The pressures on today’s environment are many and Ecobuild is the stimulating forum in which to explore, exchange and debate the possible solutions.
Ike Ijeh picks out some of the key themes at this year’s event

Marks&Spencer, Cheshire Oaks

Building Performance & BIM

With BIM (Level 2) being mandated for all central government projects from 2016, the digital modelling system promises to play an ever-increasing role in the construction industry. But what can BIM do to help bridge the performance gap? Newly completed buildings can use 200-300% more energy than predicted at design stage. Regulations stipulating environmental performance are one thing, but what’s really being achieved if performance still lags behind? And is there anything BIM can do to help?

These are the core issues that will be discussed at the Building Performance & BIM content zone and conference sessions at this year’s Ecobuild. The content zone includes seminars providing an invaluable series of case studies, analyses and best practice examples demonstrating how the gap between assessment and performance can be narrowed.

Key zone themes will be government soft landings, underperforming homes, behavioural issue and overheating. Similarly, the seminar stream will present assorted panels of industry experts who will be expanding on these themes. Contributors will include Professor Paul Ruyssevelt of the UCL Energy Institute who will be chairing a session looking at how low energy aspirations can be converted into reality; Rob Pannell of the Zero Carbon Hub, who will be sharing his organisation’s findings regarding discrepancies between predicted and as-built energy performance in homes, and BRE director Nick Tune, who will be assessing how BIM can deliver value in operation as well as construction.

Essential Ecobuild sessions

Tuesday 4 March 2014 10.30-11.30
Conference: The performance gap - is there a solution?

Tuesday 4 March 14.30-16.00
Seminar: HM Government BIM Task Group: achieving better operational outcomes

Tuesday 4 March 16.15-17.45
Seminar: Converting low energy aspirations into low energy buildings

Wednesday 5 March 12.00-13.00
Conference: What really counts - green design ratings or measured building performance?

Wednesday 5 March 12.30-14.00
Seminar: Government Soft Landings explained - closing the performance gap

Thursday 6 March 10.30-12.00
Seminar: BIM: getting value in the operational phase

Thursday 6 March 14.15-15.45
Seminar: Overcoming procurement challenges to close the performance gap

Arena 2 at Ecobuild

Future Cities

Today around 3.5 billion people across the world live in urbanised areas, just under half of the world’s population. In barely 15 years this is expected to balloon to 5 billion, over two-thirds of the world’s population. For the first time in human history cities will no longer merely represent one end of an economic or lifestyle choice between town and country, they will become the majority, defining factor in how we inhabit and influence our planet.

The Future Cities Zone will be one of six content zones that will deliver practical and applied information focusing on essential sustainability issues for industry professionals. Future Cities will bring together a vast range of topics related to how we can create and nurture truly sustainable communities where people live, work and play with minimal negative impact on the environment. Topics under discussion in the seminars will include sustainable transport, green and blue infrastructure, smart cities, energy networks and how to create thriving, successful neighbourhoods. Renowned speakers drawn from a broad cross-section of industry expertise will deliver the sessions. These will include Lars Gemzøe, co-founder of legendary Danish urbanists Gehl Architects who will be taking part in a session titled Making Cities Fit For Everyone; David Rudlin of environmental urban designers Urbed, who will be discussing sustainable neighbourhoods; and Arup director Volker Buscher, who will be presenting radical ideas on smart cities and digital urbanism. And to put ideas into practice, the results of Ecobuild and the Landscape Institute’s Greening the Docks competition looking at regeneration proposals for London’s Royal Docks, once the world’s biggest, will also be announced after a specially chaired debate.

Essential Ecobuild sessions

Tuesday 4 March 12.00-13.00
Conference: Making smart cities happen

Tuesday 4 March 14.30-16.00
Seminar: Making smart cities happen - lessons from the pioneers

Tuesday 4 March 10.45-12.15
Seminar: Sustainable neighbourhoods in the digital age

Wednesday 5 March 12.30-14.00
Seminar: Making cities fit for everyone

Wednesday 5 March 16.30-17.30
Conference: Greening the docks - a competition with Ecobuild and the Landscape Institute

Thursday 6 March 10.30-12.00
Seminar: The natural capital city - a blueprint for the future?

Thursday 6 March 13.30-14.30
Conference: The Ecobuild Debate; do we have a blueprint for the resilient city of the future?

Troubled Waters

This winter Britain has been battered by some of the worst flooding seen in decades. Since January (the wettest since records began), sea defences across the country have been breached, much of Somerset has become waterborne, Wales and Cornwall have been battered by record-breaking waves, winds and rain, and the Thames has swelled to the highest recorded levels since 1947, flooding scores of towns and villages across the Thames Valley and threatening the western reaches of the capital. What can we do to minimise the risk of flooding and adapt our buildings and environment to withstand future surges? Ecobuild will try to provide some answers by hosting a broad range of sessions and debates that will explore what the recent flooding means for construction and gauge the wider constraints and opportunities water presents in our built and natural environments. Speakers will be drawn from a broad range of professionals, academics and politicians which will include the likes of ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone and LSE professor of urban studies Ricky Burdett. Both will take part in the Ecobuild Debate which will question how resilient the city of the future will be. Seminar sessions hosted in the water, waste and materials, and the Future Cities content zones will focus on water-sensitive urban design, strategic water cycle management, the concealed impact of water on the supply chain and how the UK can avoid future flooding and droughts.


Source: PA photos

Essential Ecobuild sessions

Tuesday 4 March 10.45-12.15
Seminar: The value of green infrastructure and water management

Wednesday 5 March 10.30-12.00
Seminar: The resilient city - understanding and overcoming the challenge

Wednesday 5 March 14.30-16.00
Seminar: Water sensitive urban design - managing urban water

Wednesday 5 March 10.45-12.15
Seminar: Future resilience - floods, droughts and implications for development.

Thursday 6 March 12.30-14.00
Seminar: Integrated joined up thinking on water - a briefing for delivery

Thursday 6 March 13.30-14.30
Conference: The Ecobuild Debate; do we have a blueprint for the resilient city of the future?

Fracking: Friend or Foe?

Fracking promises to be the new frontier of environmental exploration and controversy over the coming decades. But with a government seemingly determined to encourage the process despite fierce opposition from some environmental groups, it will almost certainly continue to sharply divide opinion. Ecobuild will ask if fracking is the answer to the UK’s energy future. How does the government address the growing challenge of replacing old, environmentally damaging energy sources with newer alternatives that keep an already indignant public’s household bills down? Where does fracking leave nuclear energy, once feted as the successor to fossil fuels? And does fracking really represent the new energy dawn some claim or will it spell environmental catastrophe for an already fragile planet? These are the issues that will be discussed in a dedicated conference session titled Fracking, nuclear, renewable or fusion - what is our energy future? Taking part will be professor Paul Ekins from UCL’s Energy Institute, Nina Skorupska, CEO of the Renewable Energy Association and professor Steve Cowley, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. The Green Energy content zone will include content on the cost-effective provision of low and zero carbon energy in buildings, including economic ways of meeting the new regulations and getting the balance right between fabric and renewable energy technologies.


Source: PA photos

Essential Ecobuild sessions

Tuesday 4 March 15.00 - 16.00
Conference: Localised energy or the Green Deal?

Tuesday 4 March 16.15 - 17.45
Seminar: Advances in PV technologies

Wednesday 5 March 14.30 - 16.00
Seminar: Localised/neighbourhood energy solutions

Wednesday 5 March 14.45 - 15.45
Conference: Fracking, nuclear, renewables or fusion - what is our energy future?

Thursday 6 March 10.30 - 12.00
Seminar: Benefitting from the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI)

Thursday 6 March 14.15 - 15.45
Seminar: Advances in energy storage technologies

Double Arenas

Due to last year’s overwhelming audience response, this year for the first time we’ll be introducing two conference arenas instead of one. They will be located in the North and South Arenas and each one will be present a tantalising itinerary of discussions and debates jam-packed with radical ways of thinking and challenging new ideas. Once again a stellar line-up of experts, politicians and celebrities will be on hand to disseminate and discuss in order to provide the audience with the critical information they need about the issues facing our cities, infrastructure and built environment. Journalist and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter will take part in the Ecobuild 10th Anniversary Talks which will provide personal perspectives on a sustainability journey; reknowned architectural critic and writer Joseph Rykwert will be in conversation with Independent newspaper architectural critic Jay Merrick about how public realm and private wealth can be balanced; and Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud will help assess whether custom housing can help solve the housing crisis. Elsewhere, Ed Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, will talk about how energy efficiency can be delivered to customers; Lord Deben will take part in the Ecobuild Debate asking if democracy can deliver sustainability; and RIBA president Stephen Hodder will question if micro homes might be a sustainable solution for an expanding population.

Essential Ecobuild sessions

Tuesday 4 March 10.30 - 11.30
Conference: Micro homes for an expanding population - the only sustainable solution?

Tuesday 4 March 12.00 - 13.00
Conference: The Ecobuild Debate - can democracy deliver sustainability?

Tuesday 4 March 15.00 - 16.00
Conference: Private wealth, public realm: have we got the balance right? A talk by Joseph Rykwert, RIBA Gold Medallist 2014

Tuesday 4 March 16.30 - 17.30
Conference: The Ecobuild 10th anniversary talks - five perspectives on the sustainability journey

Wednesday 5 March 13.30 - 14.30
Conference: Better homes for less ­- can custom build, crowd funding and mutual home ownership solve the housing crisis?

Wednesday 5 March16.00 - 16.45
Conference: Energy efficiency: Delivering for consumers, for growth and for climate change - with Rt. Hon. Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Department of Energy & Climate Change

Thursday 6 March 10.30 - 11.30
Conference: A global approach to climate change - do we have the collective ability to act?

Thursday 6 March 11.45 - 12.45
Conference: Is high speed rail the future of transport?

Thursday 6 March 12.00 - 13.00
Conference: Shigeru Ban: Works and humanitarian activities