With 1,300 exhibitors (2010: 1,000) and visitor numbers outstripping the organiser, IBE Ltd’s, forecast of 50,000 (2010: 41,000), there can be no doubt that Ecobuild has established itself as the premier exhibition for the construction industry – particularly in light of the demise of its nearest competitor, Interbuild.

This year’s three-day event was held at a new venue, ExCeL in east London, and occupied 50% more space than last year’s show at Earls Court.

“It’s amazing how big the show has got in a short space of time,” said Jason Kee, trade commissioner at the Canadian High Commission. He said there may be a concern that if the show grew too big it “may lose its way” and the sustainability angle may become diluted, but this year’s event had certainly “kept the faith”.

“Exhibitors know that sustainability is key to the show and companies who don’t have a proper environmental message won’t last long here.”

Timber products and buildings were well represented with some iconic structures – such as Pasquill’s “Extreme timber” hyperbolic paraboloid – expressing the material to great effect. It was “a show-stopper”, according to IBE.

John White, chief executive of The Timber Trade Federation, which once again sponsored the Timber Works area (18 timber companies had stands here), was also impressed by the timber representation.

“It really pleased me. The timber area was the stand-out part of the show and we were able to demonstrate wood as a modern, sophisticated, flexible product.

“For me, the most notable change was the significant number of timber companies that are now offering a solutions-based approach to their product offer,” he said. “This is very much in line with the direction the TTF, Wood for Good, TRADA and others are travelling in.”

Like many other exhibitors, the TTF already has plans for Ecobuild 2012.

“We are already talking about how we might be able to provide a really strong generic wood product presence, rather than simply a corner stand,” said Mr White.

IBE, which has yet to release the final visitor figure, has equally high hopes for next year’s incarnation.

“We are enormously pleased that exhibitors and visitors have turned out in record numbers to take part in this year’s Ecobuild and that ExCeL has been so well received,” said managing director David Wood.

“But the venue is just a part of the experience. We’ve worked hard at putting together a proposition that specifiers from across UK construction – and increasingly, further afield – find compelling when there are so many other competing pressures on their time.

“Continuing to strengthen that proposition remains our top priority for Ecobuild 2012 and beyond.”

The high attendance of timber industry companies meant Ecobuild was a “fantastic hub for networking with industry colleagues”, according to Intelligent Wood Systems’ Doug Cullen. “A lot of people have scheduled meetings around Ecobuild, and that’s something we need to build on.”

If there was one criticism from some exhibitors, it was the length of the show. “Three days is a very short time,” said Mayr-Melnhof/Kaufmann’s Bernd Gusinde. “One further day would be good.”

Ecobuild 2012 will take place at ExCeL on March 20-22.