How a Portable Structure can Help Create a Sustainable Pop Up


Pop-up shops are a great way to extend your brand further. Brick-and-mortar outlets can use pop ups to experiment with new concepts, move sale items, and collect essential data about consumers. Online retailers can open a pop up to go where their consumers are and personally promote their brand.

The advantages to opening a pop up are plentiful:

  • Brands can tell their story using innovative and artistic methods

  • Turn an average shopping trip into event; something that has to be experienced to be understood

  • Generates FOMO (fear of missing out)

  • Retailers can showcase their ingenuity and creativity

  • Helps boost sales (including for items that previously stagnated?)

  • Enables brands to gather invaluable data about consumers and their buying habits

Unfortunately, one term that’s not often associated with a pop up is sustainability. After all, using materials to build a space for a limited time, then having to cart off and dispose of those same materials can be quite wasteful, even if recycled materials are used (but especially if they are not).

There is a solution with Event Architecture’s modular event structures. These clean, modern structures are perfect for a green pop up. Why? Because they are reusable time and time again. There’s no waste, no discarded building materials, and set up and tear down take minimal effort.

“When moving these modular structures to your location, you can fit quite a bit of square footage onto one truck,” said Tim Bookout, Director of Sales for Event Architecture. “Where something like a shipping container that has been modified to be an event structure takes up the entire space on the truck and requires large equipment, like a crane, to move around, these units are very compact. So, there’s not a lot of waste involved in transportation.”

These portable structures can be put up nearly anywhere, such as a park, vacant lot, beach, under a bridge, etc. Uneven surfaces, like sand or snow, are not a problem. You are only limited by your imagination. And the contemporary design of the buildings will enhance the innovative feeling you are trying to convey with your shop.

These structures look great and so unique that eyes are instantly drawn to them, and they can be fully branded – inside and out. In addition, the front and back entrances feature clear Plexiglas panels and doors, so shoppers can easily check out what’s happening.

“Most of the branding is reusable,” said Bookout. “Whereas, if you’re going to build a semi-permanent structure, something that you put up then tear down to take it somewhere else, much of the time you lose most of the branding: it may be hard panels or plexiglass panels or something like that. Whereas most of the branding on these units is going to be fabric. So, it’s very easy to fold up and set aside, then dismantle the unit, move it to a different location, and then put almost all of it back up again. So that’s one of the nice sustainability features of these units.”

There are a variety of configurations that can be sized up and down to fit your exact requirements. In general, the structures are modular, so they can be mixed and matched as needed.

  • XPO: The XPO single story model is available in two sizes of approximately 20’ and 33’ wide. Extend the depth in increments of 8’ as far as the eye can see, simply by adding on additional AirCells.

  • xDek: Expand space upward with the xDek. This sturdy steel and aluminum freestanding deck was designed so an XPO can fit below it. The xDek provides an upscale, open air space.

  • XPODH: Looking for an open feel? Need more height? Double it with the XPODH. Like the XPO, the depth of the XPODH can be extended, simply by attaching additional AirCells.

  • Yum Yum: the Yum Yum is an 8×8-foot pod that is designed for selling food and merchandise through a hinge-up serving window.

There are no limits to your options. Since flooring panels lock in place to help ensure the structures stand solid, there’s plenty of space under the floor to customize your electric grid. Which means you can include an optional climate control system or even go so far as setting up a fully functional restaurant.

“Every one of the components is going to be used many times before it needs it be replaced. Probably the AirCell is the thing that may wear out the earliest, and a single AirCell will probably be in use for several years. The structure is built out of metal and hard plywood that has laminate on both sides. Those things are going to last years and years,” said Bookout.

Sustainable pop ups are becoming a common subset of pop-up stores. Let’s take a look at some companies that have approached the concept.


TerraCycle is a company that “makes eco-revolutionary products entirely from garbage.”

It opened a pop up in New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal. The Shop showcased a couture dress made wholly from peanut M&M wrappers and featured other TerraCycle products all made from waste. It also served as a collection spot for 30 different types of waste, where folks who made the exchange were given a discount on products.

In addition, TerraCycle teamed with RePlayGround to provide children’s workshops where the kids were able to create new products from food wrappers. It also paired with Natural Fitness and Earth Spirit to offer exercise classes in the shop.


Nau is a Portland-based sustainable apparel company. It opened a pop up in in the heart of SOHO called Here/Nau/NYC.

Nau’s brand philosophy is “that it’s always possible to make things better.” The company focuses on sustainable fabrics, including pioneering some of their own, and philanthropic partnerships.

Here/Nau/NYC was decked out with material from New York City streets, dumpsters, and a warehouse destroyed by a fire. For example, metal pipes are used for clothing racks and the polished display tables are actually made from recycled cardboard boxes.

In addition to selling its own sustainable fashion, Here/Nau/NYC had other like-minded brands available for sale, such as Timberland and Horny Toad. The store also featured performances from a variety of musicians and artists.

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Photo Credit: Snews

The Green Store Cincy

Funded through a grant from the philanthropic organization “People’s Liberty,” The Green Store Cincy is the brainchild of Joi Sears. The pop up’s goal is to provide the necessary tools and products to incorporate sustainability into everyday life.

While working with H&M Germany, Sears conducted a research project that led to this discovery, “I found that, although Millennials say they care about the environment, very few of us actually put our money where our mouth is when it comes to sustainable fashion. And with fashion being the third most polluting industry in the world (after oil and agriculture) we desperately need to change our shopping habits and fast.”

The Green Store Cincy featured Sears’s brand Amsterdamage, an affordable, eco-fashion line. The store also hosted Recycling 101 classes, workshops like Zero Waste Cooking, and a community yoga class called Namast’ay Green.

Is sustainability important to you and your brand? Interested in sustainable pop-up concepts? Give an Event Architecture expert a call at 972-323-9433. Discover how our modular event structures can help you fulfil your goals.