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By Chris Brierley, Business Development Manager

The climate conversation cannot start and end at COP26. How the Active Building Centre will host its own climate conference on the banks of the Severn this autumn.

Climate gloucestershire – a summit of our own

Cast your eyes across the Severn Estuary and you can see generations of energy policy set out in the Gloucestershire landscape.

It is written in the hills of the Forest of Dean where miners once hewed coal from the ground on an industrial scale, beside the Severn at Berkeley where the decommissioned nuclear power station still stands, and on the land at Alveston where modern wind turbines turn.

Now, as we prepare for fresh change, a conversation about the future of energy is taking place in Berkeley – a stone’s throw from the walls of that power station – here at the Active Building Centre.

The COP26 climate change summit in Scotland will be a landmark moment this autumn, but the conversation cannot start and end there. Changes to the way we create and consume energy will touch every one of us – wherever we live.

So, before world leaders descend on Glasgow, we will be holding a summit of our own in the Gloucestershire countryside. Formally, it’s called Climate Gloucestershire. Already, it’s been dubbed COP26 Gloucestershire, and the name might just stick. On October 21, it will see the Active Building Centre host an event discussing the issues set to dictate whether the UK succeeds or fails in meeting its net-zero goals.

A broadcaster, policymakers and politicians

Hosted by broadcaster Robert Llewellyn – creator of the clean energy and electric vehicle channel Fully Charged – our conference will consider how to transform construction to create greener buildings and some of the biggest issues facing policymakers grappling with these challenges.

Industry leaders like Dale Vince of Ecotricity, politicians, and experts will come together to ask how we find the workforce we’ll need to bring sweeping change to our homes and offices. They will ask how the public sector can champion that change, who will lead the push to net zero, and who will pay.

Solutions to all the above will have to be – in part at least – local, and our conference will draw on the expertise on our doorstep. The University of Gloucestershire will support a session on how to ensure the intelligent homes of the future are cyber-secure. South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, meanwhile, will help lead a debate on getting the skills we need to fit technology for greener homes.

Showing progress in action

The event will be a chance to showcase the huge advantages we have at the Active Building Centre, including our buildings demonstrating the tech that has made homes and offices more energy-efficient through the years. Where once cavity wall insulation was the last word in greener living, now the most ambitious properties generate their own power, know what weather is coming, then decide whether to deploy their energy, store it or return it to the grid.

At the Active Building Centre, we can do more than explain how that progress has been made; we can show it in action.

That is why a conference here at Berkeley makes so much sense. Panellists who gather here will be surrounded by the visions of transformative green building technology that could be commonplace across the UK, and that matters.

Making greener buildings a reality

For too many people, the debate about greener homes is an academic one. The idea of revolutionising buildings – responsible for 40% of the UK’s emissions – can seem futuristic. Here at the Active Building Centre, it is very real. We are carrying out research to help make the technology we need to do the job more efficient and affordable and showing how it can create properties that are cheaper to own and run.

The Active Building Centre itself emerged from Swansea University, in a city where millions of tonnes of Welsh coal were once shipped. Shifting approaches to energy have made the waterside there a very different place, and in future change will come even faster. Our gathering alone won’t transform the debate about how that change takes place, but we can hear the voices that matter. You don’t need to rally world leaders to have a frank conversation and talk some good sense. We look forward to the debate, and to sharing our panellists’ wisdom with the wider world.

To register for the event click here.