Showcasing sustainability at Ecobuild

Ecobuild will return on 7-9 March with a renewed focus on enabling sustainable construction for 2017 and beyond. Government Business previews the show and the industry-wide conversation being voiced on the government’s sustainability agenda

Ecobuild, the leading exhibition and conference for construction, design and energy in the built environment, returns on 7-9 March with an overarching theme of regeneration, which will be brought to life through an immersive exhibition and conference programme that will redefine sustainability, identify future growth sectors and tackle the housing crisis.

For public sector professionals, this presents a unique opportunity to be part of the construction industry’s debate on the key issues that influence planning and decision making in local and central government. From the implications of offsite construction and upgrading and retrofitting housing, to exploring different ways in which built environment could help create healthy, thriving communities, those working in the public sector will have access to expert opinions that can ultimately help them make informed business choices.

Regeneration drive
To bring the regeneration theme to life, Ecobuild 2017 will see the show transformed into a ‘city’ – complete with a main street, distinct destinations and special feature attractions. Central to the experience will be Regeneration Drive, a boulevard running through the centre of the exhibition floor, linking different aspects of the show and enabling visitors to experience the very best examples of innovation and creativity from across the built environment.

As they make their way up Regeneration Drive, attendees will be introduced to key destinations such as The Arena, City Hall, The Campus, The Gateway and The Performance Lab.

The Arena will be home to the Ecobuild conference, staging a range of high level keynotes and panel debates from industry and government thought leaders and innovators across the three days, with speakers including Lord Kerslake, Lord Michael Dobbs, Baroness Young of Old Scone and Lord Foster of Bath.

Against a backdrop of political and economic change, with the biggest demands on infrastructure and housing supply, the conference will look at current priorities and the solutions for the future, leaving public sector professionals well-equipped with the insights, tools and connections to make better business choices.

The show’s sustainability hub, City Hall, will see sessions hosted by the UK-GBC and World Green Building Council. Working in close partnership, UK-GBC will support Ecobuild in delivering an exclusive content programme exploring key issues around sustainability, leadership and innovation.

In line with UK-GBC’s leadership and innovation focus, the organisation will host the sustainability theatre housed at Ecobuild’s ‘City Hall’ feature, with a programme of seminars and debates on the hot topics of sustainability including carbon reduction in the built environment, disruptive innovation and healthy workplaces for productive employees. As part of the Ecobuild conference programme, UK-GBC’s chief executive, Julie Hirigoyen, will also chair a series of thought-provoking leadership insight sessions on the future of sustainable housing, workplace and retail.

Focus on district energy
A brand new partnership sees Ecobuild and UK District Energy Association creating a new and exciting area: the ukDEA District Energy Town Square, host to leading British suppliers and also international pavilions from Sweden and Denmark, two of the most mature district energy markets in the world.

The ukDEA District Energy Town Square will act as a focal point for visitors who want to learn about the advantages of local heating and cooling networks. Exhibitors in the ukDEA District Energy Town Square will showcase the latest technology and systems, while a dedicated seminar theatre will host 36 informative sessions, sharing case studies, business models and best practice from the UK, Scandinavia, and beyond. Reflecting growing interest in the sector, each day of the show will focus on a different sector: local authorities; private and public sector housing developers and universities and campus-style networks.

Focus on offsite construction
In response to the increased government and industry focus on offsite construction, Ecobuild has partnered with Explore Offsite to bring a significant showcase of the exciting opportunities offered by offsite technology, with the industry’s leading suppliers and a series of daily masterclasses.

Explore Offsite at Ecobuild, in partnership with Cogent Consulting, Offsite Magazine and the Offsite Hub, will be a dedicated show area focused on offsite technology in the future of construction, through a three-day seminar programme and exhibition. By focusing on technology and product innovation, the extensive calendar of masterclasses and demonstrations will highlight the benefits of offsite technology across the built environment - from housebuilding to infrastructure.

The offsite exhibition will showcase each of the six main types of offsite construction - modular volumetric; steel; timber; concrete; roofing and MEP/pods. Offsite construction is contributing to resource efficiency, the circular economy and diversifying the skill set in the built environment, all of which will be evidenced by a range of leading exhibitors representing the sector at Ecobuild 2017.

Explore Offsite at Ecobuild comes at a time when the government is acknowledging the substantial potential of offsite construction. Housing Minister Gavin Barwell is due to look at ways to utilise offsite technology to build 100,000 modular homes in a white paper over the course of this Parliament, in a bid to tackle the housing shortage.

With the UK also facing a potential shortage of primary school places, the exhibit will feature the latest innovations in offsite construction to create additional classrooms or add storeys to existing school buildings. Visitors will be able to see how extensions can be manufactured away from the building and craned into place in a matter of weeks – offering a sustainable choice by reducing vehicle journeys and increasing efficiency.

Conference programme
The housing crisis is one of the key issues to be addressed during the conference and will be tackled in a session titled ‘Homes for all – the best way forward’ (scheduled to take place on the first day of the show), as well as within other discussions. As one of the most serious challenges facing government, the housing crisis will be examined by a panel of experts including Lord Kerslake; Julia Park, head of Housing Research, Levitt Bernstein; Jonathan Goring, managing director, Lovell and Simon Rawlinson, partner, head of Strategic Research and Insight, Arcadis. The panelists will discuss how the industry can deliver high-quality, sustainable homes that integrate into existing communities and how social housing could be used to abate the housing crisis.

In a separate session, scheduled to take place on the second day of the show, Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor for Planning Regeneration and Skills, Greater London Authority, along with Graeme Craig, commercial development director for Transport for London, and other high-profile speakers, will be debating ways of achieving the best possible balance between offering affordable housing and other desirable outcomes including sound public transport, without stalling the provision of new homes.

Led by Dr Diana Montgomery, chief executive, Construction Products Association; Oliver Campbell, senior development manager, Linkcity, and Brian Berry, chief executive, Federation of Master Builders, an insightful session on the challenges and opportunities presented by Brexit for UK construction will be fundamental to those involved in public sector building and construction. The session (scheduled to take place on the third day of the show) will explore the relationship between the UK construction industry and Europe.

The seminars
Along Regeneration Drive, visitors will find a host of other destination features and seminars. City Hall is the destination for Ecobuild’s ‘Redefining Sustainability’ seminar programme, where topics include carbon reduction in the built environment, explored in a session hosted by Ecobuild’s strategic lead partner UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC), as well as possible approaches to social sustainability. The former will be focused on the business case for setting science-based targets (SBTs) within the industry, while the latter will debate whether retrofit could be a viable form of regeneration.

In addition, Terri Wills, CEO WorldGBC, will be chairing a session on the WorldGBC Advancing Net Zero project which is designed to introduce Net Zero certifications into global markets as a starting point for creating emission-free buildings. The panel will discuss the role of the public sector, amongst other factors, in enabling the development of a carbon neutral built environment.

The Performance Lab will showcase the latest in building performance and energy efficiency, with content produced in association with Ecobuild’s building performance partner, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE). CIBSE will host daily sessions on indoor health and wellbeing, exploring how the WELL Standard relates to existing sustainability standards such as BREEAM and LEED. With construction booming in London, the Performance Lab will also include a session which will examine the impacts of the Greater London Authority’s zero carbon standard, introduced in October last year (scheduled to take place on the second day of the show).

Meanwhile, within The Gateway feature area, the ‘Green Infrastructure’ seminar sessions will discuss the various elements of an integrated approach combining green (natural), blue (water) and grey (engineered) infrastructure, to combat the negative effects of climate change and build long-term urban resilience. Topics will range from legislation around water management systems maintenance to the funding and stewardship of urban green and blue infrastructure by public sector bodies in times of austerity. In a case study based session, Chryse Tinsley, landscape planner at Leicester City Council, will be discussing climate proofing in Leicester (scheduled to take place on the third day of the show).

The Gateway is also home to the Civils Theatre in partnership with ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers), where visitors will discuss and explore national and community infrastructure developments including major projects. Public sector professionals will be able to learn more about major projects at the industry level and across the entire supply chain. The exhibit, alongside seminar sessions will encourage full audience debates across six key themes over three days, including power, transport, water, waste, gas and smart cities.

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