In November we attended the London Build Expo 2019 at Kensington Olympia, it was completely free to attend and with a packed agenda. With seven summit areas for presentations and debate, covering a broad range of topics including a Futures Summit, Infrastructure, BIM & Digital Construction, Sustainability and Innovation & Fire Safety, there was a hefty timetable to adhere to.

Our tactic was to pick some of the industry’s hottest topics and head straight for those. For Keltbray these included ‘Off-site construction’, ‘The Digital Construction Revolution’, ‘Inclusivity and Diversity’, ‘Wellbeing in the Workforce’, ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Women in Construction’.

‘Off-site construction’ is a fast-growing subject that refers to the manufacturing, planning, design, fabrication and assembly of building works at an alternative location to the site, this supports rapid speed, efficient construction, de-risks and also spreads the wealth. The subject of digitisation was also everywhere and across multiple summits, with a dedicated area for all things BIM.

Of all the zones, unsurprisingly, ‘Sustainability’ was very busy, with multiple references to the challenge of achieving net-zero carbon by 2050. For Skanska, this is 2045, and they had some interesting data and impressive ways of tracking their own output. However, many in attendance agreed that there is a lot to be done to achieve ‘net zero’ and it’s dubbed as one of our industry’s greatest challenges. Amongst the speakers on the panel, Dr. Angela Brady OBE was truly inspirational, an architect with incredible passion, a former RIBA President with an outstanding 20 year plus knowledge on sustainability and the construction industry.

The ‘Inclusivity and Diversity’ panel was very strong with key leaders from the industry including Catherine Cobb, Traffic Signals Graduate Engineer, Inclusion and Diversity Ambassador at Amey, and Hollie Woodward, Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at VolkerWessels, led by the very impressive Christina Riley of Kier Group.

As expected the ‘Women in Construction’ summit was very popular, all seats were filled and a larger stage has already been confirmed for next year. The question we’re asking however, is how many of these do we have to keep attending until progress is made? Whilst we acknowledge that these events are important, there was a noticeable lack of diversity on the panel itself, as all five participants were women. With that being said, those that stood out for us were Sharon Duffy, Head of Transport & Infrastructure at TfL, and Kath Moore MBE, Managing Director at Women Into Construction CIC – both impressive women with a lot to say.

Finally, we would highly recommend attending London Build Expo 2020, the dates are already confirmed for the 18th & 19th November. For a free event with a packed schedule of inspiring presentations and speakers, it’s well worth a visit.