With just a week to go before major trade event UK Construction Week (UKCW) comes to London for the very first time, here are 10 things that every construction professional should look out for at the show:
1. Celebrate the arrival of 40 all-night trekkers, walking to ExCeL in the name of mental health
Opening the show on Tuesday 3 May will be an intrepid band of construction workers, industry VIPs and a BBC TV crew who will have trekked over 26 miles through the night, from Twickenham Stadium to ExCeL in London’s Docklands.
Led by Stephen Kerslake of Construction Sport, the marathon walkers are raising awareness of mental health issues in the industry and using sport to drive positive change. Make sure you’re there at 10am, alongside George Clarke, architect and TV presenter, to see them arrive, hand them a well-deserved cuppa, and cheer their fantastic achievement.
2. Hear hard-hitting truths on culture change
Prepare yourself for some blunt words and possibly uncomfortable debates on the UKCW Main Stage, as Lord Greenhalgh, the Minister of State for Building Safety and Fire, Dame Judith Hackitt and Amanda Long, who leads the industry’s Building a Safer Future Charter, spell out the imminent legislative changes on fire safety that will impact all parts of the industry.
This is just the first of 100 presentations over three days, all focused on UKCW London’s theme of culture change in construction.
The UKCW Main Stage (sponsored by COINS) will see industry leaders explaining how we can achieve a step change in building safety, Net Zero and carbon reduction, retrofit, digitalisation, public procurement, social value, recruitment and retention, stamping out modern slavery, and improving diversity, health and wellbeing.
It’s the sort of thought leadership content you’d normally have to pay hundreds of pounds to access, all provided free at the show.
3. Marvel at the UK’s first on-site 3D reinforced concrete printer
Are the machines taking over? Check out the UK’s first on-site 3D reinforced concrete printer which will be showing off its robotic prowess in the Concrete Expo area of the show. Printfrastructure is already being used by HS2’s tunnels contractor to make lower carbon concrete structures on site, printing them from concrete laced by microscopic strands of graphene, the strongest material in the world.
Other amazing innovations include IPM Group’s Intelipod, the world’s first touchless, fully automated and self-contained access control unit, and Copptech’s tailor-made antimicrobial technologies for building materials.
DXC Technology is launching its latest ‘mixed reality’ technology for housebuilders, and the Innovation Zone is packed with clever eco-focused products such as advanced sensors for buildings to improve air quality, multi award-winning tapes for insulation boards for improving thermal performance, an energy and chemical-free water purification system, and reusable pallets.
Overall, UKCW London will host more than 300 exhibitors and an estimated 10,000 construction products, tools and vehicles. Many stands are offering discounts, free samples, competitions and prize draws, including tickets to major sporting fixtures, Bosch tools, custom LEGO figures, training vouchers, free software subscriptions, vintage champagne and even afternoon tea at the Shard up for grabs.
4. Meet the enlightened clients and contractors
It’s rare to get the opportunity to meet the UK’s biggest, busiest and most enlightened construction clients and contractors in person, but many of them are presenting or even exhibiting at UKCW London.
For example, Sky will talk about its partnership approach to protecting human and labour rights on its recently completed Sky Innovation Centre, the GLA will showcase its developer service to boost affordable housing in London, Skanska will reveal how it is using AI to improve some of its major projects and Kier will offer its guide to temporary works. The Infrastructure Projects Authority will present opportunities for offsite construction in rail, roads and utilities. HS2 will be on stand L83.
5. Tour a low carbon modular home at the UK’s first ‘Green Living Live’
UK Construction Week focuses on the trades and professions in construction, while co-located Grand Designs Live focuses on self-builders and consumers.
But this year, for the first time, a new feature area called ‘Green Living Live’ will offer something for all audiences, including a chance to take a tour around ModPod’s Low-Carbon House and discover a host of Kevin McCloud’s favourite sustainable building materials, insulation, heating and renewable systems, furnishings, and electric car-charging equipment.
6. Hop between hubs for a whole year’s worth of CPD points
As always, UK Construction Week has dedicated hubs with free seminar programmes covering all the biggest issues in construction.
The Digital Construction Hub (curated by Build in Digital) will showcase those companies pioneering a tech-led approach to construction, engineering and architecture. It will deliver practical workshops covering BIM, digital twins, cybersecurity, the Golden Thread of information, big data, artificial intelligence, and the range of ways in which cutting-edge technology can improve efficiency, productivity and profitability.
For seriously big learning from seriously big projects, the Infrastructure Hub (sponsored by CEMEX) will showcase all the lessons learned from major projects like HS2, Thames Tideway, Royal Docks London and the West Midlands Growth Engine.
Become a Net Zero hero at the Sustainability Hub. This section will look at everything from best practice in low carbon building and retrofit from Europe to regenerative design and biomimicry, hydrogen innovation, 3D printing, waste issues and building for disassembly.
The Offsite Alliance Hub, plus the Buildoffsite Theatre in the Offsite Show area, will bring together MMC experts, industry bodies, government, local authorities and housing associations to explain how we increase the uptake and delivery of offsite technologies.
Or, to keep things really simple, just camp out at UK Construction Week’s dedicated CPD Hub which will happily deliver you a variety of fully certified CPD content and activities, all in one place.
7. Get an exclusive report on how ESG will change the culture of construction
Even if incoming legislation and new regulation fails to force an industry to change, investors’ demands for better ESG policies (environmental, social and corporate governance) will transform the way the construction industry works, according to the findings of a new report from leading researcher AMA Research, part of Barbour ABI Group and written by independent industry commentator and analyst Brian Green.
This report is only being made available to delegates who register to attend UK Construction Week London, so sign up today and get your copy.
8. Sample a campus of construction learning
A ticket to UK Construction Week London provides access to multiple theatre stages and five specialist hubs as well as access to co-located shows Concrete Expo (3-4 May), the Offsite Show (3-5 May), and Grand Designs Live (30 April-8 May).
Industry conferences partnering with UKCW include the Future of Work in Construction (4 May), where a top line-up of speakers will share their expertise including Mark Thurston, chief executive of HS2, Amanda Fisher, chief executive of Amey, Kate Dowding, executive VP of Skanska, Tom Bowen, managing director of Keltbray and Sally Cleaver, group diversity manager for Willmott Dixon, to name a few.
The REA’s Decarbonising Buildings Conference (5 May) also features examples from national and local government, housing associations and the private sector who are all mobilising to increase the energy efficiency of our buildings – a project that could reduce annual energy costs by £7.5bn a year, create 150,000 jobs and reduce national carbon emissions by more than 20%.
9. Skills shortages? Head to the Careers Fair
Determined to tackle the sharpest skills shortages and greatest number of job vacancies on record, UK Construction Week London is launching its first careers fair, featuring a programme of careers advice workshops from industry leaders, plus information from groups such as MOBIE, The Mayor of London’s student design competition, and Building People, and learn about Talentview and the Talent Retention Scheme from the Construction leadership Council, and how they are aiming to have a positive impact in the war for talent.
10. Party with the country’s best new talent
Celebrate the best of construction talent at the announcement of UKCW’s Role Models Awards 2022 shortlist, and Fix Radio’s Tradesperson of the Year Awards – an opportunity to recognise the unsung heroes across the industry and hear inspiring stories and career journeys. The drinks will flow at both receptions, but you can also enjoy live entertainment at the end of a busy day and meetup with new and familiar faces at the Central Bar.
For three days, ExCeL will become the construction industry’s biggest marketplace under one roof and visitors are sure to benefit from the networking and come away with new business opportunities. To help boost the networking opportunities, plan ahead and download the free UKCW app from both iOS and Android app stores to book one-to-one meetings with delegates and exhibitors.
It’s not too late to squeeze UK Construction Week into your diary next week.