Decarbonising the built environment and the value of innovation

For those who have been on bimstore since 2011, you may remember bimshow live. The message 11 years ago was to digitise the industry, but now we have a new challenge that is even more significant than our digital transformation. Similar to bimshow live, around one hundred innovative industry-leading sustainability advocates attended Space Group's new annual conference, _shift.

Introducing the event, Rob spoke about the company's bim timeline that began in 2001/2002, 

"I reckon we still would have been talking about this bim thing in the construction industry if it wasn't for legislation in 2011, and that's what we now need on this journey."

Taking place on November 9th at Newcastle University's award-winning Henry Daysh building, _shift proved to be an essential day of conversations exploring the building sectors' role in reducing emissions and combating climate change. Attendees of this year's event travelled from all over Europe to the North East for this momentous occasion, orchestrated to inspire and instigate transformative action. 

The first in-person event of its kind, it was an electric day of discussions and networking between innovators and representatives spanning every breadth of the industry. Architects, construction workers, policymakers, building materials companies, tech startups, venture capitalists, environmental experts, and more were each brought together under one roof with one common mission; decarbonising the built environment. 

The mind behind this important event, Space Group's CEO Rob Charlton, set the scene and reminded everyone of the severity of the day's focus. 

Rob referenced the UN secretary general's statement at COP27, 

"We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator." 

Following an illuminating Climate Timeline video, the former Head of Sustainability Innovation at IKEA,  Håkan Nordkvist, presented how we can innovate, build a circular society and change earth systems for the better.

"Governments need to be bolder,"

cited from Håkan, connected closely to the advice and findings offered by Chris Hines MBE, Founding member of Surfers Against Sewage and Former Sustainability Director of the Eden Project. The _shift audience hung onto every word as Chris offered honest insights into how activism can enact real and lasting environmental change. Overall, the sentiment was optimistic, and it was fascinating to hear Hakan and Chris discuss their experiences of bettering the lives of people and the planet, emphasising how the built environment can now do the same. 

The conference proved a huge success, as industry knowledge was further delivered by many speakers and panellists, including Jamie Horgan from SureCav, Helen Kerrigan from Newcastle City Council and Scott Bush, Co-founder of Low Carbon Materials, finalists in this year's Earthshot Prize. 

Closing the conference, Rob Charlton reminded everyone of the pressing issues we face and the need for immediate drastic action on all levels.

The day provided key insights into how we, as the construction industry, navigate this new journey, and we look forward to seeing and hearing the difference made during the year between _shift22 and _shift23. _shift finished with beers and discussions, just as bimshow live once had. 

An enjoyable and eye-opening day was had by all who left inspired to take drastic action towards the decarbonisation of the built environment. 


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