Futurebuild 2020: Supporting transformation across construction

  • 28 Feb 2020

Construction has reached a turning point. In the face of a changing climate, the sector’s carbon footprint is far too high and its environmental performance is simply not sustainable in the long-term. What is needed, according to Futurebuild, is a fundamental transformation in how we create our buildings.   

Key to this transformation is collaboration from both industry and Government. Born in 2018 out of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy and Construction Sector Deal, and funded by £170 from UK Research & Innovation’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), the Transforming Construction Challenge seeks to transform the construction sector – allowing it to produce safe, healthy, efficient building using the latest digital manufacturing techniques.

Futurebuild 2020 will represent an exciting milestone for the initiative, as the three partners involved in the Challenge – the Construction Innovation Hub, the Active Building Centre and the Transforming Construction Network Plus – come together for the first time at the trade event.

In this exclusive feature, Futurebuild has spoken to the partners involved in the Challenge, to discover the story behind the initiative, how it is driving change across the built environment, and what the next steps are.

They will also reveal how and why they will be using Futurebuild 2020 as a platform to speak to industry as one powerful voice, encouraging and supporting the transformation that is so badly needed in the sector.


Introducing the partners

The Construction Innovation Hub

The Construction Innovation Hub’s mission is to be a catalyst for change, transforming UK construction through driving the adoption of manufacturing technologies and digital ways of working that are trusted and secure.

The aim of this is to help boost productivity, exports and asset performance to benefit society.

Setting out the Hub’s vision to be a catalyst for change, programme director Keith Waller will deliver a Keynote session on ‘Driving and delivering innovation’ on day 2 (4 March) on the Offsite Keynote Stage.

This keynote will discuss how world-class expertise from the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) is transforming the sector through manufacturing technologies and digital ways of working.

Speaking in advance of the event, Keith commented: “As the Construction Innovation Hub, we’ve spent the past year mobilising our programme to transform construction. But we know transformation will never progress from ambition to reality unless we take the industry on each step of the journey with us.

“Futurebuild has earned its place as one of the ‘go-to’ events in the construction calendar, with some of the best and brightest innovators in the sector seeking opportunities to turn their innovative ideas into tomorrow’s solutions.

“By joining forces with our Transforming Construction partners, the Active Building Centre and the Transforming Construction Network Plus, as well as our funding provider UKRI, we can use Futurebuild as a platform to speak to industry with one powerful voice, encouraging and supporting the transformation that is so urgently needed for the built environment.”

VIDEO: Keith Waller, Construction Innovation Hub

The Active Building Centre

The Active Building Centre is revolutionising the UK construction and energy sectors by creating networks of interconnected ‘Active Buildings’.

An evolution of passive design, Active Buildings adopt a systems approach, integrating renewable energy technologies with intelligent storage and controls for heat, power and transport needs.

The concept has scaled up from a prototype ‘pod’ in 2015 to more sophisticated test structures. Over the last few years, through data collection, the Swansea-based Active Classroom and Active Office have demonstrated how this type of structure can be effectively specified on a large scale.

The first Active Homes development will shortly go live in Neath, South Wales, with data due to be collected. This project, the first of its kind, will demonstrate the potential Active Buildings present to architects, specifiers, builders and end users.

There is beauty in simplicity and Active Buildings utilises a straightforward system of cutting-edge technology to help achieve a reduction in dependence on National Grid energy.

This includes advanced photovoltaic panels (PV) on the structure’s exterior, combined with a smart storage unit within the building’s fabric and an intuitive release system. Built in large numbers, a unified network of Active Buildings could result in lower levels of carbon emissions and reduced network stress.

The Active Building approach to construction will be discussed and explored in a special session chaired by the Active Building Centre’s Director of Research and Innovation, Dr Ahsan Khan, on day three of the event (5 March) in the Energy Theatre.

Primarily, the session will look at how we can make buildings more affordable, efficient, safer and healthier through the specification of Active methods of design.

Professor Dave Worsley, Principal Investigator at the Active Building Centre, commented: “The UK construction industry has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of both the introduction of modern methods of construction and exciting combinations of technology supporting decarbonisation of the built environment.

“Futurebuild is a welcome opportunity to bring the Active Building Centre and our Transforming Construction partners together with sector innovators, to really start moving on the net zero potential that can already be delivered for our homes, workplaces and infrastructure – an opportunity for research, industry and government to lead this fourth industrial revolution together.”

VIDEO: Dave Worsley, Active Building Centre

VIDEO: Dr Ahsan Khan, Active Building Centre

The Transforming Construction Network Plus

The Transforming Construction Network Plus (N+) aims to mobilise a new movement in the construction community, bringing together experts from a range of disciplines to tackle the most pressing problems across the digital, energy, construction, and manufacturing space.

To do so the N+ is funding a raft of new academic-led projects, which address some of the biggest issues in the construction sector. The projects will act as a catalyst to transform the way we build in the UK.

The N+ research team have a mission to add to the body of knowledge that informs future construction practice and policy. Over the next year, the N+ will be developing research which explores business model and industry change, along with a focused digest series.

The team is working with the academic-led projects funded by the N+ to identify emergent themes that can enhance research investments and accelerate industry transformation.

The N+ is funded by UK Research and Innovation, an investment supported by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The N+ is a joint project between The Bartlett, UCL Faculty of the Built Environment, Imperial College London and WMG, University of Warwick.

Discussing how the construction sector needs to explore the implications for the workforce in the midst of a digital revolution, Professor Jacqueline Glass, Principal Investigator of Transforming Construction Network Plus will be chairing a session on ‘Future of the workforce: delivering MMC’ on day two (4 March) on the Offsite Keynote Stage.

The panellists will paint a picture of a transformed industry and the people that work with in it and will discuss how everyone could contribute to the transformation; from apprentices through to senior professionals.

Professor Jacqueline Glass, Transforming Construction Network Plus Principal Investigator, said: “We are delighted to partner with the Construction Innovation Hub and the Active Building Centre for Futurebuild 2020.

“By combining our efforts to transform the future of UK Construction, we are looking to draw together the very best ideas and practices.

“We want to give visitors a chance to play a part in this wider movement. This is an exciting opportunity for businesses big and small to engage with the Transforming Construction Network Plus and its funded projects.”

VIDEO: Professor Jacqueline Glass, Transforming Construction Network Plus

Bringing the partners together

Futurebuild 2020 is the home of innovation and has long been established as a platform for forward thinkers from across the built environment to come together and help solve the problems facing construction.

Without decisive action and positive collaboration, change will not happen. That is why the partners from the Transforming Construction Challenge are uniting at Futurebuild as the event’s Lead Innovation Partner.

The centrepiece of their presence at Futurebuild will be a centrally located Innovation Lounge. With the Challenge offering a range of opportunities for UK-based researchers and businesses, it will provide visitors with the opportunity to meet experts across the three organisations and find out how they can become involved.

To meet the partners behind the Transforming Construction Challenge and learn about how you can get involved, register for your complimentary ticket today.

Visit Futurebuild's website



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