Earth Notes: On the Futurebuild Exhibition (2019)
Futurebuild 2019 ran 5th, 6th, 7th March at London's ExCeL in the Docklands.
(Futurebuild used to be known as Ecobuild...)
It was a busy day, and there are many interesting stands (photos taken in a bit of a hurry!) and friends of Radbot here.
Compared to some shows in this vein that I have attended in the past, I saw no evidence of dodgy products, over-hyping, etc. A Good Thing. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough or in the right places, but not having to be on guard against such twaddle makes for a better experience all round.
Radbot found itself in the Innovation Zone along with start-ups and interesting folk including:
- Energy Transitions (technology development includes 'Steel Zero', an innovative and architecturally attractive building facade system that harnesses the sun's energy to contribute to buildings' heating and hot water demands)
- GTS (provider of analysis, mechanical and performance testing - glass and glass products)
- Moxia (smart battery hardware and GridShare software to facilitate smart energy storage and sharing)
- Ovo Energy (great consumer propositions to create more affordable clean energy for everyone)
- Oxto (flywheel energy storage)
- Sasie (integrated home energy systems)
- Switchee (connected devices and analytics for landlords and their residents)
- Ventive (natural ventilation systems that reduce carbon emissions and running costs)
... and many others, and close to many university stands also.
(Our friends from Salford were around also, but at the other end of the hall.)
In fact there was a lot of university presence, and I was pleased to have a chat with one of the Loughborough Energy Research Cohort, but also a stream of students dispatched from one of the local London unis to assemble a slate of sustainable building ideas for a project, hurrah!
I also heard from a visitor to our stand about SH&BA (Smart Homes and Buildings Association), which is now on my reading list!
At a show like this it pays to be open minded. You can't know in advance what opportunities and nuggets of information will present themselves. One has to kiss a lots of frogs, I was once told, to find a prince. And sometimes that 'prince' opportunity is a bit slow-burn too...
The current Radbot product has been primarily marketed for this winter to a consumer audience, and the circa half-billion domestic radiators across Europe remain a key carbon-cutting market.
But the other half-billion radiators in non-domestic premises remain a place where Radbot can save money and carbon. And it was great to have a large commercial landlord get quite excited as we discussed how Radbot could help their smaller commercial tenants and the landlord, given that the landlord is paying for the heating!
One of Radbot's original targets was student accommodation, where the students are really not paying attention to heating controls given all the other things going on in their lives. That came up in discussion too, and Vestemi is working on some interesting stuff which may emerge soon...
The innovation folks from the big energy companies were around and about too. At some point I hope that Radbot can be one of the tools that they use to transition to a fossil-free future, such as with HaaS (Heating as a Service), where the end user gets the warmth they want, and the supplier is now interested in using as little energy as possible to create that warmth.
Passive, Solar, etc
I do like a bit of solar, such as PV. Thermal is good too, such as from Energy Transitions opposite the Vestemi stand. Their "Steel Zero" idea to capture heat from a facade and funnel it into space or water heating is simple and clever.
Even better than generating is not needing energy in the first place. How do you get zero carbon heat in the UK in winter? First get nearly to zero heat requirement with Passive House levels of design and building fabric, then the rest can come from the feeble 10% of remaining mid-winter insolation, or wind, or whatever. I had a quick chat at the ICF Supplies stand about Nudura foam building blocks that slot together then concrete gets poured in, which is interesting.
This Futurebuild has been well worthwhile attending. My colleagues rotated in to staff the stand for Wednesday and Thursday, but I wouldn't have minded one more day on stand myself!