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Our ‘Buildings for the Future’ Conference

Our ‘Buildings for the Future’ Conference

Reflections from the event by Jobe Bryer, intern at Fit for the Future.

On Wednesday 5th July in the beautiful summer sunshine, people from all over the country representing a wide range of organisations gathered at The Watershed in Bristol to discuss all aspects of sustainable buildings.

The day began with a series of case studies from our members in the region.

The first was given by Martin Roscoe, a building surveyor from the National Trust. Martin explained step-by-step how a beautiful old, but heavily damaged thatched roof cottage was retrofitted to achieve an EPC rating of ‘C’. The lessons learnt from this project raised some interesting points too; it was suggested that more “opening up” was done in the initial assessments so that a better idea of the true extent of the work was known before starting the project.

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Following on, was a very interesting case study on The Watershed itself. Sam Clarke and Fabien Le Dem from Arup described the methods used to reduce the energy consumption of this multimedia hub. One of the key messages in response to a question raised was to increase the energy efficiency of a building first before even thinking about installing renewable energy production such as solar panels.

The final case study was given by Nicola Walker from The Whitworth. The presentation described the huge array of sustainability measures integrated into the £17 million expansion project. Overall the project was a success,  but Nicola disclosed some words of wisdom to other delegates who are about to embark on a similar journey. Most of these lessons learnt oriented around stakeholder engagement during all aspects of design and delivery.

The case studies were followed up by a panel discussion answering the question of ‘how can we make our buildings perform better?’ Delegates appreciated the wisdom from the experienced panel included Marrissa Fallas from the National Trust, Matt Wood from Bioregional, Vicki Limbrick from RNLI and Trevor Francis from University of Wales. The main points of the discussion included:

  1. Ensuring designers and contractors stay involved post completion,
  2. Ensure communication with stakeholders in maintained throughout the entirety of the project
  3. Guarantee that specifications are thorough and not overcomplicated for ease of handover and maintenance of the building
  4. The importance of maintenance.

After an all-important chance for delegates to network over some lunch and a cup of coffee, delegates had the choice to go and enjoy the sunshine on a walking tour of Arup’s sites in Bristol or to attend two workshops; one by Julie’s Bicycle and one by Elementa Consulting.

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The Arup team; Fabian and Nathan, took delegates to Aardman’s offices. Delegates were shown how the buildings design features impacts the creative culture through a comfortable working environment whilst maximising sustainability. For example, the office is naturally ventilated which has kept energy bills down. The hot, sunny day put the natural ventilation to the test and I am pleased to report that the whole building felt very comfortable.

The Julies Bicycle workshop run by Catherine Bottrill focussed on energy monitoring and reporting. It highlighted the importance of designing how you are going to collect your buildings energy data and what you are going to do with it once the data is harnessed. Top tips that came out of many of the discussions were not to overdo sub metering and ensure that all staff have access to the energy monitoring to help staff engagement and buy in from senior members.

35716150336_8acb122f68_oFollowing the presentations and workshops delegates were given time to network with each other and talk with the exhibitors over a well-deserved cup of tea. Off the back of this event delegates were able to take away some invaluable hints and tips from each other, ensuring their building are as sustainable as possible. In addition, delegates walked away with a selection of connections they had made with other delegates. No doubt the conversations, collaboration and knowledge sharing will continue…

Ed Wood from the National Trust commented that the “topics were very useful and relevant”

Sarah Crofts from Heritage Lottery Fund described the event as “useful and motivational”

To find out more about this event or upcoming Fit for the Future networking opportunities, get in touch with the Network team.

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