Stimulating discussion at sustainability conference

Industry leading speakers shared unique insights on tackling the challenges of today’s ever changing world at the Building a Smarter Future conference at the Lee Valley White Water Centre in Waltham Cross on June 26.

Michael Pawlyn, a lead architect of the world famous Eden Project in Cornwall, hailed the importance and inspiration of nature as the world works towards a genuinely sustainable future in building design and technology.

His engaging talk took images of structures found in nature, from the structure of a leaf to the shape and mechanism of a camel’s nostrils, and expanded them into ground breaking ideas on building construction. It was a thought provoking reminder that novel and needed solutions can be found all around us, in some of the nature’s most accessible yet unexpected objects.

Using such ‘biomimicry’, he showed how it helped shape the uniquely striking designs of the grand greenhouses that make up the Eden Project and how we can all improve our approach to design by using nature as a blueprint.

Broxbourne Council’s Cabinet Member for Public and Environmental Protection, Councillor Tim Hutchings, said: "As a Council, we are always looking for innovative ways to improve and to help us adapt to present and future challenges, and this conference certainly helped us to do this. It was fizzing with creative ideas.

"The speakers were thoroughly engaging and offered a number of ideas and alternative approaches to help us develop our thinking in relation to some of today’s biggest issues. I am proud, in the Borough’s special Year of the Environment, to have hosted some of the country’s leading thinkers to hear how to build for a sustainable future.”

Ant Wilson MBE explored how sustainable development combines economic development, social justice and environmental quality to create the maximum benefit for the general population in the long term. He explored how creating Smart Cities by using digital technology to make better use of resources.

As a director in the building engineering team at AECOM, Mr Wilson spelt out how industry and Government must work together to improve construction by lowering emissions, and by improving exports and project delivery. He shared knowledge on using the best materials and on how making buildings both green and smart to new technology would make for a better future for us all.

Russell Beck, Head of Consulting at the large UK staffing business Impellum Group, got the job done with his thought provoking talk focused on workplaces of the future. He put forward his observations on a rapidly changing labour market in which six key trends; urbanisation, technology, demography, globalisation, climate, and politics, increasingly have an impact on jobs.

He explained that as we spend many of our waking hours doing work, it is crucial that we understand the impact of changes on staff and employers. Mr Beck offered solutions on how to retain talented staff and how to adapt.

Stephen Stone, CEO of the property development company Crest Nicholson, shared his wisdom and ideas on creating sustainable places, the skills shortage, and off-site manufacturing in the construction industry. He suggested that a key part of building a smarter future is to encourage youngsters in colleges and schools to enter into construction careers.

The Building a Smarter Future conference was organised by Broxbourne Borough Council, as part of its Year of the Environment, in conjunction with the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce.

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