Future Footprints Seminar

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The Future Footprints Seminar took place on Tuesday the 26th of November 2013 at the Lighthouse in Glasgow. Held by Architecture and Design Scotland (A&DS) in conjunction with the Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP) and Glasgow Caledonian University, it was attended by delegates from a variety of professional backgrounds. As the construction sector is the most significant consumer of the world’s natural resources the seminar sought to address how, with the increased constraints of cost, availability of materials, and issues related to environmental impact, we are going to meet future construction needs.

The morning session concentrated on future issues for the construction industry. Opening the event Lori McElroy of A&DS outlined the work of the Sust. Programme introducing the library of sustainable materials, which had served as the inspiration for the Future Footprints event. Setting the scene, Gary Newman Executive Chair from the Alliance of Sustainable Building Materials looked at the bigger picture pointing out that with the current increases in population and costs of commodities we have reached the point of “peak ownership” and must look at getting more from less. Tom Woolley, Architect and Environmental Consultant then outlined some of the health and fabric performance risks that can be associated with synthetic materials and advocated the use of hemp and lime based products. Craig Jones of Circular Ecology covered the issues regarding embodied carbon and whether or not embodied water may become the next important measure to consider. Concentrating on the Scottish context Richard Atkins advocated utilizing a material strategy and restoring and reusing elements and materials, citing two case studies as examples. Keith Baker of Glasgow Caledonian University then updated us on the NEES project.

The afternoon session covered specific materials following the categories of classification in the Materials Library, beginning with Wood, as David Hopkins from Wood for Good talked about resource efficiency with regards to timber, citing wood as a carbon store and outlining case study projects. Addressing the roots of Scottish construction Roger Curtis of Historic Scotland took on the subjects of Stone, Minerals and Paints and Coatings, outlining the historic uses of Stone, Lime and Earth in Construction particularly citing lime as a material we should be reconsidering. John Dowling of the British Constructional Steelwork Association promoted the inherent re-useable nature of Metals and steel in particular while also considering the difficulties of implementing this in practice. Julian Richards of Milestone Kitchens, promoted Recycled Plastics citing their kitchens made from recycled materials such as coffee cups and yoghurt pots. Sita Goudie of Enviroglass explained the development of their product as an innovative way of dealing with Shetland’s waste glass, due to shipping costs it is cheaper for the council to supply them with the glass for free which then leaves the islands as a value added product. Concrete and other Minerals were covered by Robert Brown from the Concrete Society who argued that concrete can be a sustainable material, particularly in terms of supporting small communities. Providing a solution for waste paint Eric Wemyss of Castle Repaint outlined their social enterprise, which reuses leftover paint while also providing training for local people and reduced price products for those on a tight budget. The afternoon was concluded by Mark Lynn of Thermafleece who advocated the benefits of Textile and Crop materials and their diverse uses. Both sessions were concluded by lively and thought provoking debates posing a variety of questions to the panel.

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