What we discovered at Futurebuild 2023

Same old stuff? sort of but……

Futurebuild is where we usually go to see what’s new, what’s changing, what companies are pushing to meet whatever new regulations or compliance documents are just out, or what technology will make our lives easier! 

This year I was surprised, I was expecting insulation and door / window manufacturers to be front and center shouting about thermal performance and how they have the best new products but this was far from the case. 

In the last year we have been giving talks on Part L, Part F and Part O of the new building regulations  (the regulations around fire are still up for interpretation). It’s a huge issue which will affect almost every product supplier to the building industry.  Nearly every window and door manufacturer we spoke to only offered very limited information on product performance.  Most door manufacturers were showing great looking doors but could not provide primary test data for fire resistance.  As for the window manufacturers, when discussing Part O, it was a case of it’s down to the designer to tell us what you need for a G value as we have no input. 

When you’re up against the new regulations there is no magic bullet and it’s down to the designers to make the building work.  This is no bad thing as that’s what we do, it just means there is less margin for error or change when a contractor wants to change something.

The best part of the show was watching Duncan Baker Brown’s thought provoking talk, which asked  everyone to do better, in terms of product use, reuse and building lifecycle, as the climate crisis is not going away (I highly recommend his book ‘The Re-use Atlas’). His talk had drawn one of the biggest crowds I’d seen at any of the talks all day which was good to see, but it should have been on the big stage, not off to the side!

Some of the things that impressed me at the show were:

SSAB steel were there with their Fossil Free Steel . I have been watching this product become a reality over the last couple of years and it’s great to see it become a real product which can change the way steel is made and have an amazing impact on the amount of CO2 created in the manufacturing process. This could be great for future steel frame buildings and steel components.   

Hemspan products were on show with various Hemp based climate positive insulation products which looked great but when used there would be a significant increase in depth (200mm in the cavity) needed to use them verses a PIR (under 150mm in the cavity) to meet the New Limiting U-Values in part L. In addition, it’s a class E reaction to fire rated product.

So yes, it’s innovative and sustainable, but definitely a conversation needed with the client before specifying this one. 

I liked the RECO tile panels from Reco Surfaces, they would make for some very quick installs and various ones with fire rated certification so great for council and public projects as well as the domestic market.

Edilians had some great looking solar tile alternatives, especially their Solar Max tile which is now available in a buff / brown to match more roofs and help the solar to blend in

I also had a really good conversation with Armatherm re their current range of products for thermal bridging components and the potential changes to external balconies in the future due to fire risks which may cascade out across the country. 

Lewis Metal Decks had a good shallow profile deck system that’s worth a look especially if you have a retrofit situation or where you need strength, acoustic and fire performance.

I have forgotten more than usual as this year was fairly paper free, all the stands had a scanner to get my details, so I expect to be inundated with emails over the next week and I’ll remember who else I spoke to!

As I said at the start, there was nothing really new and a lot of the big players were not there, so either they have enough work that they don’t need to exhibit, or times are tight and they don’t want to spend on events like this!

There is always something of value at the show, The Futurebuild exhibitors list is here and is fairly interactive so handy if you are after something in particular. 

Hope to see you all at the next one.

(This was my best selfie of the day, which says a lot……Honestly I had a great time)

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