07 - 09 March 2023 | ExCeL, London

07 - 09 March 2023
ExCeL, London

Opinion piece

Making a digital impact at Futurebuild 2022

An opinion piece by Marie Grieve, Managing Director, Costello Palmer Communications and Content Creator for the Digital Impact stages at Futurebuild

Digital Impact made its return to Futurebuild 2022 as a spotlight area for digital construction and emerging technologies within the digital built environment.

The wonders of advancing technologies for construction were the very essence of this part of the show, where the speaker programme featured AEC leaders, pioneers and game-changers as well as stories from those who are achieving outstanding results in the digital built environment and what processes they follow to achieve this.

Digital Impact 2022 was both disruptive and innovative, focusing not on what is being done, but how and why. The Digital Impact speaker programme impressed with its future-thinking, expressing the need for universal cross-industry collaboration.

This sought-after part of the show represented the beating heart of the digital ecosystem of construction, offering a new digital experience, sharing with Futurebuild visitors how to stay ahead of the change with exclusive content on topics such as Sustainable Architecture, Digital Twin, Smart Cities and Immersive Technology.

A digital-snapshot

Digital construction and building information modelling (BIM) go hand in hand and because of these modern methods of construction the industry is forever innovating and as a result, forever growing. This growth is in terms of business development, project delivery, up-skilling, knowledge exchange, sustainability methods and so much more.

What we have witnessed in the past two years due to the pandemic is catastrophic change, however out of this tragedy has come triumph in the accelerated acceptance of digital ways of working. Digital Impact showcased this growth and all the positivity we are experiencing now because of the way we are digitally designing and building on a global scale.

The Digital Impact Stage live speaker programme took place over the three days of the show, with industry big-hitters delivering a series of talks and panels covering three key themes of Collaboration, Visualisation and Innovation.

John Adams, Head of Product for Glider, opened the show with his presentation on Why the future of construction is digital. In his talk, John looked at the digital road travelled so far, its positive influence and how the past two years during the pandemic have challenged us to embrace digital beyond what we thought was possible.

Glider was the key sponsor for the Digital Impact Stage and John continued to chair the stage and introduce all of the talks over the course of the show.

Highlights of the programme were the fusion of digital and sustainability to join the fight against climate change, how healthy buildings produce healthy environments, immersive technology, digital twins and unmissable developments on the intelligence driving our smart cities.

Of particular interest was the session from Eszter Gulascy, Technical Director, Mott MacDonald: Healthy Buildings – Healthy Environments, which detailed what makes a healthy building, from the point of view as to why we should care, what factors contribute to healthy indoor environments and what has changed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eszter explained the role that digitisation is playing in making buildings healthier, including the role of smart sensors and data processing.

Also touching on smart technology was the panel discussion chaired by WSP’s Technical Director, Johnathan Munkley: How do we build high-efficient, low-carbon cities. Johnathan is also the co-founder of ZERO an independent and pioneering industry group of construction professionals set up to support the AEC industry with its net-zero targets. Johnathan’s panellists discussed how to generate greater efficiencies in the design and build process and look at seven-ways cities can take action against climate change – starting with the use of smart tech and how we make better use of data.

Another insightful talk was from Bola Abisogun OBE FRICS, Founder and Executive Director, Urbanis. In his talk: The social housing challenge and how digital twins are presenting new solutions, Bola looked at how a successful data strategy should yield a digital twin, premised upon a robust data governance framework that maintains a series of relevant data standards, along with appropriate security procedures and legal considerations.

There we synergies amount many of the sessions on the programme, all with a key thread that data is a powerful tool for construction industry professionals and Dr Graham Kelly, Director of BIM Academy said data is our industry’s answer to climate change.

The drive towards sustainable buildings is growing. This is down to many key factors, which are having a huge impact on the AEC industry. There are growing concerns around climate change and the negative impact on the environment – especially wasted energy and resources generated from construction projects. Graham’s talk Exploiting data to improve how we plan, design and build sustainable assets covered the differing perceptions and misaligned expectations of the benefits and outcomes of data sets and sustainable design adoption, plus how this needs to be addressed quickly. Graham continued that sustainability now needs to become a key driver for the digital transformation of the built environment and addressing the challenges of climate change is a pressing agenda for us all.

Digital Impact was the perfect platform for understanding the links between digital construction processes and sustainability. The overarching theme for Futurebuild is innovation and on the Digital Impact stage, we weren’t short of innovative and inspirational talks. 

We saw how sustainable architecture is allowing us to meet the demands of growing populations and building in a greener way to meet these population needs from our built environment and how to build healthy buildings by maximizing the use of our data. Jaimie Johnson MBE, Board Director, Head of Global Systems at Bryden Wood gave us a teaser of the new “Transforming Infrastructure Performance: Roadmap to 2030” and equally Dr Shamir Ghumra, Head of Building Performance, BREEAM gave an exclusive look inside the new  “BREEAM Platform: data-driven whole life performance”, before it’s official launch in the summer of this year.

The level of knowledge and information exchange across just three days was astounding, for those who didn’t make it to the live event full details of the speakers and their talks can be found here, and there is a virtual event taking place on Thursday 17 March at 3.00 pm: The sustainable actions we need to take to build a better world – when some of our industry-leading speakers will join us once again to reflect on the three days of Digital Impact and the next-stage drivers for where the industry goes from here in the net-zero stakes.

Register for this virtual event here.

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