The RX Sustainability Series, Part 2

Exploring RX's Sustainable Events

The RX Sustainability Series, Part 2

Leading the way on Net Zero Carbon events

RX is a founding partner of UFI’s pledge which commits the event industry to achieve net zero carbon by 2050. As we develop our own roadmap to achieve net zero by 2040, in parallel with our parent company RELX, we shine a light on four RX sustainable exhibitions which are taking an industry lead on event sustainability and informing our journey with their best practice.

Batimat - Building a cleaner world

As the world’s largest event dedicated to building and construction, Batimat has ambitious plans to reduce its own carbon emissions, whilst challenging and inspiring the construction industry to do the same. The 2022 event is being held alongside Interclima (climate control) and Ideobain (bathrooms) from 3 to 6 October in Paris. Collectively called Mondial du Bâtiment, the three events represent the entire construction sector value chain.

“The construction industry is one of the world’s largest producers of carbon emissions. In France, it is responsible for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, half of energy consumption, and more than 15 billion euros in annual oil imports and gas,” said Event Director, Guillaume Loizeaud. 

“Two years ago, when we began planning for our 2022 event in Paris, we realised that we couldn’t challenge our audience to decarbonise their businesses without demonstrating that we were committed to do the same. With this thought – and to meet RX’s goal of achieving Net Zero Carbon by 2040 ‒ we put event sustainability at the heart of our 2020-2030 event strategy."

Working with climate consultancy EcoAct, the team are undertaking a comprehensive analysis to understand the scale of their carbon emissions and implement a range of different actions to reduce their impact on the environment.

“We are examining every aspect of our event, from flight emissions to waste recycling, local food sourcing to the banning of single use plastics for badge holders and catering,” said Guillaume.

“We have put in place a major logistical plan to encourage some 5,000 visitors to use trains and buses organised by Batimat.  And we have incorporated a carbon calculator onto our pre-registration page so that visitors can see how their chosen method of transport impacts their carbon emissions. In the case of international attendees whose presence is key, we are looking at alternatives to carbon offsetting as a way of mitigating our impact, such as investing in a sustainability project."

To reach and attract the widest possible audience in search of low carbon construction solutions, Batimat has embarked on a Low Carbon Construction Tour of 12 European and African countries between April and July 2022. In each destination they are partnering with local construction industry experts to present and discuss the latest thinking on how to decarbonise our value chain. All expert partners and road show attendees are being invited to continue the discussion, and find inspiring new solutions, at Batimat, Idéobain and Interclima in October.

This year’s Batimat conference programme is fully dedicated to decarbonisation of the building sector and will feature international climate experts presenting not only their vision for the future, but practical solutions to meet the challenges ahead.

“For the first time in 2022 we will have a 1,000m2 exhibition space dedicated to Low Carbon Construction, for which all exhibitors will be vetted to exclude any ‘green washers,” said Guillaume. “We are also partnering with the government on a scheme to promote start-ups and entrepreneurs in our sector and accelerate the adoption of their sustainable solutions.”

In the wake of the recent French elections, Guillaume published a proposal for the construction sector and our new government in May. This outlines the size of the problem using clear data, and the actions that need to be taken by President Macron and his team within their first 100 days of office if we are to meet our 2030 Net Zero Carbon targets.

"We believe that all of the above measures, and more, add up to the most ambitious decarbonisation programme undertaken within our sector, and possibly even worldwide by a show of our size and international reach. Our team, made up of all generations, are proud and inspired to combine their love of events with the opportunity to make a positive impact on society and the future of our planet."

National Hardware Show - Greening our homes

For 76 years, the National Hardware Show has been the meeting place for the US home improvement market, informing trends, generating sales and replenishing supply chains. Postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, the event returned in November 2021 with a mission to help shape a more sustainable blueprint for modern living.

“The pandemic has driven a huge boom in DIY and home improvement, as people have stayed at home and prioritised family life,” explained Event Director, Beth Casson. “Much of this demand has been driven by a new generation of DIYers in search of more sustainable products and materials. So, we launched ‘HABITAT’, a new, curated showcase for the ideas and technologies that are evolving how we will live at home.”

Education is a key element of HABITAT. “Our theme is ‘where mission meets merchandise’. We want to educate buyers on what to look for when buying sustainable products – and educate retailers on the opportunities this rapidly growing market offers them,” Beth continued. “In 2021 we focused on transparency and supply chain, while for NHS 2022 in April the theme was water conservation, with some 45 products and solutions on show. We have had really positive feedback from retailers and distribution channels saying, ‘this is fantastic, it pushes us out of our comfort zone, while at the same time giving us real intelligence and insight into new business opportunities.”

Located at the heart of the event, the HABITAT discovery zone structure is itself designed to be re-cycled from event to event to minimise waste. Indeed, when it comes to keeping its own house in order, the National Hardware Show 2022 was the most sustainable yet, with help from the Las Vegas Convention Centre’s water conservation and energy-efficient light initiatives. Specifically, NHS swapped paper for a digital directory; used sustainably sourced signage; and offered smart badge technology to enable attendees and exhibitors to capture information digitally, negating the need for printed brochures and business cards. The team also eliminated carpets from most of the event to reduce CO2 emissions.

“By restricting carpet to the two main aisles and lounge areas only, we prevented 18,656 metres of carpet going to landfill, which reduced our carbon emissions by 8.5 tonnes,” said Beth. “To educate our customers on the benefits of being carpet-free, we placed floor stickers around the show floor to highlight these and other statistics. Through our contractor, Freeman, we were also able to ensure that the main aisle and lounge carpets contained 25% recycled materials and were re-used at least four times.”

The National Hardware Show endeavours to reduce exhibitor waste and carbon emissions through its partnership with Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas not-for-profit which serves people with intellectual disabilities. “Shipping goods home at the end of an event is not only costly for the exhibitor, but for the planet,” explained Beth.

“So, we invite exhibitors to donate home and garden display tools and equipment to Opportunity Village for sale in their thrift store. Every year, several trailer loads of goods are donated generating much needed funds and local employment.” 

The event is also partnering with other organisers to co-locate their complimentary home-improvement and construction events in Las Vegas, so that visitors need to make only one trip to attend the shows. In 2022, NHS aligned with Coverings and IDAExpo. In 2023, it will bring its dates forward to February to become part of a five-strong group of simultaneous events, which also includes the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and the International Builders’ Show, offering customers even more value and opportunity whilst significantly reducing their travel emissions.

Functional Fabric Fair - Championing sustainable fashion

Functional Fabric Fair – powered by Performance Days® is the premier event in the US dedicated to the education and sourcing of sustainable, high performance textiles, with spring and fall editions in Portland, Oregon, a summer edition in New York, and a year-round digital sourcing platform called The Loop.  

The activewear industry, with its reliance on synthetic fibres, has long been one of fashion’s worst offenders when it comes to its environmental footprint, and since its launch in 2018, Functional Fabric Fair has been working to reverse that trend by championing sustainable practices. 

Since 2019, exhibitors have only been considered if they have achieved, or are working towards, at least 50% of their material coming from a recycled source. They must also meet pre-determined standards around labour and workplace conditions. And each event is dedicated to a specific sustainability topic to highlight new developments and opportunities. Recent subjects have included ‘The Sustainable use of Nylon’, which is typically a non-reusable component, and ‘Closing the Loop’ on manufacturing to facilitate the recyclability of apparel.

The focus topic for all three events in 2022 is ‘The Journey to Carbon Neutrality’, which highlights the metrics, formulas, agencies and theories to quantify and measure the CO2 emissions for performance fabrics.

“We are working with the Higg Group to establish a uniform method of grading carbon emissions derived from the manufacturing of apparel fabrics,” revealed Event Director, Stephen McCullough. “Currently there is no one metric to refer to as standard. Measuring this will take in all aspects of the fabric, including material content, energy and water consumption, and even working conditions. Our aim is to establish a Carbon Emission Value for fabrics and ultimately for finished products.”

The event team also practice what they preach. “All FFF events are ‘turnkey’, which means we supply almost everything for the exhibitor,” explained Stephen.

"To ensure responsible stand production we work with FB International who have a zero-carbon footprint mindset. Every piece of material used to build out our fairs is recycled, including the carpets. And we prohibit the use of foam-core in our signage and decor – we only use recycled cardboard."

Since 2019, the team has also upheld a ‘Trees for the Future’ pledge to plant 10 trees for every one attendee at their three annual events. “Trees for the Future are a highly respected philanthropic group and we are proud to contribute to the replanting of our forests,” said Stephen.

Functional Fabric Fair is further helping to reduce carbon emissions through its year-round digital sourcing platform, The Loop. “This was built from the ground up with not only our customers’ business needs in mind, but also the journeys they have to make. They can now search tens of thousands of products from their computer and order physical samples to be delivered with the click of a button. This minimises the need for factory visitors, reducing overall carbon emissions for the benefit of the planet.”

All-Energy – Engineering a Net Zero future

RX is proud to organise a global portfolio of clean energy business events which are all working to accelerate the UN’s sustainability agenda. By providing a platform for thought leadership, and a showcase for clean energy transition, we are helping to solve the most pressing climate issues of our time and creating blueprints for a sustainable future.

Our market leading brands include World Future Energy Summit (Abu Dhabi), Pollutec, (France)  World Smart Energy Week (Japan) – and All-Energy (UK) which celebrated its 21st anniversary in May.

Held in Glasgow six months after the UN COP26 Summit, and with its strapline ‘Engineering a Net Zero Future’, All-Energy 2022 was packed with innovative solutions for the challenges facing every sort of renewable energy development. Alongside All-Energy, Dcarbonise, supported by the Scottish Government and Energy Saving Trust, offered private and public sector energy end-users access to advice and technology to assist them in their plans to decarbonise their buildings, business and transportation.

“All-Energy has spent two decades helping the UK to decarbonise its power supply. After a two-year enforced absence due to the pandemic, we were delighted to be back in Glasgow with a firm focus on innovation and investment, partnership and collaboration,” said Portfolio Director, Jonathan Heastie.

Over 500 speakers took part in the conference, which opened with a powerful plenary session devoted to ‘COP26, the Glasgow Climate Pact: Reflections and way forward’, and featured contributions from Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and COP26 President Alok Sharma.

In the new Innovation Zone, Innovate UK showcased 27 innovators of clean energy technology, programmes and clusters. The zone was also the location for the Future Talent Hub which delivered a programme of sessions on how to recruit and upskill the talent so vital to the renewables’ revolution.

Greenbackers Investment Capital brought its Global Climate Tech Tour and ‘Super Pitch’ to the event, at which the most promising early-stage climate tech ventures pitched for investment, live-streamed to a global audience.  And ‘Meet the Developer’ offered 1-2-1 ‘speed dating’ meetings to help suppliers of renewable energy solutions meet organisations actively looking to expand their supply chains.

“All-Energy and Dcarbonise 2022 brought together 250 clean energy exhibitors and over 7,600 leaders, innovators and influencers,” said Jonathan.

“We saw a phenomenal interest in hydrogen, and an acknowledgment that renewables have real pulling power when it comes to generating electricity and in the increasingly vital need for security of supply. We tripled the number of investors attending compared to 2019 to over 200 and were pleased to welcome oil and gas producers to the floor for the first time to facilitate their investment in low carbon alternatives. No-one can deal with the effects of climate change and the fast-moving shift to renewables in isolation. Great minds need to think and work together, and 21 years after it was first held, All-Energy continues to engineer an inspiring, unifying and motivating vision of the UK’s route to net carbon zero.”

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