Join us as we take a journey to the Futurebuild exhibition in London, showcasing the latest and most innovative technologies in sustainable architecture. From green roofs to natural building materials, learn about the potential future of our cities and how we can create a greener future.
The world is becoming increasingly conscious of the impact that our buildings and infrastructure have on the environment. With this growing awareness, there has been a global push towards creating more sustainable buildings that can help combat climate change, reduce energy use, promote biodiversity–even in the most densely-populated cities–and provide a greener, more comfortable living and working environment for all. In March, we visited the Futurebuild Exhibition in London to explore the latest sustainable technologies and materials to see for ourselves what the future of sustainable buildings could look like!
Green Roofs and Walls
The Green Roof Organization, who we had the chance of meeting at the show, works to spread the message that green roofs and walls are two of the most innovative and sustainable technologies available, and could drastically improve the quality of life in cities by allowing people to reconnect with nature, improve their health, and combat climate change. Additionally, the introduction of green roofs helps preserve biodiversity by granting wildlife additional habitat space, and encourages vital pollinators.
There are a few different types of “green roofs”: Extensive green roofs typically include hardier, drought-resistant plants such as sedums, mosses, and wildflowers. These green roof systems are designed to be low maintenance and support plants with a lower requirement for nutrients and water. Learn more about green roofs and walls in our video here!
Sedum species are particularly well suited for extensive green roofs as they are drought-tolerant and can grow on shallow substrates with little irrigation required. They come in a range of forms and colours and usually flower from early summer to autumn. The sedum for these green roofs can be pre-grown and planted using mats/blankets or planted with young plug plants, seeded, or grown from cuttings.
Biodiverse roofs, on the other hand, are designed specifically to create habitats for plants and animals. They can be made with seed mixes or planted with starts to support certain small animal species like birds and invertebrates. Others can focus on indigenous plant species to spread across the roofs over time. In addition to buildings, green roofs can also be incorporated onto bike shelters, bin stores, and bus stops, transforming small-scale structures into biodiversity hotspots in cities!
Green walls, like those designed by Biotecture, can also have a significant environmental and social impact. Biotecture designs both interior and exterior walls that are tailored to the specific environmental needs of each project. They can reduce air pollution, increase biodiversity, and offer a sense of connection with nature. They also serve as an attractive addition to city buildings, adding life and vibrancy to busy streets. For example, Biotecture is responsible for much of the greenery in the reception area of the Sky Garden in London, as well as for the exterior of a Veolia Recycling Centre in Leeds, UK!
Green roofs and walls not only give a natural feel to cities, but they also have a significant role in bettering air quality, mitigating the urban heat island effect, and creating homes for wildlife. With the intensifying interest in sustainable technologies, it is evident that green roofs and walls will be a key factor in constructing cities of the future.
The use of natural building materials is another trend in sustainable building design. Natural building materials, such as hemp, cob, paper, straw, bricks, cork, and mycelium, have less embodied carbon, which means all CO2 emitted in producing the materials, and have existed for thousands of years. With an increased awareness of their environmental benefits and diverse uses, natural building materials are now re-emerging in popularity.
One of the most energy-intensive materials to produce is concrete, yet it is still the most used material in the world! But did you know it can be created from almost any kind of rock, anywhere in the world? By using locally sourced materials, we can reduce concrete’s negative environmental impact. A new approach to concrete production is to capture carbon from the atmosphere and infuse it into concrete blocks, turning them into a carbon store, as done by this Canadian company.
By modifying the design and shape of concrete, it can also be used to benefit nature, like what Israel-based company ECOncrete has created.
By manufacturing biophilic sea defence blocks with shells and natural forms already imprinted into its surface, ECOncrete’s blocks attract sea life, and provide a safe place for vital coastal species to call home, while still reinforcing the structures required to protect humans from storm surges, waves, and marine natural disasters.
The Future of Futurebuild
We caught up with Martin Hearn, Event Director of Futurebuild, who explained that the goal of the exhibition is to drive cross-sector collaboration and to bring together architects, contractors, engineers, and anyone involved in the specification of sustainable environments. For 2023, Futurebuild plans to focus on low-carbon materials, including low-carbon technologies in the concrete industry, timber, and alternative, natural building materials.
With the clock ticking down on the urgent need to address climate change, Futurebuild 2023 is a rallying cry for those in the construction sector. Sponsored by SRNG and HUB Brussels, and curated by multi-disciplinary think tank The Edge, the conference has outlined 12 key proposals that will be discussed with the audience's input. Industry speakers and influential thought leaders will lead the debates on topics like energy, behavioural change, and more.
The potential of sustainable buildings is exciting and full of promise! The Futurebuild Exhibition in London did an amazing job highlighting the innovative technologies and materials that could make our homes, offices, and schools more sustainable. By driving cross-sector collaboration and concentrating on sustainable building design, these companies and exhibitions are paving the way together for the future of sustainable buildings! We can’t wait for 2023’s exhibition!