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 06-08 March 2018 / ExCeL, London

3 reasons that make the 2018 conference a 'must attend' for built environment professionals

Friday 1 September by: Sue James, on behalf of the ecobuild Conference Team

The interconnectedness of the built environment is one of the things that make it so unique – and challenging – as a sector. From housing and social inclusion to energy and infrastructure, there are numerous topics that warrant more than just discussion if we want to see real, positive change.

To facilitate this, and bring the right people and conversations to the 2018 ecobuild conference, we decided to gather as much feedback from the industry as possible.

It’s proven to be one of the most important decisions we’ve taken since we announced next year’s event. We’ve had much valuable feedback from our conference team Steering Group, as well as through our industry-wide survey and digital polls. As we’d expected, this has enabled us to understand more clearly what the sector wants from us – and we’re ready to deliver it.

For instance, one of the comments we received was – quite literally – that previous ecobuild conference programmes “had no purpose.” Well, that is going to change.

In 2018, the ecobuild conference will have a real, unifying purpose – to tackle the big issues head on and create an action plan for change, grounded in the knowledge and expertise of an array of built environment professionals. The conference programme will provide an interactive platform for exploring the issues that matter on three main levels - global influences, national issues and challenges specific to the built environment. It is set to encourage debate and shift perspectives on a number of different industry issues, providing a creative platform for built environment professionals.

Here’s why:

1. It invites you to take part in discussing the issues that need to be explored if we are to achieve a sustainable future

We don’t want the 2018 conference programme to be all about theory and hypothesising – we need to create a springboard for real, workable action. Its key purpose will be to encourage actions that tackle the big issues surrounding the built environment – which by default demand a greater emphasis on working together.

There is a vast amount of knowledge across the built environment. Sharing this knowledge and agreeing on measurable next steps and solutions that can contribute effectively towards big picture ambitions, such as delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals, is going to lie at the heart of the conference. From the growth of healthy places to encouraging behaviour change, the conference will present topics that will encourage professionals from all sectors in the built environment to come together.

2. It will tackle crucial industry and political topics, such as housebuilding, head on

Our online polls, which were hosted on social channels, raised some interesting issues around housebuilding, with 60% of respondents stating that housebuilding needs a radical rethink. Results from our industry-wide email survey, which gathered feedback from a range of built environment professionals, reinforced this sentiment. Nearly 70% of respondents would like to see housebuilding discussed as one of the most challenging national issues we face today. Of course, when we talk about housebuilding, it is more than the buildings themselves. How will we deliver the affordable homes of good, habitable quality in places where people of all ages can live, work and play? Do we need to completely rethink housing economics to build the homes that we need? We also need to understand how to take a collective approach and support community building. Where will such homes be?

What are the local resources to support them? These are just some of the questions that need to be answered by every single profession within the built environment – and the conference will serve as an ideal platform for doing that.

Similarly, overcoming inequality emerged as a key concern for poll participants. For example, are we rushing to build homes, and therefore compromising quality for quantity, leaving certain groups and communities further isolated?

3. It is going to be the most future-focussed conference in the industry

When the implications of climate change or the potential difficulty of sourcing life essentials, such as water and soil, were emerging, finding solutions to these problems did not seem to be an immediate concern. However, this is no longer the case. 2030, by when majority of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are expected to be achieved, is only 12 years away. In other words, the future is here and we need to respond to its imperatives. The conference will debate our dependency on technology, and whether arming people with hand-held devices as Foobot for air quality is actually empowering them. How much can we really ‘futureproof’ ourselves and our environment?

Aside from being future-focussed, the conference programme will be interactive – involving live debates, polls and soapbox style sessions.

As some of these examples may have shown you, the conference will have a real, unifying purpose and will create an action plan for change.

We are developing the conference programme in more detail and will be sharing topics and speakers as they are confirmed. If there is a speaker you’d like to see at ecobuild 2018, get in touch with us on our social channels using the hashtag #yourecobuild.

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