Well that’s ecobuild over for another year, and I for one say good! In many ways I think that ecobuild reflects many of the barriers that are preventing our industry delivering the step-change that is required to address the pressing issues of our age. As I walked around the vast, artificially conditioned interior of ExCel London what struck me most powerfully was the gap between presentation and reality.
|Every product has|
In the evolution of sustainable design I believe that we have really not changed much at all; all that has changed is the words that we use to describe products and the spin that is used to emphasise their virtues. Ecobuild is dominated by major global construction product manufacturers and suppliers all of whom have added words like “eco” or “green” to the descriptions of their products and then, in the vast majority of cases, simply continued with business as usual.
The high cost of exhibiting at the show prevents most small companies and start-ups from displaying their wares, so almost all of the really interesting things that one found in the early shows, back in the good old days at
Earls Court, have now disappeared. For me to continue to make the annual pilgrimage to the Royal Docks, this must change. I think that as the UK’s largest construction trade show there is a responsibility incumbent upon UBM, the franchises new owners to give something back, and this should be in the form of small low or no cost stands for small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) and start-ups.
As a practice, we have an initiative called Product of the Month where we ask our team to identify innovative sustainable building products and materials. On average we have noted that it takes at somewhere between 3 and 5 years for the products that we find to appear at ecobuild. Clearly, this would be cut dramatically if they were able to exhibit at low or no cost. Also, by gaining exposure sooner they are more likely to survive and thrive.
There is a pressing need for radical change to make the construction industry relevant and capable of addressing the concerns of our age. The future must be small, local and accountable if we are to deliver intrinsically sustainable development.