Futurebuild discusses creating positive change with climate crisis high on the agenda

  • 6 Aug 2019

With the climate crisis high on the agenda of businesses across the world, Futurebuild‘s managing director, Martin Hurn, explains how the event will inspire exhibitors and visitors that making one change, can change the future.

The built environment must be carbon-neutral by 2050 if we are to limit global warming to below 2 degrees celsius. This is why the mission for Futurebuild 2020 has never been clearer: to be the catalyst for positive and necessary change across the industry.

With the UK Government recently declaring a climate emergency, it is clear that we need to take action and change our approach before it is too late.

The built environment has the opportunity to take a leading role in bringing about this change. From the way we design and construct buildings to finding clean, alternative power sources.

The UK is already forecast to miss existing carbon targets in 2025 and 2030, so it’s clear that hitting the zero-emissions mark by 2050 will only be possible with a major step-change in terms of the scale and ambition of government policy and the industry coming together to share innovations, solutions and processes.

However, embracing the solutions and technologies needed to make these changes can be difficult. This is where the Futurebuild event comes in, as it exists to bring together key decision-makers and mobilisers with brands of all sizes to share practical solutions and innovations to the challenges we’re facing, to be a catalyst for change and tackle the biggest issues facing the built environment.

Change one thing

Buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of energy-related CO2 emissions worldwide. As a result, various green building councils around the world are calling for a global agreement to standardise carbon metrics for measuring and reporting the sustainability performance of buildings. 

A more robust assessment is needed when it comes to measuring whole life carbon, analysing the operational impact from heating and lighting. Then, when it comes to specifying high-carbon materials for buildings such as cement and concrete, we need to focus on recycled, low-carbon alternatives.

We need people across sectors and disciplines from specifiers to architects to unite and collaborate, taking a multi-faceted approach to collectively bring about change. When people are inspired to do things differently, real change happens. 

Let’s look at Canada for example, the country declared a climate emergency in January, and announced it will have “net-zero energy-ready” building codes in place by 2030. This means that buildings may continue to use fossil fuels, but will be equipped with infrastructure to switch to on-site renewables.

Often, we can all get caught up in the enormity of the challenges we’re facing, that we forget that even implementing one simple change can make all the difference. For example, imagine if all the countries in the world pledged to make a change in the way they design and construct buildings, this collaborative approach would have a massive impact in meeting our climate change targets.

Futurebuild exists to be that collaborative platform, for exhibitors and visitors to come together and spark ideas off each other. For change to succeed we need great people collaborating together, we need to understand that our products, ways of thinking and knowledge are made so much stronger if we work together.

Embracing change

Here at Futurebuild, we completely understand that change can be difficult. It is stifled at every turn by legislation, regulations and an unwillingness to think and act differently. In fact, it takes a certain type of person to drive change, to want to make a significant difference. From politicians and academics to forward-thinking big brands and disruptive SMEs, Futurebuild brings together those with the power to have a groundbreaking impact on the built environment.

Of course, we can’t tackle these challenges alone, we need to demand more from one another and to put better products and ways of working at the heart of everything we do. 

Bringing innovation to life

One ingredient that’s vital to driving this change, be it incremental or radical, is innovation. Futurebuild 2020 will be the home for innovation in the built environment, brought to life on a scale that’s never been seen before. We want the industry to understand what is needed to drive the industry forward. We aren’t just talking about new shiny products – innovation is all encompassing – it can be new thinking, materials, processes and solutions.

Where other events may talk about their commitment to innovation, the reality isn’t necessarily as bold or backed with real substance. Futurebuild 2020 will help to facilitate research and investment in innovation through every aspect of the event. Our feedback from Futurebuild 2019 shows that there is real appetite for this, with 71% of our visitors stating that they wanted to find new products and innovations. Exhibitors have a real opportunity to put their products in front of a highly receptive audience.

Putting actions behind our words

From a showcase of the latest technological advances and innovation trails exploring the immersive exhibition, Futurebuild 2020 will elevate innovation beyond a concept.

Our investment in innovation will be shown with the return of The Big Innovation Pitch. This will be the industry’s largest call for small/start-up innovators doing new and unique things that could deliver impactful results for the future of the built environment. We’re partnering with a number of leading brands driving innovation in their sector to inspire our visitors and encourage more brands to take the step towards better solutions.

Six keynote stages will provide visitors with both innovations and education to address the biggest issues facing the built environment. These will feature daily sessions from leading industry figures and household names covering energy, buildings, resourceful materials, offsite, interiors and infrastructure.

This elevated programme of content will enable visitors to apply practical solutions to the challenges they face in their professional lives through interactive workshops and a showcase of the latest technologies.

Let’s look at the issue of plastic waste for example, 91% of plastic isn’t recycled and every day approximately eight million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans. This issue of plastic pollution has recently inspired a government initiative to lead global innovation in sustainable plastics. Our Resourceful Materials keynote stage will inspire visitors to assess their relationship with materials and reduce, reuse and recycle – moving us closer to a circular economy.

Another challenge high on the built environment’s agenda is housing. It’s widely reported that the government’s target of building 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the next decade won’t be met without changes to the way our industry operates.

This is also why Futurebuild 2020 will put a real focus on retrofit. Not only will this be a key theme in our Buildings keynote stage but our Whole House Retrofit Zone will demonstrate how large-scale energy efficiency can be delivered in UK housing. This will be done through curated seminars, clinics, an exhibition showcase and the Retrofit Academy offering bitesize training for local authorities, housing associations and housebuilders.

We understand that digitalisation is also key to making the industry more efficient. From helping to eliminate mistakes to speeding up the decision cycle, the digital impact area will demonstrate all of the latest technological advances in these fields.

Agenda setting conference

We are keen to address the challenges facing the built environment across all areas of the event, so for 2020 we are evolving our agenda setting conference. The programme will have a three-day progression, making it even more valuable to visitors. The central theme will be on how to respond to the climate and ecological crisis facing us and commit to making a change. The arena will be home to debate, and discussion led by politicians, academics and industry shapers.

Futurebuild 2020 is calling for innovators across the UK and beyond who are determined to make a difference to the future of the built environment. With a shared understanding that just making one change can make a difference, together, we have the power to implement widespread change across the industry and prevent the disastrous impacts the planet is facing.

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