Inaugural event draws more than 270 participants from around the world

More than 270 architects, planners, engineers, contractors, wholesalers and suppliers from around the world accepted Aquatherm GmbH’s invitation to gain insights into the latest trends in the commercial and industrial construction industries at the inaugural BIGGEXCHANGE.

The event, which took place Tuesday, September 11 through Thursday, September 13 at Aquatherm’s world headquarters in Attendorn, Germany, drew attendees from across the globe, including Germany, the United States, South Korea, China, Finland, and New Zealand. They came to gain the perspectives of 16 world-class experts from architecture, industry, and science.

A session designed especially for architects and planners featured three additional speakers. Eike Becker (Eike Becker – Architects, Berlin), Stefan Holst (Transsolar Energietechnik, Stuttgart) and Jan Musikowski (Richter Musikowski, Berlin) presented current aesthetically and technologically challenging design examples from their practices.

From sustainability to digitization

Keynote speaker Matthias Horx opened the first day of the BIGGEXCHANGE. The influential futurologist talked about “The Power of Megatrends — How Digitalization, Urbanization and NEO-ecology are Changing Our World for the Better.” He explained various megatrends as well as their corresponding countertrends. In addition, he introduced the “Future Evolution House,” which is not a smart home in the sense of full automation of functions, but rather a home that is based on human relationships.

Dr. Alexander Rieck, who conducts research at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering and Organization in Stuttgart and is a partner and director of the international architecture firm Lava, spoke about “Future Construction Digital — How Building Will Change in the Digital Age.”

“We have a construction industry that has not been productive in the last 20 years,” Dr. Rieck said. “Instead of investing in new planning methods it has been invested in cheap labor. We need to change that.” He added this could be accomplished with “non-linear” planning.

Dr. Ing. Matthias Jacob from Implenia Hochbau GmbH demonstrated how innovative tools are changing the construction industry. His presentation included 3D-printed concrete houses, a digital wood construction process with the help of robots, and the collection of data by drones, which is becoming increasingly important in the construction industry.

Focus on BIM

One major focus of the event was an in-depth examination of building information modeling (BIM). Professor David Chua from the National University of Singapore reported about BIM in the context of manufacturing and assembly-ready product design.

“The future of construction lies in the field of prefabrication and integrated BIM,” Chua said.

Steve Butler, Senior Industry Strategist for MEP at Autodesk, noted that low productivity and environmental concerns are forcing changes in how buildings are designed, constructed, and maintained, and discussed some of the emerging trends that are enabling those changes and suggested where the commercial MEP industry might be headed in the near future.

Dr. Nicolai Ritter, solicitor at the Berlin office of the international law company CMS, talked about BIM and law.

“This method for optimizing the planning, building, and administrating of real estate by means of digital models is legally not problematic nor does it raise new legal risks,” Ritter said. “However, it is necessary to correctly understand the legally applicable rules and to accurately represent BIM.” In his presentation he gave tips on contracting, fees, and liability issues.

Communication expert Peter Heinrich discussed the importance of voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR). Heinrich, the managing partner of Heinrich GmbH — Agency for Communication in Ingolstadt, explained to the participants of the BIGGEXCHANGE which points are essential for successful CSR communications.

Management Consultant Robert Egger explained how the latest findings from neurophysics can help boost worker efficiency. Egger, who is also an ambassador of the Shaolin temple, finished the first conference day by introducing the attendees to some practical exercises to that end.

Second conference day focused on sustainability and technology

The second conference day started with another keynote speaker: Arab Hoballah, who served for 25 years as an expert on urbanization and sustainability for the United Nations.

“We have the technology to do business sustainably, but we do not use it,” Hoballah said, noting that he sees it as a responsibility of politicians to change this situation.

Following Hoballah, Julia Goerke from Thinkstep AG pointed out how important sustainable building is.

“The construction sector plays a key role in international and national climate policy because it causes one-third of global CO2 emissions from construction site through use to demolition,” Goerke said. “For this reason, measures have been taken for years to reduce environmental pollution from the construction sector.” She introduced the BIGGEXCHANGE participants to a number of certification systems for sustainable buildings and spoke about the requirements in the field of building services.

Information about the interaction between building construction and building fire protection was provided by Manfred Lippe, one of the leading experts in building fire protection in Germany. He discussed various bulkheading options for walls or ceilings and provided examples of how to prevent the transmission of fire and smoke during a building fire.

How ice energy storage and power-generating roofs can contribute to the energy transition was explained by Heiko Lüdemann. Based on concrete examples, the managing director of Viessmann Eis-Energiespeicher GmbH showed the participants tools through which they can best meet the heating and cooling requirements in new and existing buildings while making them nearly carbon dioxide-free.

Using natural forces

The focus of the BIGGEXCHANGE was not only on urbanization and digitization, but also on climate change and sustainability.

Bernd Schwarzfeld, the founder of the Ökoplan engineering office and an expert on building technical plants, illustrated why climate change is the result of planned actions.

The attendees learned from Martin Palsa, managing director of Grundfos GmbH, how digitization will change the role of pumps. Palsa presented the concept “iSolutions,” in which pumps are integrated into complex systems. Monitoring, operation, and analysis of pumps by cloud-based applications are all elements in this new concept.

Professor Brian Cody, head of the faculty for building and energy of the Graz Technical University, talked about the maximization of building energy performance by using natural forces.

“In the design of buildings, we have to work with the existing natural forces,” he said, providing numerous examples of how this can succeed.

The second conference day ended with a presentation by Jürgen Hahnrath, head of industry solution sales at Cisco Systems Deutschland. Hahnrath’s lecture dealt with the Internet of Things (IoT) and showed how the vast amounts of data acquired from machines, buildings, and vehicles can be used for planning and controlling purposes. As an example, he mentioned the optimization of lighting in a city, which can be adapted based on weather and traffic data.

Networking, Exchanges of Expertise a Priority

The numerous lectures were an important part of the event, but of equal importance was the exchange of expertise.

“Intense communication between people means that today’s visions can be put into reality tomorrow,” explained Dirk Rosenberg, a managing director, along with his brothers Maik and Christof, of Aquatherm. To that end, the attendees were provided with numerous opportunities to network, at two evening events as well as the breaks between lectures.

I sincerely wish to congratulate you for this great, well-attended and very successful first BIGGEXCHANGE. I thank you for having invited me to be part of this adventure and interesting journey.

Thank you for inviting me. Congratulations on such a success, this is a great initiative.

Congratulations on the successful event. That was really great, and I enjoyed it.

My compliments for a very successful event! It was a great event for me. I would have thought it had taken place for many years and was fully established.

Thanks again for the inspiring and nice event!

The most timely topics, the symposium organization, the invited speakers and guests, the host and the design of the whole — everything was thought through and carried out at the highest level.

Thanks again for the great organization of the BIGGEXCHANGE. The event was successful and has brought us many interesting ideas and exciting contacts.

This event is certainly unique in this form and has brought a lot of new contacts in addition to the highly interesting lectures. The technical exchange gave a series of new ideas.

I want to thank you again for the organization of BIGGEXCHANGE. I am still overwhelmed by the creative ideas the speakers have given me.

Highly interesting lectures, top-class participants and last, but not least, a perfect organization made this event a complete success.

High quality is core to your products, and this high-quality event also had excellent organization, catering and speakers. All were absolutely great!

Thank you very much for the successful BIGGEXCHANGE event. For us, the days were intense, helpful and horizon-expanding. Thank you as well as for your great hospitality.

It was a great opportunity to break out of the narrow-mindedness of our day-to-day business. My and our common task now is to transfer the many ideas into concrete action. In addition to the many interesting contacts, the two “Come Togetherˮ events were a great success. The service, the quality of the food, and the shuttle service left nothing to be desired. And the choice of the location turned out great.

Simply excellent work on BIGGEXCHANGE. The event was seamless, and I was impressed with the attention to detail put into everything from the speakers to logo-engraved apples. I have reviewed my notes several times now. Much to think about.