The Construction Industry Goes Green with Ecobuild
Many of us here in the construction industry will have been following the news on the recent Ecobuild exhibition and conference, Britain’s foremost event for forward thinking professionals in the built environment. Thousands of senior level decision makers were in attendance at the exhibition which took place at London’s ExCel Centre to meet industry movers and shakers. The Ecobuild 2017 Conference featured speakers on a wide range of subjects, including the contentious issue of offsite construction.
In a bid to address the burgeoning skills shortage being experience by the construction industry here in the UK, offsite, factory-based construction is being promoted as a viable solution for the future. While investing in traditional construction skills is seen as a cheaper and more flexible solution, off-site construction is seen as a powerful alternative. According to Lucy Homer, Head of Design and Technical at Lendlease, the multinational property and infrastructure company, the construction industry in the UK needs to tackle the stigma surrounding pre-fabricated buildings if modular construction is to flourish in the UK.
During a panel discussion at the Ecobuild exhibition, Homer revealed that developers and contractors need the support and backing of investors and clients early in the life of a project if they want to commit to using modular methods of building. She went on to add that modulation needs to be added right at the beginning of the design process in order to be viable.
Another panel member was Lucy Sullivan, a member of the governments Green Construction Board (GCB) which was launched in 2011 as a consultative forum for government and the UK’s design, construction, property and infrastructure industries. The GCB provides the leadership and action necessary to enable the whole value chain (clients, contractors, product manufacturers and suppliers) to become more environmentally sustainable, more productive and in a better position to exploit the growing global market.
Sullivan believes that an increase in the adoption of modular, off-site construction will act as a brake on the skills gap by enticing new apprentices into the industry. However, she disclosed that there is currently little provision for off-site options in the existing construction apprenticeship schemes, an issue that she is keen to address.
Sustainable housing was at the top of the agenda on Day One of the conference, with a call for the government to slash red tape in order to avoid clogging up the planning system.
The Ecobuild show was a runaway success and well worth a visit for those of us who work in the construction industry in Britain. Next year’s Ecobuild show is already being planned for 6 – 8 March, 2018. If you’ve never been to one of these events and have an interest in building for a cleaner, greener Britain, then why not book your place early? There are so many benefits to attending industry events of this type and Ecobuild is the way to go, especially if you’re planning to go “green”.