I discussed last year that Ecobuild as the platform for discovering NEW technologies seemed to be reducing in size. I attributed this partly to the fact that a lot of the recently introduced eco-technologies, such as solar PV, wind turbines, passive house and green roofs, have now become well understood and established.
I stand by this, as the upturn in the construction industry has not been reflected in expansion at Ecobuild – actually it was even smaller this year. There were fewer green roof companies than before, in fact green roof displays seemed to be outnumbered by green walls for the first time.
Among the green wall systems, I noticed an increase in specialist ecology firms, a good sign that people are trying to get the best ecosystem function from their green infrastructure. There were also more contractors noticeably promoting GI as part of their operations.
This indicates that customers are looking for reliable installers who can fit the system that is right for them. Contractors realise that they need to build up a reputation for good installation and maintenance will be keen on proving longevity and high performance on their roofs, putting a bit of time into understanding the available products that really work well to help them keep their place in the market. This means a matching a range of systems like plugs and seed, matting, modules etc. to the specific needs of their customer. In a strong competitive market, value for money does not always mean ‘cheapest is best’.
So maybe green roofing and the new ‘millennial’ generation of eco-technologies is coming of age gracefully. The question remains, what is the place of Ecobuild in the construction world now? Visitor numbers are still increasing – we have certainly not lost interest in the theme.
It could almost be renamed ‘Build’ in future years, because who can seriously afford not to be Eco? Innovation will still be around, and still needs a showcase. But as these eco-industries mature the innovations are changing hands from basic products to qualifications, services, quality assurance and performance metrics. An increase in seminar space and discussion forums has reflected this so far, and it will certainly be interesting to see how the show adapts to the developing industry in the future.