Thursday 17 May 2012

Looking back on Ecobuild 2012

This year’s visit to Ecobuild in March on behalf of Tollé Green Architecture extended to two days due to the size of the exhibition and the interesting talks and seminars. A few personal impressions and images above follow.

The dramatic increase in popularity of Ecobuild 2012 was immediately apparent in the increasing crush on the Light Dockland’s Railway leading to Excel, where the event was taking place. Now the largest “green” exhibition in the world, Ecobuild 2012 filled both the exhibition halls of the venue.

Ecobuild has matured over the years with larger international companies like Balfour Beatty and Schueko featuring as well as the venerable BRE. Renewable systems such as photovoltaics were very well represented. Water management was particularly relevant as the current drought is still extant despite the heavy rainfall. LED energy efficient lighting is also coming of age with larger LEDs offering alternatives to using groups or strips of smaller LEDs behind diffusers.

Energy management in domestic and commercial properties appears to be entering a second generation phase. The obvious choices of double glazing, better roof insulation and cavity wall filling are now well into maturity and acceptance in the UK. The the next big challenge will be the “Hard to treat” properties. The majority comprise solid wall buildings from some of the oldest housing stock, where external or internal insulation is the only solution.

More intelligent energy management both in construction, in day to day use and during the lifetime of the building was another item of future importance. Useful piece of information gained – the average pupil generates 65W energy just by sitting in a classroom!

Green roofing caught my attention for two reasons. First was the rationale for its use. I had originally thought that green roofing provided additional insulation, but apparently wet soil negates the beneficial effect of any additional layers on a roof. The true benefit lies in the provision of replacement or additional green environments or niches that would otherwise have been lost under the footprint of the building. Second was the sophistication of the layering and patterning of subsoil drainage onto which the green roofs were established.

Following on from the Exhibition there are three threads that I have been more aware of:

  1. More sophisticated green solutions are available in a mature market
  2. Looking out for the impact of the Green Deal over the coming year
  3. The increasing use of BIM (Buildings Information Modelling) in building construction and lifetime management.
Tollé Green Architecture is interested in ethical and environmentally responsible UK partners for construction, housing projects and retrofitting. Contact Chris.

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