to an approach where six broad categories of judging criteria were developed. Each category has a maximum number of points that can be allocated, and guidelines as to what kinds of tactics should warrant points. The scores were weighted so that the categories playing a bigger role in greening could be awarded more points.
All entries had to provide a motivation for why they should win a Green Award, and be accompanied by a portfolio of evidence to support this – such as photographs, product information, energy readings, and so forth.

Award criteria

If you look at the categories and their scores below, you will see that the operations of an exhibition can make the biggest ‘green’ impact. For the exhibition stands it is both the operations and the materials used that are most important.

The categories for exhibitions – where exhibition organisers are judged for what they have done at a specific show – are: Marketing & Communication (5 points); Eco-procurement (10 points); Operations (20 points); Transport (5 points); Beyond green (5 points); and Innovation (5 points).

The categories for exhibition stands – where stand builders are judged for the design and manufacture of their stand – are: Design (5 points); Materials (10 points); Operations (10 points); Transport (5 points); Beyond green (5 points); and Innovation (5 points).

Case Studies

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the nature of the show, the Green Expo achieved the highest score in the Stand Awards category. Three City Events launched the Green Expo in 2011, and the show runs in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Examples of initiatives where they scored well included:
• E-registration, which enabled e-tickets to be used via smart phones and ipads, avoiding unnecessary print-outs.
• Show attendees were encouraged to use public transport or cycle. And those cycling were rewarded with free entry to the show.
• Handwritten chalk board fascias were provided for the exhibitors instead of traditional vinyl prints that only have a single use. All of the fascias included a QR code to assist visitors with capturing the exhibitor’s details without needing to collect brochures or other marketing materials.
• Another unusual initiative was the show’s policy of banning beef. This is a risk considering that South Africans are passionately meat-loving! However, consider this: the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Clean Metrics compiled a report called ‘The Meat Eaters Guide’, which judged the carbon footprint of a number of different food types. They found that beef had the second highest levels of green house gas emissions – this is mostly methane gas, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent that carbon dioxide. (Source:
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) stand at COP17 was also a Green Award winner for the Outdoor Pavilion category. Designed and managed by Scan Display, the stand harnessed naturally available resources like sunlight and air-flow for light and ventilation, rather than having to use technology to simulate them.
Other design aspects of the stand that contributed to this stand winning an award include:
• All the stand’s lighting requirements were provided by six photovoltaic cells installed on the roof of the stand. They had a battery bank to store all energy generated in the day, to be used for the LED lighting in the evenings and for the plasma screens.
• The majority of the materials used on the stand had either been used before the event, and / or would be re-used after the event. This greatly reduced the output of waste from the stand.
• And finally, biodegradable carpeting was used, which was donated to Mother of Peace for use in their perma-culture projects after the event. This is a good example of how waste can be avoided, while also having a positive social implication.

Another pioneering green feature of a stand was the use of light sensor of the Sasol Olifants In-Situ stand that Complete Exhibitions designed and set up as a permanent installation. This meant that the stand only powered up when being visited and the energy supply would switch off at other times, thus avoiding unnecessary energy usage.
The judges also applauded this stand for its robust design and materials that could be adapted for future use, demonstrating a long term strategy for the project.

Walker adds that awards should be progressive: “Annual awards gradually raise the bar across the industry as a whole, what was the exception this year, will become the norm for the next year.”

The EXSA Green Award winners in 2012 were:

EXSA Green Show Awards
• Three City Events: Best Green Exhibition for The Green Expo held in Cape Town and Johannesburg
• Scan Interactive: Best Green Outdoor Pavilion for the CCR Expo/Marquee at COP 17

EXSA Green Stand Awards
• HotelStuff / GreenStuff: Best Large Indoor Pavilion for their own stand at Hostex
• Complete Exhibitions: Best Large Stand for Sasol’s Olifants In-Situ Display
• Scan Display: Best Medium Stand Award for DEA stand at the CCR Expo at COP 17
• Scan Display: Best Small Stand Award for Pfizer stand

Entries for the 2013 Green Awards are open. Please download the application forms and judging criteria from