31 March 2020
By William Butcher

Futurebuild 2020: Tackling the climate emergency

Earlier on this month, when life was still normal and we could leave our homes and go to events, KLH graduates, Will and Katie, attended the Futurebuild conference. The majority of time was spent at the ‘Resourceful Materials’ Stage listening to discussions on a range of interesting topics including innovative natural materials, low carbon ‘deep retrofits’ and what built environment professionals need to know in order to successfully deliver ‘net-zero emissions by 2050’. 


Every year, the various sessions held at Futurebuild highlight the severity of the climate crisis and limited time remaining to achieve the Paris Agreement climate targets. However, they also present a breadth of solutions that are available to the industry in response to the various challenges.


Graphenestone’s natural lime-based paint is free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), toxic substances and carcinogens. However, unlike other sustainable brands out there, it uses graphene nanotechnology to absorb more carbon in the drying process than is emitted in its production. According to the studies carried out by their manufacturer in Spain, three 15 litre buckets of their paint can absorb 14.40kg carbon dioxide during drying – the same amount as an adult tree in one year! 


Another great example of a company that seeks to make the built environment more sustainable and healthier is Biohm. Its team of researchers, designers and engineers apply the principles of the circular economy to building design focussing on the use of bio-based, healthy, compostable materials such as insulation made of mycelium, which is the fungus-like bacteria that creates mushrooms. Director of design, Oksana Bondar, announced that Biohm will soon be opening their first closed-loop manufacturing facility near Somerset in May, that will mass produce these innovative building products  whilst contributing to the local economy of this rural location.


Finally, another noteworthy session was presented by award winning architect, Harry Paticas, on ‘deep retrofits’. Harry discussed his approach to the reuse of buildings using his own home as a case study. Harry retrofitted his own late 1970’s mid-terrace townhouse which became the first certified step-by-step EnerPHit retrofit in the UK. Carrying out most of the building work himself, he learned by doing as a way of informing best building practice, specifying materials with low embodied carbon, reducing construction waste where possible, and using sensors to measure indoor air quality levels.


All these examples show is that there are already many solutions out there to deliver better buildings. This year’s conference sent a clear message: a united call for the industry to work together in order to tackle the climate emergency.


At KLH, we work hard to explore the various opportunities with our clients and project teams, to implement sustainable solutions in a collaborative way, bringing business value in the process. Like Futurebuild, we promote knowledge-sharing and innovation to enable our clients to do things differently, addressing climate change one project at a time. If you’d like to know more about how KLH can help your project achieve its sustainability ambitions, do get in touch!

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