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With a comprehensive sustainability strategy and a long-term plan of action, Messe Frankfurt has ushered in a transformation process aiming to reduce the event industry’s carbon footprint. We are building on the basic idea of improving our environmental and sustainability performance continually and transparently and allowing it to be accessible for anyone to measure. To this end, we have created a sustainability target architecture that helps us to process the ecological, social and economic dimensions in a structured way. We will continue to be guided by the need for substantial measures that can also be verified.
The Code of Conduct serves as an overall guideline for Messe Frankfurt. It formulates the company’s own standards regarding ethical conduct and business activities. Its leading principles include working with others in a spirit of respect and cooperation, social responsibility, protecting the environment and natural resources, and a wide range of governance issues. As a whole, they confirm Messe Frankfurt’s principles and form the basis for the company’s long-term commercial success.
Our successful business activities are rooted in our tradition as a reliable company. Legal obligations, voluntary commitments, guidelines and best practices are the cornerstones of this system. Defining clear, binding rules for purchasing and efficiently structuring internal rules and processes helps to prevent corruption and other breaches of the rules. As well as employee training, the personal commitment of each individual is vital to making compliance a fixed part of our Code of Conduct. Through the increasing globalisation of our Group and the growing significance of international business, establishing and optimising internationally coordinated systems and structures is assuming a fundamental role. This is also the case when it comes to meeting the growing demands from governance and data protection and legal requirements.
Guests with a combined ticket can can use their admission tickets to travel to our Group events free on public transport within the entire fare zone. Since 2013, Messe Frankfurt customers have travelled to and from events on Deutsche Bahn’s long-distance trains, using 100 percent green power. With its central location in the city, the Frankfurt exhibition grounds can be reached directly with all public transport. At the time of writing, there is the “Messe” suburban rail (S-Bahn) station in the middle of the exhibition grounds and the underground (U-Bahn) and tram connection at the City Entrance/Festhalle. As of 2025, these will be joined by the new “Messeplatz” entrance on Europa-Allee with another U-Bahn connection. These, together with the proximity to the Central Station, help to reduce private transport, allowing our customers and guests to travel to and from the trade fairs conveniently and with a minimum of strain on the environment. For customers and guests with e-cars, there are 24 charging stations (22 kW) on the exhibition grounds and in the Rebstock multi-storey car park and a high-speed charging station (300 kW) with two charging points.
Incidentally, Messe Frankfurt will also provide your employees with a free job ticket that entitles them to use public transport throughout the entire RMV area while they are working at its Frankfurt base. Messe Frankfurt also actively encourages its employees to cycle to work and makes available necessary resources on the exhibition grounds. This is why it was certified by the German Bicycling Club (ADFC) as a “bicycle-friendly company” in 2017 and presented with the Bike + Business Award in the same year. In 2022, the certification was awarded in accordance with the new directives of the EU and ADFC initiative. Here, Messe Frankfurt received the certificate in silver.
Messe Frankfurt aims to avoid waste and to sort 100% of unavoidable waste and incorporate it into its closed-loop system. To prevent waste from accumulating in the first place, we take suitable measures early on in the planning stages of our trade fairs, for example when designing special showcases. Sourcing materials, equipment and services from local providers reduces CO2 emissions. And procuring socially responsible, high-quality materials and existing materials from our extensive warehouse minimises the amount of resources used. Waste disposal consultants are available at our events during set-up to provide information on waste avoidance and disposal. They advise exhibitors and stand constructors and inform them about waste concepts and the importance of correct waste disposal for the resource cycle. Waste is monitored to make sure that materials are separated properly.
In keeping with the principles of closed-loop recycling management, all waste on the Frankfurt exhibition grounds is sent for material or energy recovery. We can monitor in detail which residual material is incurred on the exhibition grounds. A very large proportion consists of recyclable wood, which in turn can be used as building materials such as OSB boards. Paper is reused as raw material for paper production. Our carpeting supplier, Sommer NP, has carpets that currently have Cradle-to-Cradle Certification® in bronze. The aisle carpeting is recycled after use and the granulate is incorporated into the production of new carpets and for plastic injection moulding, etc.
In total, over 90 percent of material at our Frankfurt events is recycled or reused. The remaining ten percent is used to generate energy, while material that cannot be incinerated is deposited (e.g. concrete fibreboard).
The main focus is on reducing the volume of drinking water being used for other purposes. For instance, we use rainwater for flushing the toilet facilities, saving around seven litres of fresh water with each flush. We also use rainwater to irrigate our green areas. Switching from open cooling towers to closed recooling systems helps to reduce the water spray resulting from cooling systems. As well as this, we use a biological wastewater treatment system to break down cooking fats contained in wastewater – this significantly reduces the amount of chemicals used in treating wastewater. We only use cleaning agents from certified manufacturers that are free from microplastics. We also factor in water consumption when planting new areas. In view of climate change and the increasing shortage of water, we generally opt for plants that are more resistant to heat and drought.
For us, social responsibility begins in our own company. We ensure a positive working relationship, good working conditions and a healthy work-life balance. Having a responsible and broad-based health management system is second nature for us. We are aware of our social responsibility and support social institutions in Frankfurt and in our subsidiaries. These include for example our partnership with Children For a Better World.
In addition to Kap Europa and the Cargo Center, we have planted greenery on the roof of Hall 5. This enhances the insulation effect of the roof, improves the microclimate in the city and demonstrates beneficial effects in the event of heavy rain.
Messe Frankfurt currently operates three photovoltaic systems, which generate around 2.4 GWh of solar energy in total (2021). Taken together, they help to reduce CO2 by an estimated 1,200 tonnes a year. The photovoltaic systems are located on the roofs of Hall 10, Hall 12 and the Rebstock multi-storey car park. The largest of these is on the roof of Hall 12, which is fitted with 5,300 solar modules on an area of 8,400 square metres. Messe Frankfurt uses all the power it harvests for its exhibition grounds. The installed power of this system is 1,511 kWp.
Since the beginning of 2020, Messe Frankfurt has been using 100% green power from renewable resources. This allows it to avoid 19,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.
The green electricity is sourced from our energy supplier Mainova. For each kWh of electricity, a Guarantee of Origin certificate is issued by the German Environment Agency, confirming that it is certified green electricity, i.e. comes entirely from renewable energies. The sustainable energy supply on our Frankfurt exhibition grounds is also entering a new phase. From 2024 onwards, 30 percent of our power requirements – including our event operations – will be sourced from a solar farm in Brandenburg. This means that we will know exactly where our climate-friendly electricity comes from. It will also allow us to safeguard energy for our Frankfurt base in the long term, which is important in view of the volatile energy market.
Since 2016, Messe Frankfurt has been using a central traffic management system that was developed for its Frankfurt base together with a logistics software specialist. The system is managed by Messe Frankfurt’s traffic control centre and helps to make optimum use of available capacity. Here, the traffic situation on the exhibition grounds at any given time is shown on different monitors. The fill level is displayed in various colours so that the traffic management team can see at a glance what the current status of the loading zones is. In addition to our traffic management system, we went one step further with the integrated traffic management system (IVLS) Frankfurt West. In this project, which is being implemented in conjunction with the City of Frankfurt and State of Hesse, some 80 traffic signs and motorway displays in the vicinity of Messe Frankfurt will be equipped with a digital field. The IVLS allows us to improve the signposting of various events and destination points for exhibitors and visitors, including when events take place simultaneously. During set-up and dismantling, it allows us to steer the traffic more precisely to the truck assembly points at the Rebstock car park in front of the exhibition grounds and from there to the entry gates.
Sustainability is factored into all stand constructions, particularly when it comes to selecting material and optimising logistics. In stand construction, a distinction can be made between system stands and individual stands. Because individual stands are generally produced for a one-time purpose, they differ greatly from reusable system stands with regard to the ecological sustainability of the material used. Our subsidiary Messe Frankfurt Fairconstruction focuses primarily on system stand construction. This guarantees that (rental) materials – most of which are stored on the exhibition grounds so that transport routes are minimised – are reused. Needless to say, Messe Frankfurt Fairconstruction can also produce individual stands if required. Here, we work primarily with regional service partners so that transport routes are also reduced. And we always offer the option of switching to more sustainable consumables.
Messe Frankfurt provides sustainable food and drink through its subsidiary accente. When it comes to serving trade fairs, congresses or other large events, this means using fresh, seasonal products from the local region, in organic quality wherever possible. This goes for both food and drinks. More and more customers want to know where their food comes from and prefer to eat less meat and more vegetables. accente does not use unnecessary packaging material, small packaging containers or single-portion packs. Channels are short because accente’s production, logistics and service are all based on our exhibition grounds.
In past years, the Group has undertaken a series of voluntary commitments relating to sustainability, such as the United Nations Global Compact, the Charter of Diversity and the ‘fairpflichtet’ sustainability code. In 2022, Messe Frankfurt completed an ESG rating (Environmental, Social and Governance) for the first time and was awarded a bronze medal. As well as supporting the sustainability initiatives of sector associations AUMA and UFI, the company has signed the Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge. By the end of 2023, Messe Frankfurt wants to be one of the first company in the German trade fair sector to secure a certificate from environmental management system Eco Management & Audit Scheme (EMAS).
Messe Frankfurt also uses the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) certification for buildings – for example for Kap Europa, which combines sustainable construction with first-class conditions for successful events, incentives and cultural events. Kap Europa is the first congress centre worldwide to be awarded platinum certification by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) for its green concept.
And in 2023, the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) in the UK singled out Messe Frankfurt for its AEO Excellence Award in the Best Sustainability Initiative category in recognition of its efforts to transform itself into a sustainable event business.