With the business aviation community’s groundswell of interest in becoming more eco-friendly, NBAA has begun to reflect this awareness as well with several initiatives at its shows. “Our exhibitors, who are our customers, want it,” said Maureen Cameron, NBAA’s marketing director. “They recognize that our industry is in the press a great deal and they are looking to help diminish the carbon footprint of the industry in whatever way they can.” She pointed to the many items that come in to the show, such as packaging and signage, “that conceivably could be a one-time use thing, but our exhibitors are looking to us to help set the trend for making them multi-functional or multi-year usage to help reduce waste.”
From simple solutions such as providing recycling bins for cans and bottles to switching from plastic tableware and paper tablecloths to silverware, glasses and linens, the organization is gradually bringing more ecological solutions to its shows, including directly saving energy. “At all of our events we have been working very hard with the convention centers. When we can, we turn off the lights and we turn off the air conditioning,” Cameron said.
Another green initiative is the reuse of materials such as banners and signs for other shows. After use, they can be stored at local warehouses owned by the show management company that NBAA partners with, until the next time the show is in the area. Other reusable materials such as carpeting are also stored until needed for the next show in the area.
Given the annual exhibition’s success–NBAA is ranked among the top 10 in U.S. trade shows–the number of venues that can accommodate it make this arrangement possible. “Right now we’re down to just a handful; we’re in Orlando, Atlanta can still house us, New Orleans if it is in a situation to have both the static display and the exhibit hall, and at this time they’re not quite there, and that’s about it,” Cameron stated.
NBAA has also adopted ways to cut down on the use of paper, relying more on e-mail communication with members and exhibitors. At the shows themselves, NBAA will begin recycling excess paper, including leftover show dailies and other publications.
“We tell people there are 33,000 people coming to NBAA, so they might want to send a few thousand for the publication bin. Instead, they send three or four times that, so we have a lot of excess that has to be disposed of,” said Cameron. “I’m told not only will that be an ecologically friendly thing, it may actually make us some money because the paper pulp is so valuable.” While that program may not be in place for NBAA’08, show organizers expect it to be functioning by next year’s European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) and possibly the new Light Business Aircraft show scheduled this March in San Diego.