Ask Mr. Green: How long should we keep an exhibit to be Green?

Ask Mr. Green: How long should we keep an exhibit to be Green?

We’ve kept our exhibit for about seven years. Business is good, so we’re thinking about replacing it. How long should we keep an exhibit to be Green?  (via EXHIBITOR)

This industry is built on a passion for creativity and new messaging, as well as remarkable finesse when it comes to construction. Inventing and producing new exhibits is exciting. We all love doing it.

Death and Taxes

Did you know that you have already used your exhibit longer than average? According to EXHIBITOR Magazine’s 2014 Rental/Refurb Survey, the average lifespan for an exhibit is 5.06 years. There’s a reason why this is true.

Exhibits are capital assets, so companies cannot deduct the cost of construction from their income taxes in a single year. Capital assets are depreciated instead, and the depreciation schedule just happens to last for five years.

You can see where this is headed. After five years, marketing people have grown tired of their properties. It’s time to solve those nagging ergonomic problems and project a fresh new image. It’s time for new graphics and new colors. It’s time to show the marketplace that your company is thriving and moving forward. And, since the exhibit probably needs some extensive refurb after five years, why pour new money into something old? Bottom line: it’s time to go out to bid.

But, as you and a significant number of your peers have learned, exhibits can last much longer than the depreciation schedule. You’ve already gotten seven years of valuable service. One of our client’s exhibits is currently in its tenth season, and another exhibitor uses a mix of newer pieces and components that are as much as fifteen years old. The lesson is that the average exhibitor is disposing of an exhibit long before the properties have worn out.

In fact, EXHIBITOR’s survey also shows that in 2011, 19 percent of exhibitors expected their exhibits would last more than a decade. During hard economic times saving money through re-use offered a win-win. Today, though, the number of exhibitors who expect their properties to last for more than ten years has plummeted to less than 10 percent.

Good News, Bad News

This looks like good economic news for the industry’s builders, but it’s not such good news for the environment.

Continue Reading at EXHIBITOR »

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo courtesy of hibino via creative commons license..

About the Author

Tom is founder and CEO of Bowman Change, Inc., a consultancy dedicated to helping organizations reap the benefits of working with purpose—making social issues and environmental change central to their missions.