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With only one week to go until Ecobuild 2015 I’ve turned my attention to the seminar line-up. What was once in danger of becoming a trade-show Ecobuild has more recently regained ground on its strength of speakers and new angles for debate. I’ve focused on the ‘Refub & Retrofit’ zone and have picked out the most relevant seminars for the Progressive Heritage ethos. Click here for the programme of seminars.


Tuesday 3rd March has a broad series of topics: from the refurbishment of building services to strategies for consumer engagement. My pick would be ‘Learning from refurbishment successes in Europe’. This promises to outline not only practical case studies, but seemingly fresh ideas on approaches and financing models will also be evidenced.

Wednesday seems to be fairly technical – particularly if your interest is aspects of measuring and reporting and gaps between design and reality. Energy Performance Certificates and their in-use strength will be visited, and non-domestic Minimum Energy Performance Standards (following publication in July 2014) will showcase. For me the 10.30am slot – ‘Traditional Buildings’ – is the one to attend. The presentations should be sufficiently broad to encourage a lively discussion: aspects of perceived ‘difficulty’ of traditional buildings in achieving energy improvements with their acknowledged role in the wider vision of our sustainable future. Speakers drawn from SPAB, Historic Scotland and the National Trust – all presumably whom see the bigger picture of our built heritage on a daily basis. STBA will provide more technical factors of traditional fabric.

Thursday’s seminar schedule is a little shorter – but doesn’t lack quality for that. My suggestion is the 12.30pm ‘Retrofit Forensics: De-risking Refurbishment’. This offers ‘heads-up’ advice – things to anticipate and problems to head off before schemes are materially affected. Effective measures will be offered from management to technical tools available, delivering predicted energy savings and procurement route factors. The range of speakers again is strong from practicing architects, researchers, the BRE and a contractor and should offer a breadth of experience for the audience to draw upon for a pro-active Q&A wrap up.

Perhaps a ‘wild card’ offering for the heritage agenda may be the closing 3pm conference talk ‘Visions of the Future: Four Big Ideas’ where key speakers – notably the incoming UK-GBC Chief Executive Julie Hirigoyen – will summarise their take on the future challenges in the realisation of a more sustainable built environment. Presumably any mention of challenges will put our built heritage on the agenda so I’m hopeful this item is addressed, if not substantially then maybe this will springboard discussion at the close of the event.

I’m hoping to attend one day of the event but have yet to chose – has anyone else got difficulty selecting?!