Capita Symonds at Ecobuild 2011

2 March 2011

Ecobuild, the world’s biggest event for the sustainable built environment, kicked off yesterday at ExCeL in London.

Capita Symonds’ revolutionary ‘Cool Workspace’ installation provided event-goers with a unique insight into the sustainable office of the future. The 10m x 15m structure has been designed to showcase how companies can reduce energy by up to 50% through the use of the latest sustainable technologies, increase productivity, and take advantage of the latest innovative commercial models for funding.

As well as interactive features such as a touchdown space, a table football game and QR codes, it also features a ‘Brain Cloud’ which is powered by an exercise bike to demonstrate the possibilities of green energy.

The installation also hosted a special ‘Pecha Kucha’ event during the evening. Created in Tokyo, this innovative style of presentation encourages a rapid promotion and exchange of ideas based around a loose format of ’20 images in 20 seconds’.

Featuring Gurvinder Khurana, Essentia Designs; Fergus Brown, Bene; Liane Hartley, Mend; Joseph Tefler, Virtus; and Andrew Pryke, Capita Symonds, the event’s theme was ‘Electric Dreams and Nightmares’. The protagonists discussed what they consider to be good and bad working environments, touching upon homeworking, poetry, soft furnishings and toilets with views…

One of the other highlights of day one was Capita Symonds and Parsons Brinckerhoff’s highly innovative session on community engagement. Featuring Capita Symonds’ Lisa Skinner and Emily Hamilton, and PB’s Lynne Ceeney, the seminar began by recreating a typical community scenario – The Wattlecombe Consultation Meeting – complete with hawkish developers, vociferous NIMBYs, concerned local businesses, and worried politicians.

The session’s central theme was centered around the government’s Localism Bill which proposes to decentralise decision making, giving local authorities and communities greater autonomy in choosing how to deliver council’s services, offering communities tools to help design, plan and deliver their visions of a sustainable community.

The Department for Communites and Local Government, however, has already been flooded with comments relating to whether community-led sustainable development is practicable and whether local communities visions will be similar to the strategic visions of local authorities. What’s more, there is also a perceived danger that the bill will skew the system against developers.

The session highlighted the need for continuous dialogue between the community, developers, local authority and other stakeholders throughout the development process, listening and reacting to each other and being collectively involved in the decision making process. Only through such two-way community engagement will development proposals have the necessary buy-in which will be critical to success under the new system.

The seminar also discussed the role of new communication channels such as Facebook in facilitating genuine dialogue between stakeholders.

Day one also saw Capita Symonds’ Anthony Petrilli speaking on ‘Implications for construction sector’ as part of the session: ‘Refurbishing Britain: A plan for every home. Anthony discussed the industry’s response to the Climate Change Act 2008 which targets the UK to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Suzanne Roberts of Capita Symonds, meanwhile, took part in the ‘Regulations Revealed: CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme - beyond the introductory phase’ session, updating delegates on the scheme, who it applies to, what are the qualifying parameters and resulting obligations, how it works, key dates and phases.

The keynote address on day two (Wednesday) will be delivered by celebrated architect/planner Sir Terry Farrell under the title Shaping a Sustainable London: The World’s First Industrial City to the World’s Most Liveable Metropolis. Professor Brian Cox, meanwhile, will be providing a collective swoon when he speaks at the ‘Can Science Save Us?’ conference.

On Thursday Capita Symonds’ Yianni Spanos will be speaking on ‘Smart metering specification and roll out update’’ in the ‘Energy in Buildings: The Future’s Efficient, the Future’s Smart’ seminar which takes place at 14.15-15.45 in South Gallery Room 29.