Impressions of Ecobuild

Last week, we attended the UK’s largest sustainable construction exhibition, Ecobuild.  Now in its 11th year, Ecobuild is still a major show, though not on the scale it once was.

The last time I visited was 2014 and I must admit I was surprised at how the show had halved in size.  Saying that, the feedback from the construction clients we had at the show was that they had roughly about the same footfall to the stand.  Their thoughts were that because the show was quicker and easier to get round now, it meant that visitors could more easily find who they wanted to see, rather than spending time trying to find companies and getting frustrated.

The layout of the show was very good.  The exhibition had a number of central hubs where the building product seminars were held.  These were easy to find and had some really interesting speakers.  I spotted Michael Portillo heading down to his speaker slot, where I believe the theme was ‘Is politics stranger than fiction?’.  Unfortunately the Arena didn’t have a spare seat by the time I got there – he certainly pulled in a large crowd!

I did manage to attend a seminar on heat and moisture on buildings, presented by an academic from the University of Loughborough.  This was a very interesting talk and she apologised for having to dumb it down when talking about technical things like hygrothermals!  In her talk she looked at why a timber clad school in Devon had rotted and had to be re-built with different materials, due to the problem of wind-driven rain.  An enlightening talk and one that will provide useful insights into future thought leadership articles.

I spent most of my time at our client EnviroVent’s stand.  They had managed to secure a very good position near to one of the main entrances.  The stand was constantly busy throughout the day, which was good news for their sales team!  The reason being that they had done what all good exhibitors should do at a show on that scale – have something new and exciting to show to visitors. 

At the show, EnviroVent’s Technical Manager Rory Percival presented the company’s first App that controls a Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery unit (MVHR).  We had seven editors visit the stand on the first day and four others later during the show.    We also produced press pack information, which we gave out to the editors.  The results, so far, have been phenomenal, with a large number of magazines tweeting about the new innovations and also covering them on their websites and e-newsletters.  Needless to say, we were really pleased with the response.

Ecobuild did seem very busy on the first day and our clients reported fairly consistent visitor numbers throughout.  However, it takes a couple of months afterwards to really evaluate the success of a show like this and whether any connections will translate through to sales conversions, determining whether companies will attend next year or not. 

There was some discussion at the exhibition that there had been a buyout of Ecobuild and that the new owners were planning to return it to how it used to be – pairing it back to being a pure sustainability show and restricting the types of companies who could attend.   This may work, however my feeling is that Ecobuild is about the right size now – it’s not too large and you can easily get around it in a day, but it’s big enough and has enough seminars and activities taking place to make a buzz around the place.

Who knows what the future will hold for the UK’s largest sustainable construction show and whether this will be the last year in its current format, before it is changed forever…

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