As climate change climbs higher on the agenda in every sector, Futurebuild MD Martin Hurn explains how the show, taking place in March 2020, will be tackling the issues its audience care about most.
What is Futurebuild’s role in changing the future of the industry it serves?
Every time you go on social media, watch or listen to the news the message around climate change is clear – we’re at crisis point and we’re running out of time to take action. Whether it’s increasing sea levels and pollution, or rising temperatures and food shortages, there’s no question that we must radically change our approach and behave differently if we are going to prevent catastrophic impacts to our planet.
What’s been so interesting recently is the momentum around this topic and the number of voices making themselves heard. Individuals such as Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough are not only backed by movements such as Extinction Rebellion, their narrative is now echoed by the government’s declaration of a climate emergency. In recent weeks, this has filtered out across the built environment with architects and designers making a real statement of intent.
While all this ‘noise’ is hugely welcome, what’s really needed is action. Those people who are declaring climate emergencies or a climate crisis need to back up their words with action.
This is why Futurebuild’s purpose has never been more important. The event exists to drive real change in the built environment. In order for change to happen we need new products and processes, but we understand how difficult the specification process can be – from complex supply chains to cost approvals of new materials. Futurebuild aims to make this a reality by bringing together key decision makers and mobilisers with brands of all sizes to share innovations, to collaboratively tackle the biggest issues facing the built environment.
How do you want exhibitors to play a part?
As I’ve said, changing our behaviour and approach is the only way to solve the biggest challenges, and the solution lies with our exhibitors. They have real power to influence the built environment and when people are inspired to do things differently, real change happens.
At Futurebuild 2019, 71 per cent of our visitors stated that they wanted to find new products and innovations. Our exhibitors have a real opportunity to put their latest technologies in front of a captive audience who are increasingly demanding new solutions.
Often, we can all get caught up in the enormity of the challenges we’re facing, that we forget that even implementing a simple change such as making a process more efficient or sustainable is just as important as say, creating a ground-breaking new material.
Of course, we can’t tackle these challenges alone, we need to demand more from one another and from industry. We need people across sectors and disciplines to unite and collaborate, take a multi-faceted approach to collectively bring about change.
Futurebuild exists to be that collaborative platform, for exhibitors and visitors to come together and spark ideas off each other. For change and innovation 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.
How is Futurebuild different to other events?
We know that people are time poor and have a lot of options when it comes to events, so standing out from the crowd is a challenge. What makes Futurebuild different is its higher purpose, as the industry’s catalyst for innovation.
Often events within the sector talk about their focus on innovation but don’t always deliver this in reality. But at Futurebuild we really bring innovation to life – we see Futurebuild 2020 as the go-to destination for innovation in the built environment, brought to life on a scale that’s never been seen before.
We really want to demonstrate that innovation is more than a concept. Our innovation partnerships with exhibitors will elevate those who are determined to make a difference to the future of the built environment. We want everyone to play their role. It is much more powerful for four or five exhibitors to talk about innovation and change than just one, but imagine if over 400 brands joined as one on the topic to really drive it home.
What’s new for Futurebuild 2020?
We’re committed to demonstrating practical solutions to the challenges facing the built environment. We recognise the innovation that our exhibitors will be showcasing and we want to support this and maximise this investment in every way we can. This will not only be demonstrated through our innovation partnerships, but through a showcase of the latest technological advances and an Innovation Trail exploring the immersive exhibition with destinations visitors just won’t want to miss.
At Futurebuild innovation isn’t just about talking the talk, it’s walking the walk, too. We don’t talk about the big issues and best innovations just to put them in a corner, they’re centre-stage and in the spotlight right across Futurebuild.
Our investment in innovation will also be shown with the return of The Big Innovation Pitch. This will be the industry’s largest call for entry for small/start-up innovators doing new and unique things that could deliver better 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 challenges facing the built environment. These will feature daily keynote sessions from leading industry figures and household names covering energy, buildings, resourceful materials, offsite, interiors and infrastructure. The keynote stages will also host the Big Innovation Pitch Live sessions on day one. This elevated programme of content will enable visitors to take action to tackle the challenges they face in their professional lives through interactive sessions and a showcase of the latest innovations.
Let’s look at carbon for example, buildings are responsible for 40 per cent of energy-related CO2 emissions worldwide . Our energy and buildings keynote stages will explore how the industry can construct and design buildings to perform and consider carbon impact.
The UK is facing a major housing shortage with almost a third of councils in England failing a new government test of whether they are building enough new homes for local people . There are real doubts that our current supply chain is able to deliver high quality solutions at scale, so Futurebuild 2020 is putting a real focus on retrofit. This will not only be focus at our buildings and infrastructure keynote stages 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 which will offer bitesize training for local authorities, housing associations and housebuilders.
The benefits of digital construction and BIM are other key areas we will shine a light on. From increasing efficiencies, to eliminating and minimising mistakes on the construction site, the digital impact area at the event will demonstrate all of the latest technological advances.
We are keen to address the challenges facing the built environment across area of the event, that’s why 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. This programme will be a catalyst for the change that is needed across the built environment.
We really value the importance of collaboration, so one thing we’re keen to focus on at Futurebuild 2020, is networking.
This is why, as well as dedicated networking areas within each section and our circular bar, cafes and bookshops, we have also changed our programme timings to extend the time our exhibitors and industry professionals have to exchange knowledge and ideas.
For change to happen it needs to be embraced. Ideas must be shared; collaboration must be encouraged and we should all play our part.