Eco-building expansion (Mar11)

When Ecobuild started 5 years ago less than 200 people attended. This year they were expecting 50,000 but over 80,000 had registered before the event had even started. I’m not sure how many actually came over the 3 days, but getting there felt like being on one of those Japanese commuter trains, where they pack you in like sardines. At the stations en route we were herded along the platform by Underground officials trying to keep the crowds moving.

Even though I was told before I went, that the speakers events were well worth going to, I didn’t manage to get to any. I rushed from one meeting to another – and from one stand to another – like a rather frenetic bee. It was quite overwhelming but also extremely helpful.

I’m eco-renovating my London flat and pretty well all the suppliers I might use were there. Particularly useful was a meeting with Knauf Insulation. Trying to sort out what’s the best material for each job is hugely complicated. ‘Eco-friendly’ paints, for example, are difficult to define. Are they the most ‘natural’ ones or those that are best for allergies or the ones that use the least amount of energy in production or those that last longest before a re-paint is needed? Flooring is another minefield. Synthetic flooring can be the most ‘eco’, but will floor tiles look OK in a domestic situation? I talked to both Interface Flooring and Forbo to get some answers.

I also found out about water-efficient baths and taps, about LED lighting, smart meters and monitors and even vacuum cleaners – Dyson have come out with a model that uses less than half the energy of most of their competitors. Even though exhibitions are not my favourite thing, I suspect I’ll be going back to Ecobuild next year.

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