There's little sign of recession at the sustainable construction show, with business booming and everybody in good cheer
If you need a boost to beat the downturn blues, check out trade show Ecobuild, which runs until tomorrow at Earls Court. They were expecting more than 30,000 people, and yesterday those figures felt believable - the show kicked off with a big crush at the doors as the show opened at 10am. The exhibition floor was buzzing with people and more were spilling out of the seminar rooms and main conference areas.
Exhibitors reported a good first day; all those I spoke to were pleased with the numbers of people and levels of interest, and this appears to be translating into firm orders. Architect Craig White, who runs Modcell, a company that specialises in straw bale and hemp modular roof and wall cladding panels, said that he was getting more firm orders than he did last year.
Exhibitors I spoke to were pleased with the numbers of people and levels of interest, and this appears to be translating into firm orders
As you would expect, there is no shortage of hairy product companies; there were the usual assortment of green-oak frame specialists, sheep's wool insulation and eco-paint people. But the show is dominated by the big mainstream companies, including boiler and solar panel manufacturers – even the British Plastics Federation was there.
Indeed sustainability has gone mainstream here: everybody was wearing a suit and tie – moreover, there was an element of fun in evidence. Tradical Hemcrete, which makes walling from hemp, has a Lotus Elise sports car on its stand; its bodywork and seats are made from hemp but it has a petrol engine.
Indeed sustainability has gone mainstream here: everybody was wearing a suit and tie – moreover, there was an element of fun in evidence
The conference line-up is also high profile, and although these speakers may not be known for being particularly green it all added to the happening buzz. London mayor Boris Johnson spoke about the importance of upgrading existing building and announced his new “retrofit academy” to train people up. Yvette Cooper talked about money and even Alastair Campbell had a slot.
It was a good place for new policy initiatives, with environmental assessment competitors BREEAM, LEED and Green Star signing a deal to work together to produce common standards of measurement for carbon emissions.
All in all, a good day.