Constructing Excellence South West (CESW) Devon & Exeter Club held its inaugural Climate Summit at Sandy Park to a packed audience of construction professionals from across the region. Organised by Glen King PR and sponsored by NPS South West, Midas Group and Exeter Science Park, the event raised awareness of environmental challenges and tackled head-on the issues regarding climate resilient buildings in the future.
The half-day event summit included a healthy option brunch, networking opportunities with fellow professionals and the chance to visit exhibition stands. The event proved so successful that the club is now going to roll out quarterly events throughout 2019 culminating in a Climate Summit which will now be an annual event.
Mike Borkowski, Business Development Director at Midas Construction Ltd and Chair of Devon & Exeter Club CESW said: “The club was pleased to be able to bring this Climate Summit Conference to Exeter with an amazing line-up of speakers discussing the expected climate changes and the challenges the construction industry is facing. We were proud to present the first climate summit and the response and feedback was so positive that we are now organising in a series of conferences for next year that are planned to stimulate discussions around climate change and the future of construction.” He adds: “The recent IPCC Report states, “Governments around the world must take rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society to avoid disastrous levels of global warming. How we design our buildings for the future is critical to reducing carbon whilst also providing healthy buildings” We are fortunate in that Exeter has world leading expertise in environmental science and data analytics and home to the Met Office and Exeter University.
Keynote speaker Exeter City Council’s CEO Karime Hassan speaking about the growth of greater Exeter introduced a new document on the ‘Greater Exeter Strategic Plan’ looking forward to 2040. Other eminent speakers included Emma Osmundsen, Managing Director Exeter City Living on Passive buildings design principles. She spoke about the ‘three P’s’: People, Planet and Profit as the key focus for the Councils’ journey to climate resilience. Also, that although there is no specific construction standard in the UK that companies must adhere to, Exeter City Council adopted BREEAM 2015 standards, the World’s first and leading sustainability assessment. Maxine Goodey from AES Sustainability Consultants expanded in her presentation on the technical aspects of BREEAM regarding climate resilient buildings.
David Greensmith – Chair of Sustainability for CESW was instrumental in organising the agenda and gave the opening and closing address. David said: “Our summit calls on the region’s leading experts to provide us with alternative design solutions for our commercial properties. We needed a fresh approach to design commercial buildings that are both climate ready and healthy, low-carbon and low-energy. Leading experts were gathered from across the South West to present and we were able to provide an informative and thought-provoking summit on how to design buildings for the future, which was well received from the construction sector.”
Professor Albert Klein Tank is Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Science and Services, and Professor of Climate Services at Wageningen University, Netherlands. With expertise in climate datasets, current and historical climate trends, and climate change scenarios for the future. As part of his presentation he confirmed the climate system is warming and extreme weather is already having an impact on society. He talked about helping to manage future risk with early warning through long-range predictions. Producing a predicted model of the weather over the next 50 years, helped to demonstrate to the delegates what the industry needed to take into consideration when designing and constructing buildings of the future.
Professor Albert Klein Tank said: “No place on the planet is better informed of the predicted effects of climate change. The Met Office’s supercomputer is expected to enable £2bn of socio-economic benefits across the UK through enhanced resilience to severe weather and related hazards including, detailed information for energy markets and new climate research for long-term planning. In delivering new buildings we want to ensure that they perform to the best possible environmental standards. But there are challenges. Whilst there has been a welcome return of speculative development in the office market, we know that construction cost combined with inflation threatens to outstrip growth in commercial rents.”
The climate summit also looked at the environment, health and wellbeing and improved productivity achieved through design using biophilic design principles introduced by David Phillips and Robert Bedner of Exeter-based Cura Design. This was followed by Greg Jones of Hoare Lea talking about electrifying our cities in terms of transportation.
Alex Lochead, Policy Advisor – Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) talked about the clean energy challenge, outlining the Government’s future policies to meet the energy and environmental demands of construction identifying funding which has been set aside to meet these challenges. He said: “The aim of the Clean Growth Grand Challenge is to maximise the advantages for UK industry of the global shift to clean growth, through leading the world in the development, manufacture and use of low carbon technologies, systems and services that cost less than high carbon alternatives.”
A very different angle on climate change was given by Adam R Cook Director, a futurist and conservationist specialising in future city design, sustainability and ethics. He gave a fascinating and thought-provoking presentation, posing the question: “If I asked you if your home, your neighbourhood or your city is perfect, would you say yes?”
The event was summed up by AJ Eaton – Divisional Director mi-space who said: “An inspiring day which helps us to take the time to think about the decisions we make, and how we develop buildings for the future.”