Ecobuild is a massive exhibition held in London’s Excel Conference Centre which focuses on environmental issues for the building industry. With its tag line of ‘The Future’, Ecobuild is supported by all the large UK building materials manufacturers and systems along with major bodies like the RIBA and RICS.
David and his colleagues Fraser Sheerin and Sebana Moynagh spent two days at the exhibition to explore the very latest in eco technology, building systems and micro generation. With a generally sceptical outlook on such technologies, manufacturers were grilled on the effectiveness of their products, embedded energy and payback time along with the ease of applying these new products to refurbishment and retrofit situations.
Fraser Sheerin, Architectural Technologist
What are your lasting memories of Ecobuild 2013?
Some incredible free gifts, a dancing solar powered sunflower, an oak tree that had made the journey from Alba Trees in East Lothian via the Scottish Woodland trust to London and back again.
Among the sales patter there was some great information on products and some genuinely knowledgeable people giving you the right answers to our awkward questions on product life span, energy savings and payback periods.
What was the best thing you found?
1. Heated Glass: The glass itself can act as a radiant heat source so you don’t need radiators or under-floor heating. Excellent for use in sunrooms or any room with large glazed areas, it can be combined with further glass layers to reduce solar gain and increase thermal efficiency. The only downside is the price.
2. Handheld thermal imaging cameras: Again the price is unfortunate but it would be very useful in identifying areas of heat loss from properties while giving a visual picture both before and after renovation works are complete.
3. Solar powered bicycles: The bicycles are charged by solar PV cycle stands.
What was the worst thing you found?
I saw no one promoting solar thermal heating panels which, despite actually being a product that works efficiently, seems to have been shunned for the current trend for solar PV due to the government Feed In Tariff (FIT). There was also no one promoting micro hydro generation with a payback of 2-6 years (site dependant) appears to be one of the best means of generating green power with a long product lifespan (50 years or more with maintenance).
What are the top 3 things you found that you might use in future projects?
1. Solar Slate PV: PV panels designed to look and be fitted like traditional slate for use on listed buildings.
2. Billi Energy efficient boiling and chilled filtered drinking water systems: The electric units use heat recovered from the chilling process to efficiently raise water temperature and provide both chilled and boiling water on demand and can be time set to have the right amount of hot or cold water produced at particular times of the day. Gone is the kettle!
3. Supa Loft Itch-Free Recycled Insulation: Made from recycled plastic this itch free insulation meets the same required u-values as standard loft roll insulation but without the rash. Made by the same people that make sheep’s wool rolls.