Composites currently account for just a small percentage of the total building materials market and so there is huge potential for growth.

And there are signs that the traditionally very conservative construction industry is beginning to look to new materials as the whole life cycle cost of a project becomes more important, rather than just the initial cost. People are willing to spend a little more if they know the product is going to last longer and has to be replaced less frequency.

The move towards green building is also leading designers to look at new materials and building methods. While in the Middle East, the ornate nature of the architecture is seeing composites used in some impressive projects, such as the huge Dokaae clock tower featured on the cover of the March/April issue of Reinforced Plastics (which will be published next week). The feature on pages 30-35 of this issue looks at the applications for composites in the construction market and at some of the factors driving their growth. (You can also read the feature online.)

Their design flexibility, performance benefits and lightweighting advantages are also propelling the use of composites in the automotive industry. On pages 22-29 of the March/April issue we look at how composites are being used to reduce weight to meet fuel economy demands.

And finally, on pages 37-46, we take a snapshot of the whole composites industry, with a preview of the JEC Europe show taking place in Paris in late March. We hope to see many of you there. Send me a message if you'd like to meet up!