• Ecobuild 2008 will be held at London’s Earls Court from February 26-28.
• Achieving carbon neutrality will be a key topic across the show.
• A model zero carbon home will demonstrate the products and practices available to developers.
• Timber firms will be on show in force at Ecobuild.

With 500 exhibitors, 100 seminars and 20,000 visitors expected, this year’s Ecobuild, at Earls Cout from February 26-28, promises to be bigger than ever.

Since its launch in 2005, the show has had year-on-year growth of around 100%, expanding from a small trade show of 40 stands to taking over Earls Court 2.

It will once again be staged alongside Futurebuild, showcasing innovations in construction, and Cityscape, home to the largest indoor representation of landscape design. This underlines the importance of sustainable development to the UK construction sector and demonstrates the number of firms now shouting about their green products and ability to help developers achieve carbon neutrality.

Timber an integral part

Timber is on course to be an integral part of this, with a cross-section of firms from the industry on show, including timber frame manufacturers Kingspan Off-Site, Stewart Milne Timber Systems, Eleco Timber Frame Ltd and Covers Timber Structures Ltd; treatments specialist Arch Timber Protection Ltd; and construction products Accoya, from BSW Timber/Titan Wood, and Ultrajoist, from Glenalmond Timber.

Wood Window Alliance members BSW Accoya, Nordan UK Ltd, Rationel Windows (UK) Ltd, Jeld-Wen UK Ltd, Mumford & Wood Ltd and Janex UK Ltd will also be taking pride of place in the Window Box, where visitors can compare timber, aluminium and PVCu products.

“This exhibition attracts precisely the right profile of visitors, the most forward-thinking architects, specifiers and contractors in the UK,” said Glenalmond managing director Fraser Steele. “The expansion of the show bears witness to the fact that true sustainability is the hottest topic in the construction industry and is likely to remain so for some time.”

“Extolling the benefits of using timber and its effective protection to specifier audiences is vital both for our own and our customers’ businesses,” added Arch marketing services manager David Law.

The strong presence of timber firms at Ecobuild reiterates the importance of wood-based materials to the UK construction industry and its attempt to meet government targets. The Code for Sustainable Homes, the 2016 zero carbon targets and calls to build more affordable homes have led the construction industry to give greater credence to environmentally-friendly modern methods of construction (MMC).

Zero carbon

Event organisers say the drive to zero carbon will be demonstrated through several seminars and exhibitions. At the heart of this will be the Road to Zero Carbon and Zero Carbon House attractions.

Timber will be a key element to ZedFactory’s Zero Carbon Home, with timber panels manufactured using offsite MMC to allow the demonstration house to be built in just three days, ahead of Ecobuild. Described as the “star of the show” by organisers, it is designed to allow visitors to see the workings of an eco-friendly home, with cut-aways and exploded views giving a full insight to the products, practices and services.

The Road to Zero Carbon is to be realised through a series of external wall elevations showing the different combinations of superstructure, insulation and cladding that can reduce carbon output. Organisers say that these exhibitions, coupled with the zero carbon seminar series, will give visitors an “impressive and condensed zero carbon education in a day”.

Ecobuild’s conference – Innovate & Green – will focus on “how the construction sector needs to change its perspective, products and practices to achieve a lower carbon industry”. Housing and planning minister Yvette Cooper will deliver the keynote speech with support from some leading industry lights from architecture, design and development.

But Ecobuild’s environmental agenda extends much further than achieving carbon neutrality and its associated technologies. The seminar series will address the latest regulations for the design, planning and management of buildings; the efficient management of water supplies; and innovations in offsite construction.

UK Green Building Council

In its arena, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), launched at Ecobuild 2007, will provide a place for “debate, discussion and entertainment” stimulated by big-name commentators such as Janet Street-Porter and designer Wayne Hemingway. The UKGBC Arena will also play host to the Green Dragons’ Den, where four green entrepreneurs will have the sustainability of their products tested by David Marlow, from the East of England Development Agency, and Rachel Nutter, of the Carbon Trust. The winner will receive the Green Shoots Green Entrepreneur of the Year award, as well as business support and funding from competition sponsor Burdens Environmental.

So, are timber firms likely to benefit from the green agenda and business opportunities on offer at the show?

“Our experience has shown that Ecobuild provides the perfect forum for this, with a high level of quality specifier contacts from just one event,” said Mr Law.

“Ecobuild has become an essential part of our marketing efforts,” confirmed Fraser Steele. “Last year’s Ecobuild was very successful for us and we are expecting this year to be an improvement.”