Futurebuild 2022 is an exhibition held at London ExCel, from the 1st to the 3rd of March, showcasing 300 companies, all leading pioneers in their sectors, and connecting them to more than 20,000 visitors. From digital construction and intelligent buildings, to manufacturing natural building materials and sustainable sourcing, it is clear that the future is a marriage between technology and nature. To the untrained eye, it might seem like all these companies are taking different routes to a sustainable future, but if you look past the free pens and the amicable conversations, two common themes emerge; retrofitting and circular economy, that is, a systemic approach to development designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment.
Lightwave had the pleasure of not only partnering up with our good friends from Lumi Plugin and exhibiting, but also being able to explore the forefront of infrastructure innovation. In this blog we’ll take the opportunity to delve into how far away the buildings of the future really are.
The History of Housing
The majority of UK homes have been built since the First World War but some properties in villages and towns can be over 200 years old. In the 1980s, when the housing shortage hit, the delivery of livable properties was sped up and so, planning and construction took a short-term approach. Not in how long a house would last, but in its efficiency. The concept of future-proofing was not born until the early 2000s and innovators at the time understood that it was an unavoidable part of the future, however, technology was not sufficiently advanced to back it up. This can now be achieved.
It is easy to be of the opinion that developers should only undertake sustainable contracts in the future, paving the way for greener housing and infrastructure, but the future cannot ignore the past, it cannot leave behind millions of homes with inadequate heating and wiring, and affordable and timely retrofit solutions need to be made a priority. The building industry is responsible for over a third of annual global resource consumption, highlighting that the future of buildings in the UK is converting ageing housing stock to optimise energy consumption and the application of sustainable natural materials.
The Future of Housing
Smart home technology is at the forefront of home development as it reduces human-error and allows people’s lifestyles to be as energy efficient as possible, however construction materials also play a pivotal role in maximising efficiency and sustainability. A recurring theme across the show was how useful hemp bricks could be in the battle to produce the most sustainable homes. They are a lot cheaper to produce compared to traditional bricks, which will tackle the high prices of houses, and are naturally more breathable so, whilst they keep in all the heat, they don’t contribute to mould or affect insulation which is a common problem in UK homes.
H2O Circular Economy
Alongside sustainability, efficiency is another vital factor in building the home of the future. Minimising wasted energy is vital and a good example of this is the heating of water. Millions of homes in the UK turn on their shower at least once a day and homes with multiple people use that shower even more frequently. The hot water is useful for a couple of seconds, from the time it leaves the showerhead to when it is drained away. Technology showcased at Futurebuild demonstrated how a modern home will reuse that warm water by filtering it and sending it through the pipes again, limiting how much energy is needed to heat water. The same technology will be applied to all water-consuming aspects of a modern home to maximise efficiency and minimise bills.
Trade Skills of Innovation
It is not just technology that is modernising homes, the skills of trades-people and installers are advancing to encapsulate the future of retrofitted homes. The tradesperson handbook no longer purely focuses on maintaining the integral structures of homes, but also how to retrofit them with modern devices. Retrofit academies and course-providers which have taken it upon themselves to educate electricians, plumbers and installers were present at Futurebuild 2022. The next generation of tradespeople will be well-versed in smart home devices and circular economies to improve the quality of UK homes and the overall quality of life. The beautiful thing about innovation is that the smartest approach also tends to be the simplest. Meaning that some retrofit devices can be installed with a few simple instructions. If you are feeling up to it, your home can become your modern playground.
The Future Of Lightwave
In 2007 when our founder, John Sherman, was bringing Lightwave to life, the majority of people had never heard the term “smart home”. If they did, it was seen as a futuristic concept that was lightyears away from fruition. We have been future-proofing our products since our inception because we knew that this would become the norm, now when homes are in need of retrofitted modernization, we are proud to be leading that conversation. When walking down the many aisles of Futurebuild 2022 and discussing united visions for the future of homes, we saw the part Lightwave has been playing in shaping how homes are built, and we will continue to do so.
The products, devices and companies mentioned in this blog, as well as those who have inspired us during our visit to Futurebuild 2022, are as follows:
ACAN – Architects Climate Action Network
Aereco Ventilation Limited
Alternative Heating Solutions Limited & SAHP Limited
C-PROBE GROUP LIMITED
Green Roof Shelters Ltd
High Tech Systems Ltd
KEIM MINERAL PAINTS LIMITED
Mira Showers UK
Nunya Digital Ltd
The Retrofit Academy
University of Salford – Build Environment