The sustainability initiatives of the Expo itself echo the aims of World Environment Day – to increase awareness around reducing consumption. The “Towards a Sustainable Expo” provides recognition of sustainable design and practices at the Expo. Among all the countries participating, Mexico and Ireland were identified as leaders in having integrated sustainability into their pavilion design and materials. The program involved the evaluation of participants in the preliminary and definitive design phases of the pavilions, undertaken by the Politecnico di Milano.
Not so obviously promoted were the sustainability features of the Expo more broadly. A chat with the Expo Sustainability Director provided insight into some of the initiatives. The separated waste collection was evidently effective, with clearly labelled bins allowing patrons to easily place their waste in the correct location. Much of the packaging used by caterers was biodegradable or recyclable. Through these initiatives, the Expo is currently diverting 60% of waste from landfill, with a goal to increase it to 70% over the course of the Expo. Organic waste is collected by neat bicycle couriers and composted locally in Milan.
Though pavilions are temporary, the voluntary pavilion sustainability design guidelines encouraged efficient design in order to reduce energy consumption. Most pavilions reduced electricity consumption through the use of LED lighting. Passive designs were also adopted in many pavilions, reducing the requirement for air-conditioning. Notable in this area was the Bahrain Pavilion, which was mostly open to the air but channelled cooling breezes through the space.
The integration of these sustainability features into the Expo meant that it provided an ideal backdrop to the World Environment Day celebrations. Not only did the pavilions exhibit ideas for sustainable food consumption, but also the pavilions and the Expo were in themselves prototypes for sustainable development.