Italian Exhibition Group has certified the Rimini and Vicenza expo centres and the organisation of Ecomondo and, at the beginning of 2023, the procedure will also regard Rimini’s Palacongressi conference centre. The prestigious acknowledgment was obtained thanks to the consultation of the Hera Group.

As one of the sector’s major players, Italian Exhibition Group (IEG) has obtained 20121 certification for its Rimini and Vicenza expo centres and the organisation of Ecomondo: the European expo for the circular economy, for 25 years. And at the beginning of 2023 the procedure will also regard Rimini’s Palacongressi Conference centre, a process that will result in IEG being one of the first and most important players to certify all its facilities. A process of environmental sustainability that began a long time ago, on the inauguration day of the new Expo Centre in 2001. Starting with the prestigious Elca international building with green acknowledgement in Nuremberg, IEG then achieved ISO 14001 Environment certification, ISO 450001 occupational health and safety and GBAC Star accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council.

The consultation of the Hera Group for strategic certification, unique in Europe

IEG’s choice to aim at obtaining this coveted sustainability certification assumes an extremely high strategic value, finalised at qualifying itself increasingly as a mature subject committed to transition towards the circular economy. In fact, ISO 20121 certifies activity planned and carried out in respect of economic, social and environmental aspects: observing it means assuming a long-term balanced approach to carrying out business activity, environmental responsibility and generating social progress, to meet the necessities of the present day and favour corporate development, qualifying it.

For the complex certification process, IEG decided to take advantage of the consultation and expertise of the Hera Group, one of Italy’s major multi-utilities managing environmental, water and energy services for approximately 5 million Italians and which has always put sustainability and circular economy at the heart of its strategy.

During the certification process, begun in March 2022 and particularly complex for a company structured like IEG, the Hera Group provided its support on the various documentary, management, organisation and operational aspects, to complete the process necessary for obtaining ISO 20121 under the profile of environmental, economic and social sustainability.

In particular, a dedicated team from the multiutility was committed to a busy calendar of activities: from on-site inspections at the venues involved to meetings with the various corporate areas and with suppliers, from Bureau Veritas audits to the phases of analysis of the documents and assessment from the point of view of sustainability, through to the revision and processing of new procedures, planning of the potential development of activities and processes from a circular point of view.

ISO 20121 certification in brief and best practices

In short, ISO 20121 certification commits IEG directly, by means of its collaborators and suppliers, to:

  • Stimulating the complete satisfaction of the activity carried out, a condition necessary for the creation of value and sustainable development.
  • Ensuring all-round accessibility regarding the rights of disabled persons.
  • Using equipment, operational methods and organisation aspects that safeguard the environment with the reduction of emissions.
  • Optimising mobility systems and reducing waste production.
  • Increasing source-segregated waste collection and reducing energy and water consumption.
  • Using suppliers that are qualified from the point of view of quality, safety and environmental aspects.
  • Informing and ensuring that all employees, suppliers, local partners, clients and participants in the events are aware of environmental and sustainability issues.

The best practices introduced with the planning of the Ecomondo event include that re garding the elimination of carpet in the halls’ indoor corridors, with an annual environmental saving of over 140 tons of carpet; the collection and recovery of cigarette butts; the increase of recharging stations for electric cars; accessibility to the expo centre by disabled visitors; the increase of installed power regarding the photovoltaic systems; the involvement of local stakeholders.

The expo centre has 1,500 trees and bushes irrigated by surface water-bearing strata, illumination in the halls is favoured by 850 LED lighting fixtures, which save emission of 120 tons of CO₂ annually and 360,000 kWh of consumption. The photovoltaic systems ensure the production of 8.5 million kWh of clean energy, equal to that necessary to ensure the Italian facilities are self-sufficient. The recovery of water saves 23 million litres and all the fountains recycle the water they use. The underground “ice bank” contributes to cooling the venues, halving consumption. The on-site railway station is used by 20 per cent of the visitors and reduces traffic flow; there are 7 recharging columns for electric cars and motorbikes and this number will soon be doubled.

IEG CEO Corrado Peraboni states, “With this important certification, which, with Ecomondo, we are the first to have obtained in Europe in the context of expos on the environment, we have given concrete form to the objectives for sustainable development of the Agenda 2030, principles that are in line with the values of IEG and at the base of our corporate policy. In recent years, acknowledgements and best practices have also generated virtuous behaviour among our hundreds of thousands of international visitors, but ISO 20121 represents a further step forward, a tangible contribution to the process of cultural change, taking the form of behaviour necessary for protecting the planet.”

Orazio Iacono, Hera Group CEO, specifies, “The support for one of the major players in the sector such as IEG in the complex process of certification of its expo centres, and for an important event such as Ecomondo, represents the natural consequence of sharing objectives of sustainability and circular economy, which have always been at the base of our corporate strategy. Thanks to ISO 20121 certification, the planning of sustainable events in respect of the economic-social aspects becomes even more strategic and tangible, while at the same time providing a balanced long-term approach to environmental responsibility and social progress.”