Your blogger took his normal route to the ExCel centre for this year’s Ecobuild exhibition – crossing the Thames from Greenwich using the Emirates Airline cable car which serves as a lasting reminder of Team GB’s record breaking performance in the 2012 Olympic Games.
18 months on from those memories of a medal fest for our athletes, and while the Paralympic Winter Games were getting under way in Russia, I landed in the old Victoria docks in bright sunshine to find out what the latest achievements – and challenges – are across our industry.
Inevitably, with sustainability having been a key theme to Ecobuild since its inception early in the millennium, there were plenty of companies emphasising the environmental benefits to their products, ranging from biomass boilers and solar panels to triple-glazed windows and insulted cladding systems. There was even one ‘zone’ which seemed to contain little else other than bird-boxes and other habitats for wildlife.
Impressively, some of the major manufacturers had obviously made a serious investment in building big stands and cramming them with a selection of new product developments. The level of innovation, and the size of the crowds filling the aisle-ways confirmed all the economic figures on the continued growth in the construction sector.
Although we took a large stand last year to demonstrate our various repair techniques and host a couple of presentations on the role of refurbishment in relation to a buildings’ whole-life cost, we didn’t actually participate this time round.
The value in going along as an observer to an exhibition showcasing so many new products, however, is that it enables us to keep track of new substrates and finishes which we might come up against in our everyday work for the UK’s main contractors, social housing landlords and facilities managers. And that then allows us to develop and refine new techniques for their restoration when they either become weathered or accidentally damaged.
As the Save Our Surfaces or SOS initiative underlined, repair is essentially more eco-friendly than replacement, and there was little we saw at Ecobuild this year that our Finishers could not put back in showroom condition if necessary.