Sustainable housing topped Ecobuild agenda

15 March 2017

Over 20,000 industry professionals flooded Ecobuild 2017 last week to explore the latest innovations from more than 450 leading exhibitors, join the Redefining Sustainability debate and discuss the key issues currently facing the built environment.

The event was presented in an “immersive” cityscape format this year to reflect the show’s overarching theme of regeneration. As such, Ecobuild 2017 featured a series of ‘districts’ – each with dedicated seminar programmes – covering key topics, including green infrastructure, offsite construction and the circular economy.

The Arena was home of the Ecobuild 2017 conference programme. It welcomed an impressive roster of high-profile speakers, including Tony Pidgley, chairman of Berkley Homes; Michael Portillo, former defence minister; Lord Foster of Bath; Ben Derbyshire, RIBA president-elect; and Jules Pipe, deputy mayor of planning, regeneration and skills at the Greater London Authority.

Sustainable housing topped the agenda for day one, with Pidgley calling for Government to slash more red tape to avoid clogging up the planning system. Day two saw transport and affordable housing take the lead as Derbyshire pledged his support in created a building programme that would create 70,000 new homes be constructed in the outer suburbs of London. The final day delved into the impact of Brexit on the construction industry, autonomous cars and the future of urban transport.

Visitors to the show witnessed a long list of industry firsts, the organisers said, as well as exclusive product launches and live demonstrations from a wide range of exhibitors and partners. These included WorldGBC plans to launch a ‘Homes Wellbeing Lab’ in the UK, Freiraum Kollective’s showcase of its Pallet Homes Project to create homes in Kenya and Structural Timber Association’s (STA) new guide on the ‘Robustness of CLT Structures’. Also unveiled was the Good Homes Alliance’s Charter for Responsible Housing and Saint-Gobain’s UK Homes, Health and Wellbeing report.

Martin Hurn, managing director of Ecobuild, said: “A lot has changed in the 14 years since Ecobuild began, so it’s important that we maintain a strong focus on updating and refreshing the agenda to meet the latest industry priorities, challenges and developments. From the feedback we’ve received so far, we’ve certainly succeeded in doing that this year. It was inspiring to see so many in-depth conversations about what’s next for sustainability in the built environment, conversations that I’m sure will continue to develop well into the future.

“On the exhibitor floor, there’s been a good balance of sharing existing products, solutions and initiatives, and discussing emerging concepts and ideas. Something new was happening every day at the show, whether it be virtual reality testing or live demonstrations: there really was something for everyone.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to everybody who attended, exhibited, partnered and of course the extensive list of expert speakers. I look forward to our ongoing collaboration with forward-thinking individuals and organisations across the industry as we continue to shape the agenda for the future of a more sustainable built environment together.”

In terms of industry reaction, “Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of UK-GBC, said “Ecobuild 2017 has been a great place to connect with people and exchange views about the state of sustainability in the built environment.

“UK-GBC has curated leadership insight sessions on the future of sustainable housing, workplaces and retail. Our seminars have covered a wide range of topics including: embodied carbon, science based targets, healthy homes, breakthrough innovation, retrofit and making sustainability in the built environment mainstream.”

Lizzie Seaton, head of marketing at Celotex, said: “We’ve been here for five years, and we’ve got bigger and better each year. The content within the show this year has been fantastic, and it means the footfall has been huge – it’s even been a challenge to keep up with the numbers of people visiting our stand. Within the first morning, we hit 25% of our targets. The quality of people we’re speaking too and the projects they’re working on has also been really high.”

Stuart Devoil, head of marketing and brand at Medite SmartPly, said: “There’s been great footfall throughout the event, and we’ve been able to demo new, innovative products that visitors have been genuinely interested in and intrigued about. We’ve also noticed a big sustainability and low energy construction focus which is what Ecobuild is all about.”