29th March 2012 Lima, Peru

Ecobuild: cost effective low carbon designs, products and solutions

By Juan Luis Reus, Deputy Director UKTI, Peru

Juan Luis Reus, Deputy Director UKTI Peru

Time flies they say and that is true at Ecobuild (20to 22 March), the world’s largest event for sustainable design, construction and the build environment. Two days had passed at ExCel, where this huge world class event was being held when I wrote this second blog. Huge because of the size of this place that has a southern and a northern exhibit room, with more than 1500 exhibitors from the UK and other countries.

The Latin American delegation was composed of more than 40 delegates from Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. Some are project developers, others are engineers and architects. They travelled for different reasons and objectives; to learn about the latest on efficient design solutions for saving energy; to see up close the latest construction materials; to understand the latest trends and evolution of renewable energies. Yes, Ecobuild offers an incredible range of new products and technologies, and innovative solutions and services.

Two different stories: In the UK and other parts of Europe it is now completely understood and accepted that refurbishment is the key to achieving a low carbon environment. The majority of the buildings that exist today will exist in 2050.But in Latin America we are building! So what is refurbishing? Most of our economies are trying hard to recuperate lost time during the 70s and 80s. There is plenty of empty lots still but less than a few years ago. Large commercial, residential and all types of public and private projects are under construction as I write this blog. This is especially true for Peru which has a USD 50bn infrastructure deficit and a large office space deficit, commercial and housing deficit too. Jose Orrego from Metropolis is currently designing several shopping centres outside Lima to satisfy the growing population of middle class consumers. Last week I read in one of our main newspapers that in the next few years USD 1500 million will be invested in new shopping malls, many outside Lima.

The UK and other European countries are trying to meet new government standards for sustainable construction and energy use. Despite concessions, housebuilders must meet tough carbon reduction targets for new homes. According to James Blue, Ecobuild CEO, the Green Deal is taking shape, and if the right incentives are in place, there will be a boom in low carbon retrofits, and adds that in August the UK will stage the greenest Olympics ever.

Ecobuild 2012

So what can we learn from the UK experience? In the short term we may be less concerned about the issues and regulations that we may be still a few years ahead from enforcing and implementing. However, from a commercial and business perspective many low carbon designs, products and solutions are also cost effective and are a good alternative for the growing numbers of Latin American constructors.

UKTI trade officers worked very diligently these last couple of months in planning for the visit to Ecobuild. We organized visits to leading companies such as BDP Architects and MacBains Cooper, and to places such as the BRE Innovation Park and, yes, the Olympic Village, which we visited . Also, while we were in the UK we also wanted our delegates to tell UK companies about what is going on in Latin America. At British Expertise delegates from Colombia, Chile and Peru ttold them about projects and opportunities for UK investors.

There is much more to talk about when it comes to business opportunities. I’d be happy to answer any questions in our office in Lima. In my next blog I will comment on my visit to the BRE Innovation Park. It was quite an experience!

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