Highlight of Sustainability Live: Green Build Hub

A drawing of Paul Bright

Sustainability Live 2013 happened last week at the Birmingham NEC. It’s a coming together of three separate events: NEMEX Live, EfW Expo and IWEX Water. Together they cover the renewables, energy efficiency, Energy from Waste and sustainable water industries.

The picture at the top of this blogpost is Paul Bright, who runs the Green Build Hub in Cornwall. Paul gave one of the days talks in Energy Theatre 1. His talk was classified Energy Efficiency in the Workplace, not a descriptive title as he was not giving tips on an everyday kind of workplace. This was for me the highlight of the day. Paul was speaking not about a company or about a piece of government legislation. He was introducing us to a project that is quietly trying to redefine what is true in energy efficiency. 

Really Paul Bright’s talk was the Green Build Hub, a ‘living laboratory’ in Cornwall, which is according to Paul is the UK’s capital of sustainability. The first wind turbines, ground source heat pumps, geothermal experiments and the UK Wave Hub were pioneered in Cornwall, also home to the most solar installations in the UK. 

The Green Build Hub is envisioned as a place to test building fabrics, materials and methodologies in an authentic environment. Usually products and materials and technologies are tested in a laboratory. The Green Build Hub is nicknamed GBH as an interpretation of Grievous Bodily Harm that is done to the natural environment but unwise building work. Paul said he wants the Green Build Hub to be everchanging: a place that will be constantly taken down and rebuilt using innovative new materials.

And so that’s why Paul is calling his project a ‘living laboratory’. For instance, double glazing will be set next to triple glazing to see whether there is any argument for triple glazing, which Paul suspects there isn’t. Myths will certainly be debunked around what is and isn’t good building practise, and energy efficiency methodologies from around the world will be put to practise. The point is to build efficiently and mindfully, without being influenced strongly by the market.

The Green Build Hub has been offered land by the Eden Project and will be open to the public, both for visits and for material donations. In other words, the Green Build Hub is accepting samples of building fabric to incorporate into its structure and test in an actual environment. At the end of his talk Paul was approached by a number of guys who had bought shipments of insulation or other fabric. These are presumably now on their way to Cornwall!

The GBH will be home to some of Cornwall’s sustainability groups such as Paul’s Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust (CSBT), so anyone reading this post who wants to will be able to go down and knock on his door.

About the author:

David Thomas writes about cleantech, government policy and energy efficiency for The Eco Experts. You can speak to him @theecoexperts


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Hello, I'm David. I write about energy efficiency and about the solar industry for websites Greendeal.co.uk and The Eco Experts. Skips rope and eats bread.

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