Hosted at the Scott Brownrigg designed International Convention Centre in Newport, Wales Tech Week 2023 was a three day event that brought together more than 75 exhibitors, 300 speakers, and 4,000 attendees at the end of October.
Director of Digital Development Ana Matic joined a panel of speakers from a range of industries to discuss ‘Can Wales be a Pioneer in the Circular Economy?’ Together the panel explored a range of topics including the need for legislation and education to drive cultural and behavioural change, collaboration and partnerships to drive innovation, and thinking beyond the boundaries of Wales and the rest of the UK in order to deploy best practice for positive global impact.
Speaking of what circularity means to the construction industry, Ana touched upon the reduction of waste, the need to use natural resources and reuse existing buildings or building components, and creating sustainable communities. She also briefly covered the technological advances in measuring both embodied and operational carbon in the built environment and emphasised the importance of legislation to push development in Wales.
"It may seem counterintuitive as architects, but the very first question we should be asking a client is ‘Do we really need to build something?’ If the answer is yes, the next question of course is ‘Can we retrofit?’ Early stage design is where we have the biggest chance to influence the direction and outcome of the project, it’s about helping our clients make the right decisions."
Scott Brownrigg are working with other organisations to develop the design of materials and buildings so that they can be reused but the real challenge is recycling mechanical systems. Ana believes that we are therefore likely to see a shift back towards using more traditional building materials such as timber, stone and brick.
Conversely, when it comes to measuring the embodied and operational carbon associated with our buildings, technology will be key. We now have a whole plethora of digital tools to help us with this, including Digital Twin technology which can help us monitor, manage and maintain our buildings, make predictions and plan for the future. We are approaching a very near future where ecosystems of Digital Twins will enable us to significantly reduce the energy used in buildings and make informed decisions connected to impact of future developments. As Wales moves towards a zero carbon future, these will be crucial to enable sustainable development and communities.
You can register to watch the panel discussion in full here. Wales Tech Week - Net Zero Stage - Can Wales be a Pioneer in the Circular Economy? (haia.live)