For some, EcoBuild UK is a forum. For others, it’s a chance to showcase their fresh sustainable ideas and strategies. For us at gb&d, EcoBuild was a chance to escape Chicago’s stubborn, late winter bleakness and get to London for a few days to hang out with some leading international sustainability professionals, check the pulse of the greater sustainability scene (it’s strong and only getting stronger), and, of course, eat some classic fish ’n’ chips.
EcoBuild, the UK’s version of Greenbuild, was founded in 2004 and originally was held at a brewery for a few hundred building professionals. This year, on the conference’s 10th anniversary, events were held March 4–6 at the massive ExCeL London with more than 44,500 sustainability professionals and exhibitors in attendance.
Central to this year’s theme was the topic of sustainable building resilience in the face of economic hardship, and how the industry has grown despite setbacks. That attendance was up three percent from last year says as much. Other topics discussed at the conference included energy performance, alternative energy, building material trends (including a lot of timber talk), and other exciting sustainable topics.
We had a chance to connect with Christina Gulvanessian, head of membership and marketing for the UK Green Building Council, which was one of the main sponsors for this year’s conference. Beyond the standard sponsorship fare, the UKGBC also helped design the seminar program that took place on the show floor itself—a first for the conference. This made for an engaging dynamic on the show floor, and we had a chance to connect with a number of leading manufacturers and other industry players, including Kingspan, Viessman, Mitsubishi, and Internorm.
Another major highlight was the BREEAM Awards presentation. BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology), established in 1990, was one of the first environmental assessment methods developed for rating building performance. Its authority continues, and at this year’s EcoBuild, the awards ceremony recognized some of the top-rated BREEAM buildings and partners, including Quadrant 2 South (offices), Prince Charles House (mixed use), Grontmij Limited (assessor company of the year), and others.
There were more than 1,300 exhibitors, 100 free seminars, 600 speakers, and an endless amount of things to pick up, play with, and learn. Windows and doors were a popular show room theme due to an increased focus on creating energy-efficient building envelopes, and we also got to visit the solar-powered and exceptionally designed Crystal building, the ‘sustainable cities initiative’ created by Siemens and designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects.
A highlight was our stay at the nearby Lancaster London Hotel, which has more than a few impressive sustainability initiatives: it produces zero landfill waste and hosts the London Honey Show (it maintains beehives on its second floor roof), just to name a few.
Despite having to leave London at the end of the conference to return to ‘Chiberia,’ we left feeling warm, invigorated, and excited for all the great things happening not only with EcoBuild and green building in the UK, but the growing momentum for sustainability as an industry worldwide.