Photo Credit Julian Jackson
Ecobuild - the main UK exhibition for ecological buildings and associated services opened in London on 1st March. Fifty percent bigger than last years', with over 1300 exhibitors coming from as far afield as New Zealand it clearly shows that there is a strong market for building and improving ecological architecture.
Packed with visitors to the trade stands, Ecobuild is also running practical seminars on such subjects as how to install and utilise smart meters, as well as more conceptual overviews in the standing-room-only conference programme running in tandem with the exhibition. Featuring such big names as mind-scientist Baroness Susan Greenfield, eco author Richard Heinberg and top architect Sir Terry Farrell, who was responsible for, among many other designs, Charing Cross Station and the MI6 Building in central London.
Top attractions at the exhibition, now held at the massive ExCeL Centre in East London, were a pair of specially-built Passivhaus designs - which are so insulated that they do not need heating - demonstrating how this technology is suitable for the homes of the future. Naturally there was the usual plethora of alternative energy systems, but also more mundane but necessary items such as low-carbon insulating material and reclaimed tiles, together with eco paint and decorative materials. Without meaning to invoke national stereotypes, the Italian section had a high proportion of the most stylish designs for interiors and home accessories!
In the conference, Susan Greenfield gave a headline lecture on how we need ''mind change'' before we can make a fully actualised approach to remedying climate change. She outlined a controversial position that upcoming generations have a shorter attention span and lower empathy, and that will be unhelpful in coping with ecological disruption. Greenfield is a sparkling speaker and left the audience wishing for more on this uneasy subject.
Richard Heinberg is a leading Peak Oil theorist and author. His latest book, The End of Growth, due out soon, delineates how resource constraints will have a powerful impact on an economic system predicated on growth. This, he surmises will be the "Wall" which our global society will crash into, necessitating a complete overhaul of our monetary system, where money is lent into existence by banks, which of course need growth to pay back the interest. Heinberg believes that this will soon no longer be possible as energy and resource depletion stop growth in its tracks. He ended by saying that in the future "We will have a sustainable system, but it will be driven by crisis, not planning because we have put action off too long." A sobering view of the times to come.
These rather dark visions of the future were offset by the positivity of the thousands of practical solutions to living in a low carbon way that were being shown off at Ecobuild, and the immense amount of innovative technology available on the market today.
Ecobuild runs from 1st to 3rd of March at ExCeL in London. Entry is free and access by road, public transport and even boat is easy. The free seminars and conference programme are worth going for in themselves. It is a must for anyone involved in ecobuilding or contemplating upgrading their home to a higher ecological standard.