The curate’s eco-egg

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be

So another Ecobuild exhibition has been and gone. The amount of planning, preparation and money that goes into exhibiting and it’s over before you even know it. Like the proverbial curate’s supper egg, Ecobuild had its good bits. It had its interesting bits and it had its ‘what on earth are they doing here?’ bits.

The show has been evolving every year since its inception as these things tend to, but this year it was as far removed from those hippy-dippy, haystack days at Earls Court as it could be.

I’ve said before, that these days EcoBuild is rather more Build and rather less Eco and this year really showed that to be true. But then it was also a little less ‘build’ than I’ve seen it in the past as well. Is that because this was the first Ecobuild since the recovery really took hold? Or because things haven’t really picked up enough to justify the huge expense – in terms of money and manpower that it takes to exhibit?

It was certainly easier to get around it this time, though I’m not sure if that was because it was smaller or just better laid out. Earls Court was a nightmare to navigate; Excel should have been easier, the halls being all nice rectangles, but there have still been some days when I wandered around looking for stands that I was certain had been there the previous day.

The seminar programme pulled in the punters as usual – it was definitely a good move to have them held on the exhibition floor rather than tucked away elsewhere. That, if nothing else, helped to make the place seem busier and buzzier. There were some high-profile names and famous faces that appeared too. My new claim to fame is that I held the door open for former London Mayor Ken Livingstone on our way to the loos.

A few years ago, the place was chock full to the gunnels of photovoltaic, solar thermal, biomass boilers and airsource heat pumps. I didn’t see anything like the amount of renewables on show last week. Two years ago, it was the show for PV – it was everywhere, last year it was all about LED lighting. Oh these product areas were there, sure, but there were fewer of them.

I may be wrong about this but I think the whole ‘something’s new because it’s eco-friendly’ has moved on. I think ‘sustainable’ is now just part of what we are and how we have to build if we are to maintain the world as we want it to be for future generations.

Sustainable isn’t now just the latest marketing fad, nor a peg to hang the sales story upon so that we can sell more of our latest product. It’s what we should be doing anyway. If we want a future, this is how we do it.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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