Brexit was high on the agenda at the third and final day of Ecobuild 2017 (9th March), with Lord Foster of Bath leading the discussion at The Arena around what it means for the construction industry in terms of skills and upcoming projects.
“The industry must grow by 35% if planned projects such as HS2 and Crossrail are to be a success,” Lord Foster explained, “…also the bigger firms are going to be hit by the apprenticeship levy, so there’s a lot of issues that need to be sorted.”
James Thornton of ClientEarth took to the stage later in the day to discuss how the company took the Government to court and won. “Air pollution causes an estimated 50,000 premature deaths every year and is costing the UK £27.5 bn, yet the Government has no plans to tackle the issue,” James explained during the session. He also informed the audience that a consultation paper will be available in April outlining the Government’s latest response and plans going forward.
Another hot topic for the last day of Ecobuild 2017 was the ongoing discussion around autonomous cars and the future of urban transport. David Nelson of Foster + Partners discussed the link between electric vehicles, air pollution and existing road infrastructure, while Rachel Skinner of WSP and Institution of Civil Engineers described the vehicles as ‘transformational’.
The crowds continued to swarm Regeneration Drive and gathered around for the last instalment of the Future Materials series, Processes and Manufacturing, that explored research including the role of drones on the inspection and repair of smart cities, testing to understand weather robustness, and emerging software innovations to assess building performance.
Colin Powell of World-GBC took to the stage at Ecobuild’s City Hall to discuss the organisation’s work on health and wellbeing in homes, including an outline of the latest evidence and the plans to launch a ‘Homes Wellbeing Lab’ in the UK. Over at The Gateway, the focus was on looking ahead to the future of infrastructure and planning, and how technology will revolutionise the way we design, deliver, operate and maintain infrastructure.
Summing up day three, Martin Hurn, managing director Ecobuild, said: “Day three was a great way to close the show. Brexit will have massive implications in the construction sector and air pollution is already a huge issue in our towns and cities, so it was good to see such packed crowds at The Arena for those sessions and right through to the end of the day.
“This year’s exhibitors have really excelled in showcasing the latest innovations and solutions to many of the issues raised in the content programme. Those conversations will gain momentum after the show as we continue to work with partners across the built environment to redefine sustainability.”
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