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Futurebuild 2023 wraps up with optimism for the future

Futurebuild, the event dedicated to building a better future for the built environment calls a wrap on its exciting annual industry event held from 7-9th March. Trailblazers from across the entire built environment came together to take a stand through innovation, knowledge-sharing and networking. 

Across the three days, Futurebuild hosted over 17,800 visitors, 500 speakers, 400 exhibitors, 135 sessions, and 90 curators to join forces in creating a more sustainable future. With sustainability a more relevant topic than ever, Futurebuild’s expansive exhibition was specially curated to drive change across the entire supply chain through showcasing the best in innovative bioproducts and sustainable solutions throughout the whole event.

Futurebuild celebrated innovation through its established Big Innovation Pitch, which saw tepeo’s ZEB win the grand prize this year and Futurebuild’s new Big Ideas Pitch, which crowned startup Firstplanit the inaugural winner.

A showcase that truly makes a difference
In addition to celebrating innovation in sustainable products, Futurebuild wanted to offer solutions which create a quantifiable, positive impact on the environment. As many products claim to be sustainable, Futurebuild placed an emphasis on providing accurate factual reporting about the green credentials of its offerings. One of Futurebuild’s speakers, Dr. Tom Woolley, architect and environmental researcher, author of ‘Natural Building Materials, Health and Indoor Air Quality’, and chair of the UK Clean Air Steering Committee observed, “There were enough really green stands there to make it worthwhile and not too much greenwashing!”

The exhibition showcased ground-breaking feature builds, including the truly innovative ZEDPower Micro Home from ZEDfactory, an architectural firm offering Zero (fossil) Energy Development (ZED) buildings in the UK and worldwide. The micro home is a flatpack, self-build and zero-bills eco-home that requires nothing more than a rubber mallet and a drill to assemble. Bill Dunster OBE, founder of ZEDfactory, remarked on the value Futurebuild offers: “Futurebuild is the best possible platform to launch a big idea – and has a value to society way beyond any conventional trade show.”

Additionally, Duncan Baker-Brown architect, academic and environmental activist, remarked, “I thought that the show was different to recently inasmuch as there were lots of climate and carbon-aware products and companies supporting the normal excellent array of debates.”

Making macro debates centre stage
Across the three days, Futurebuild’s renowned Seminar programme covered key themes delivered by industry partners from a wide range of disciplines who are passionate about instigating change. Likewise, Futurebuild’s Conference put the industry’s most pressing problems at the forefront of the sustainability conversation, helping to spark debate and formulate solutions to problems. 

Futurebuild’s organisers were overwhelmed by the turnout, and attendees displayed a genuine enthusiasm and actively participated in the question-and-answer sessions, leading to some great debates. Throughout the three-day event, seminars proved so popular that many sessions had standing room only.

On the main Conference Arena, each day began with a rousing keynote address from an expert industry speaker to help define the theme of the day. Sarwjit Sambhit, Chief Executive Officer of St Modwen, a Blackstone portfolio company, kicked of day one’s theme of ‘Looking Forward’. Sarwjit discussed the importance of technological innovation in engineering and the wider built environment industry, remarking how every business in the sector has the opportunity to make a difference going forward.

After the first day set the scene for an optimistic outlook for the built environment industry, day two focused on how professionals can drive ‘Change’ in the sector. Day two opened with an eye-opening keynote address by Pascal Smet, Secretary of State, Brussels – Capital Region who discussed circular construction and its positive impacts. Brussels is considered to be Europe’s laboratory for sustainable construction, and the Belgian capital is making circularity the new normal. Pascal discussed how Brussels is future-proofing construction and looked at how this could set the stage for international construction standards.

After outlining ideas for change, day three focused on ‘Taking Action’. Trudy Harrison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs gave the Ministerial keynote address, stating that the time is now to make change. Commenting on the event, Trudy said, “Futurebuild really focuses on sustainability, innovation, and bringing people together. It’s absolutely critical.”

Staying true to its roots sustainability and innovation ran through every aspect of the show and saw the team launch their Walk the Talk campaign that led to a significant reduction in the event’s carbon footprint. Removing the aisle carpet alone (just one of the changes) reduced the event’s carbon emissions by 27,707kg. Over the next 12 months the team at Futurebuild will assess what impact the changes had and what more changes can be made to drive even further reductions in 2024.

Commenting on Futurebuild 2023, Sue Riddlestone, CEO of Bioregional commented “We are in the middle of a climate and ecological emergency and Futurebuild is one of the few conferences really focusing on that for the sector.”

Fiona Harvey, Environment Editor for the Guardian commented, “It’s really crucial that professionals are able to communicate with each other, share best practice and talk about how we are going to get these innovations out there as quickly as possible.”

Stay tuned for more
Futurebuild 2023 ended in the same way it began with an optimistic outlook for the future of the built environment. Visitors left with renewed excitement and new knowledge of sustainable solutions and innovations in the sector. Although the annual live event is over, Futurebuild works on providing content all year round. To relive the event, the full programme will be available in the coming weeks.

Having received insightful feedback from visitors on what they would like to see at Futurebuild 2024 the team is inspired to cover an even greater range of topics next year to again engage and challenge the industry to build better.

Martin Hurn, Event Director of Futurebuild made his closing remarks: “Futurebuild 2023 has come to an end and what an amazing three days we have had! Today’s theme was action, and there’s been a huge amount of action from the built environment to driving sustainability and innovation. A massive thank you to all of our sponsors, our hundreds of speakers and thousands of visitors that have come to the event. We appreciate all of our exhibitors and visitors getting involved with the Take a Stand campaign and we can’t wait to discuss this more in the coming months.”

Save the date 5th-7th March 2024 – don’t miss out on next year’s show.