Around Australia, there are many Home Shows gracing exhibition centres each year, with the annual Green Cities Conference providing a focused look at our urban environments.
Trying to find something on practical, sustainable construction in the commercial environment, however, and you would only lead to disappointment. This gap was spotted by the Australian Exhibitions and Conferences team who put together the first Future Build Seminar and Exhibition program which ran from October 2nd to 4th in Melbourne.
The program brought together a well-constructed and informative series of free seminars and showcased exhibitors with relevant and sustainably focused options for the commercial built environment. The seminar program was without a doubt the key drawing card as the calibre of the speakers was very high and anecdotal feedback from attendees was extremely positive. This was reflected by a significant number attending the full three-day program. Key subjects covered included building construction, systems automation and operations and maintenance.
Seminar sponsor Wood Solutions highlighted the emerging role of timber products in the industry and the rapid construction times and reduced waste that can be achieved using products such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). Lend Lease’s development, Forté, in Melbourne’s Victoria Harbour is a case in point. This 10-storey, 23-apartment CLT building started in June, 2012 and is due for completion October, 2012.
There was discussion on the importance of independent verification of the level of sustainability achieved (i.e. GBCA Green Star ratings, Global Green Tag certifications) and the drivers behind it all. The most notable of the drivers discussed are government tenants being required to meet increasingly ambitious sustainability guidelines such as a minimum of 4.5 Star NABERS rating, increasing regulatory requirements, investor demand and growing tenant demand for efficient sustainable premises.
Tenant demand should come as no surprise when, according to various research studies, the biggest benefit of sustainable buildings is worker productivity, which has been shown to increase by up to 40 per cent. As John O’Brien of Australian Cleantech stated in his session, Turning the CFO Green, “products need to be both economically and environmentally viable these days.”
It was also interesting to see that Davis Langdon research has identified that approximately 66 per cent of Victoria’s commercial office buildings are over 20 years old and therefore ripe for retrofitting. This is where the Sustainable Melbourne Fund could be most effectively applied.
There were many great technologies on display, including Air Barrier Technologies HVAC leak detection and repair system, JAVAC’s refrigerant recovery unit and Aeratron’s very stylish, almost silent ceiling fan. The Cleantech stand showcased products relevant to the built environment such as Clinka, SMAC Technologies and enLighten Australia. Personal favourites included the real time (and retrofitable) Smart Water Meter from Watersave and from Star 8, the window with embedded solar collectors that generates power.
Overall, the Future Build 2012 seminar and expo was successful in bringing together an informative educational program and the businesses that can help to make it happen.
For me, the only disappointment was that the number of attendees was lower than expected with approximately half of those registering to attend failing to do so. Despite that, feedback from the onsite exhibitors suggested the quality of those who did attend provided excellent networking and business opportunities. I would be very keen to visit again next year, as there is likely to be even more on innovative construction methods, retrofit options and more great products.