Friday, 23 June 2017

Green sky thinking

With the Green Infrastructure Challenge over for another year, member of the judging panel FM Group Vice Chair David Stevens takes a look at what made the competition's winner stand out, and what it might mean for the future of Facilities Management.

OpenCity’s Green Sky Thinking week (15-19 May) is designed to get people thinking about green issues in new ways. As the name implies, it’s an ‘anything goes’ opportunity to look at green principles and technology free of any baggage, and how they can be applied to make our lives more sustainable. CIBSE and the ARCC Network take part by, among other things, running the Green Infrastructure Challenge – a specific look at the way green technology can be applied to building services.

Green technology impacts just about every industry and profession connected to buildings, from the structure to the lighting and the drainage, but in my opinion it is facilities managers who got by far the most food for thought out of what we learned from the challenge. It’s clear that green infrastructure is now a serious consideration for FMs, not a gimmick.

The radical design supports a wide range of green technologies
The winning project, a waste management facility in Slough, has a laundry list of sustainability concerns – from overheating to poor air quality and flooding – perhaps to be expected from a 1980s block sandwiched between a motorway and a rubbish tip. As one of the judges on this challenge, I was blow away by what the winning team from Amey were able to achieve in their design. Just about every instance where you might expect a mechanical solution, it was augmented by a natural one: Green walls supplemented air conditioning, green roofs replaced solar shading, rain gardens replaced drainage pumps and even electricity was supplied from plants.

The real eye-opener from me was how seamlessly the design worked for the building, green elements and all. For a long time, green infrastructure has had a gimmicky reputation – a solitary green wall in a design, but the real heavy lifting is still to be done by mechanical services. But here, the approach is striking: Heating and cooling provided by green walls and roofs that reflect heat in summer and insulate it in winter. Solar panel outputs increased by 10% when paired with a green roof, which cools the panels and maintains their efficiency. Rain gardens used as living wind breaks that cut wind borne pollution and actively remove it from the atmosphere.

Green infrastructure produces greater gains when used
in concert with mechanical services
These are interesting developments for any built environment engineer, but for facilities managers they are a golden opportunity to upskill and corner a market. At the end of the day, after a project is finished and handed over it’s the FM who is going to be taking the plaudits and the flack from its performance for many years afterwards. With budgets stretched and targets ever-tighter, every little helps, and it’s exactly the sort of marginal gains provided by green infrastructure used in concert with mechanical infrastructure that will make the difference.

It’s not all about energy, either – Facilities Managers are also responsible for the day to day comfort and well being of a building’s occupants, and it’s here that green infrastructure’s strengths really start to show.

A lot of research is currently ongoing into the financial benefits of promoting well being in improving staff health, cutting absenteeism and increasing productivity, but the broad consensus is that an office full of staff with higher well being is better both financially and as a working environment than one which is less pleasant to work in.

It also benefits the workplace by increasing staff engagement with the process of sustainability. Sustainable policies work best when the building’s occupants comply, whether that’s through turning off lights, shutting down computers or closing doors. These rules can seem arbitrary when presented on their own, but green elements create a pleasant and very physical addition to an office environment that staff can interact with. Just being around plants can boost task performance by 15%, but by watering them, smelling them and interacting with them, staff can actually see the benefits of sustainable policies right in front of them.

Green infrastructure encourages interaction between occupants and services
By investigating the potential of green infrastructure in their own buildings, an FM can tackle several problems at once and add real value to their organization. Practically they can increase the effectiveness of their own building services by augmenting them with green infrastructure to lessen a rage of problems, from overheating to poor air quality. They can make a big impact on the company’s bottom line by boosting the well being of staff, and the can make their place of work a generally more pleasant place to be.

By being early adopters of this technology, FMs can corner the market as experts in green infrastructure – and stand to gain the most from its success.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Passing the torch

As the medallion is passed to new SLL President Richard Caple, he sets out his vision for the Society during his year in charge and sets his sights on an inspirational term for young lighters, as well as a return to the design-led roots of lighting  

Like most “lighters” I accidently got into the industry about 18 years ago. Having finished college, I
realised that I needed to get a ‘proper’ job, so having studied Design Technology and Graphic Design at A-Level I set about finding something that utilised the skills I had learnt. I applied for a job at Thorlux Lighting who were advertising for a Trainee Lighting Design Engineer.

Many courses are a route to lighting, including
graphic design and STEM subjects
At the time of course, I didn’t have a clue what one of these was, but the job description sounded quite interesting. To my surprise they offered me the job and, unbeknownst to me at the time, my lighting career had started. I went on my first lighting course in 2001 with the LIF (as it was named then) with Dr John Frost who on the first day was explaining trigonometry and Pythagoras and why they would be important over the next few days. Now, bearing in mind I hated maths at school, I did wonder what on earth I had done, but thankfully (and with the added incentive of keeping my new job) this time it made more sense!

I worked my way through all of the LIF courses, taking a particular interest in the photometry
and testing, something that would later define my role in Thorlux. I then completed the LET Diploma, the SLL Lighting Diploma, and finally culminating in my Lighting MSc at the Bartlett in 2012.

Today I still work for Thorlux and I’m lucky enough to be involved in a number of different areas of the business. My passion is not only to design high quality, energy efficient lighting solutions, but to educate, train and provide best practice guidance in our changing and fast moving market.

Looking back, in one sense you could say I was lucky that I had joined a company that was willing to invest in me and my education, but of course, all of this would have not been possible had these lighting qualifications not been available to me. I think that in the UK we should be proud that we have such a wealth of education and knowledge and I consider myself lucky that I have found, all be it accidentally, a job and industry that I am interested in and passionate about.

However, it seems a shame that I stumbled across this by accident. So the question has to be asked, why shouldn’t and doesn’t lighting be a more obvious career choice? As a key part of my year as President I wish to continue the work that Jeff has done by promoting lighting as a career and a profession. I therefore look to inspire through working with STEM, but also wish to engage with a slightly older age group, those in higher education as well as young engineers already in the building services industry. I also hope that over the course of the year we can publish a career pathway document to help those seeking or considering a career in lighting to see what options, routes and qualifications are available to them.

The SLL will continue to work with young lighters through events
like Ready Steady Light
Our industry has undergone radical change over the last decade, primarily driven by the LED revolution of course. I think it is recognised by most that the LED revolution is over, but I still think there is a legacy of misunderstanding when it comes to this technology, and greater clarity is needed from manufacturers and suppliers, as well as improved standardisation. I still feel there is a knowledge gap between end users and professionals. This is, of course, where the Society can and does help.

Our Technical and Publications Committee goes from strength to strength, and over the next 12-18 months there is a vast amount of new guidance to be published in the form of Fact Files, updates to existing Lighting Guides as well as completely new editions. The Code and Handbook will also be updated. As a young engineer the Code was something that was always on the end of my desk, and to a certain degree, still is today.

I do find it interesting just how technical and involved our industry has become, even during my short time. I also have concerns. If we compare a modern luminaire today with one of 10 years ago, the two are very different animals. They are different because not only do today’s luminaires provide light, they are also a platform for other embodied technology’s, such as Wi-Fi, Li-Fi, Bluetooth, and sensors which can monitor CO², temperature, humidity and so on.

New technology such as Li-Fi should not take the place of traditional
lighting design skills
While I am not suggesting this is necessarily a bad thing, I think crucially we must not forget that first and foremost, a luminaire is exactly that, a device to illuminate our space. While we must embrace new technologies and our ever greater connected world, we must never forget that quality lighting within space is fundamental to our health and wellbeing. I would hate to see good lighting take second place to a good internet connection!

I’m also concerned that far too much emphasis is placed on the energy saving potential of LED technology. While this is of course extremely important, not least from an environmental perspective, it is just one factor in the overall consideration. I see whole projects being based on energy, CO² and maintenance savings with not a single lighting calculation being made to check that the proposed replacement will meet the requirements of the space and its users.

Return on investment and paybacks seems to rule over all else. This is where the SLL provides a wealth of education and guidance on best practices, and we must continue to keep banging the drum on quality lighting. As Iain Macrae discusses in his recent Newsletter article, staff costs far outweigh any capital or maintenance costs for a building. If the new lighting is not fit for purpose and fails to meet the basics such as light levels, uniformity, colour performance, and compliance with glare and luminance, then the ‘investment’ may end up not being so wise.

No new lighting solutions are complete without quality research
and design behind them
While on the subject of wellbeing, Human Centric Lighting, or however you wish to term it, seems to be the current ‘in vogue’ topic. While it is generally acknowledged that changes in the colour and intensity of lighting can affect our mood, wellbeing, alertness and productivity, I feel it is still unclear as to how we actually apply this. Do the needs change if you are working in an office compared to a hospital? We can of course talk passionately on this subject, but at the end of the day much more independent research is needed, and importantly I think, we must never forget that there is no substitute for daylight. The SLL is working on a position paper around this topic, and I hope that over the course of the year it will be published.

Our industry faces a number of challenges in the future. Our Government has recently invoked Article 50 and started the count down to the UK leaving the EU. No one knows yet what this means for any of us, let alone the impact it may have on our industry, and for many who do business throughout Europe it will no doubt be an anxious time. From an industry perspective we need to make sure that our voice continues to be heard to ensure we are best placed to deal with whatever the outcome is. Through working with other organisations and bodies the SLL can play its part in helping. This is something that I am very mindful of as I go through my year, particularly as more information becomes available from Government, whatever Government that may be after June 8th.

The SLL is growing every year, we have well over 3,500 members worldwide and as a result we are doing more than we have ever done before. Events such as Ready Steady Light, the Masterclass series, Young lighter of the Year, industry trade shows, and many regional events name just some. The newest edition to the calendar is the Night of Heritage Light. The multi award winning event that took place originally in October 2015 was phenomenal, and although I only played a very small part, I was proud to be at the Ironbridge site and experience what took place.

Ironbridge Gorge illuminated on the Night of Heritage Light
©Terry Moore 2015
I think it was a great reflection on how passionate our industry is and how well we can all work together. The same was also true of Night of Heritage Light 2 which took place in October last year as a part of the illuminating York festival. Once again a huge amount of time and effort was given by our volunteers to deliver these amazing events. Both have raised the profile of not just the SLL, but our industry as a whole; we have captured imagination and helped inspire those normally outside of the industry to become involved. I am keen therefore to ensure we continue this momentum and I am working with Simon Fisher on some pretty exciting plans for Night of Heritage Light 3, which will take place later in the year, so do watch this space!

All these events would not be possible without the support of CIBSE and the hard work of the Balham staff, Brendan and Juliet in particular. So I would like to thank them for everything they do, and I very much look forward to working with them and the wider CIBSE team over the course of my year. My congratulations also to the new CIBSE President Peter Wong and President Elect Stephen Lisk, Stephen being a Past President of this Society of course.

I would also like to recognise the work that is undertaken by our Regional Lighting Representatives. Having been one myself for the best part of 10 years, I fully appreciate the work and effort that goes into running lighting events at local level. I hope that over the course of the year I will be able to visit some of our regions and also get involved in their events, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank all them for their hard work.

York's Multangular Tower illuminated during the Night of Heritage Light 2
©Lee Wright 2016
May I also thank Past President Jeff Shaw for very ably steering our ship over the last twelve months, and I look forward to continue working with Jeff. As mentioned in his Presidential address, 12 months is actually a very short amount of time to realise a vision, and I hope that I can carry on some of the things he has started. I also cannot do this alone, and look forward to continue working with President Elect Iain Carlile, and Vice Presidents Jim Shove, Bob Bohannon and Ruth Kelly-Waskett.

So in summary, my main aim for the year is to promote lighting both as a career and a profession. I hope that I can inspire more people to pursue lighting as a career choice. I think one of the great things about our industry is how diverse it is, from lighting designers to product designers, electrical and mechanical engineering, testing, research, the list goes on.  Our industry never stands still, there is never a dull moment (pardon the pun!). There are also many different levels you can join, and hopefully, as I have demonstrated, you can start at the bottom and work your way up.

There's never a dull moment when you're a lighter
©Kenton Simons 2015
Finally, I was asked recently what it meant to be a member of the SLL and why should someone become one? So the only way I could answer this is by saying what being an SLL member means to me. I said that the SLL is a professional body representing all interests in light and lighting. The SLL is one of the oldest professional lighting bodies with a worldwide reach and a growing membership. Between us all, we have thousands of years of combined lighting experience, be this in artificial light, or daylight.

The SLL offers me guidance and support through technical publications and events, and as my career progressed has offered me professional recognition for my efforts through their different membership grades. But more than anything the SLL is a home, a home for my interest and passion for lighting. As a social society I can discuss, engage and interact with other likeminded “lighters”. The SLL do some truly great things, and I’m sure there will be many more great things to come in the future. So, who wouldn’t want to be part of this?

Friday, 9 June 2017

A breath of fresh air

Build Studios recently hosted the 2017 Green Infrastructure Challenge awards, held by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the ARCC Network. Helen Santer, Executive Director of Build Studios, Londons first co-working space for the built environment sector in Waterloo - writes about the recent installation of a living wall to the work space, and the benefits she hopes it brings.

To coincide with the awards, we were delighted to see the installation of a Botanic ART living wall in our reception area, kindly provided by Biotecture. Build Studios is a work space that promotes collaboration across the different disciplines within the built environment sector and it has been fascinating to see the responses it has provoked from the different companies based in the building - from an interest in its air purifying qualities, to questions about its ability to absorb sound, to a simple appreciation of its aesthetic qualities and the colour and life it brings to the space.

The presence of the wall has provoked interest in green infrastructure
from the building's occupants
The wall has helped to highlight the growing area of research into the impact of indoor plants on air quality, as well as staff productivity and wellbeing. Featuring over 200 plants including climbing fig, green ferns and English ivy, the wall aims to reduce stress levels and mental fatigue as well as improve air quality by removing carbon dioxide, increasing oxygen and removing significant volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene and formaldehyde from the air. The Peace Lily plant which is also included has been identified by NASA as the plant most appropriate to be taken to the international space station due to its extraordinarily high tolerance for absorbing air pollution.

One of our members, Asset Mapping, is also monitoring the impact of the living wall on the air quality in the office, using sensors placed in the building and linked to their digital platform. It will be fascinating to see what impact it has on C02 levels in the space, especially given the proximity of Build Studios to a busy road. As Asset Mapping's CEO commented - 'Nature can help us just as much as tech in delivering a Smart Building'.

The living wall at Build Studios features over 200 plants
The wall will be in place until Friday 16th June at Build Studios. As building managers we're now grappling with how our members are reacting to the prospect of it no longer being in the space - now it's here, they're not sure they can bear to be without it. At the end of the day - regardless of the data we can generate and the scientific evidence of the impact of plants in workspaces - the most common reaction to greenery at work is a simple and emotional one. It makes people feel good. It makes it a little bit more appealing being in the office all day!

Friday, 26 May 2017

All at sea

As part of our series examining the extraordinary winners of the 2017 Building Performance Awards in February, CIBSE Technical Director Dr Hywel Davies revisits the Collaborative Working Partnership award - claimed by Hoare Lea for their work on RNLI Porthdinllaen in Wales - a challenging project in unforgiving conditions.

Better collaboration always results in better outcomes in a project, but sometimes it can mean the difference between success and failure: As Hoare Lea discovered in their project alongside contractor BAM Nuttall and the client Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) on the new lifeboat station at Porthdinllaen in Wales. This project won the Collaborative Working Partnership award at the 2017 CIBSE Building Performance Awards, and is an outstanding example of what can be achieved if all parties are committed to a truly open construction process.

The team — comprising RNLI, BAM Nuttall Ltd, Opus, Clive Moore Architecture, Royal Haskoning, Hoare Lea and the whole supply chain—demonstrated both commitment and agility to overcome significant challenges and create a design fit for an area of outstanding natural beauty, with minimal impact to the environment itself. The project also championed a high-level of engagement with the local community to enable visitors to come and continue to enjoy the peninsular, whilst work progressed on-site. Delivery of all primary material and plant was by sea, avoiding impact to the local villages and sustainability was always front of mind.

The site's challenging location meant that materials were delivered by sea
The project had little room for error in its requirements, fulfilling as it does a vital role in saving lives at sea in the area – on top of its responsibility to the environment in an area of natural beauty, and the inherent challenges in building a structure that must withstand extreme weather and a challenging construction site. Underpinning the whole project was the BIM model developed by BAM Nuttall, which drove the design and will remain in place post-delivery to guide maintenance for the life of the building with Hoare Lea’s continuing input.

Using the model required very open and responsive collaboration from all parties to react to issues during the build, and was facilitated using a cloud-based platform called The Box, an initiative by Royal Haskoning, enabling all project information to be stored in one place. Requests for information on this project were managed via the Box and parties could upload revised drawings, seek other disciplines drawings and specifications. When unexpected anomalies in the rock strata stalled construction of the foundations, it was this approach which allowed a quick re-design that was approved by all parties: A radical ‘V’ column arrangement that was still within budget.

This openness extended to ensuring that the building’s performance fell within the various requirements set by all parties, from Hoare Lea’s commitments to low energy in-use, to the RNLI’s requirements around cost and durability. Using this collaborative model, Hoare Lea were able to work with RNLI’s preferred suppliers Jupiter Heating to supply the underfloor heating and base flooring system. Following on from Hoare Lea’s heat loss calculations and outline scheme design, Jupiter provided system installation drawings particular to each project. 

Extreme weather and rock strata anomalies impeded work on the site 
The building’s heating requirements are supplied by an installed Ground Source Heat Pump, which was chosen with the lifetime performance of the building in mind. It also required the teams to work with the client and the occupants to balance efficiency with the comfort of the volunteer crew members who work in the building, which replaces an outdated and inefficient boathouse built in 1888. To achieve this, the heat pump provides underfloor heating to the living areas of the station that are regularly occupied, but not to the main operational areas such as the boat hall. This was singled out by users in particular, who found the new building “well insulated, warm, comfortable”.

The RNLI’s material requirements also necessitated extraordinary commitment and agility to overcome them – balancing Hoare Lea’s engineering input, with BAM Nuttall’s experience as a contractor and the strict durability and cost needs of the RNLI team. Given the harsh conditions in which the RNLI operate, materials had to be carefully selected to minimise lifetime maintenance and keep costs down – which required the design and installation of a series of specialised materials; including Siberian Larch with a vacuum pressure impregnated preservative, timber framing to increase thermal performance and copper cladding on the roof.

Specialised materials were chosen to minimise expensive maintenance 
These needs were constantly balanced against budgetary requirements, which was facilitated by a very open partnership that checked the pricing on the activity schedule against prices in the open market by the employer’s cost consultants – McNaughts. Instances where the budget was overtopped, stimulated intense efforts to value engineer solutions to meet the remit of all parties.

In this project, the RNLI team – highly successful, client-focused and design-led – was underpinned by Hoare Lea’s commitment to excellence and its passion for innovative, sustainable, low carbon design. By committing to an extremely open and collaborative model from the start of the project to past the point of delivery, the parties involved were able to overcome potentially serious problems and the Client’s aspirations were met from both an estates and operational perspective.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The art of engineering

Following his inaugural speech at the CIBSE AGM, held at the Royal Society of Engineering in London, new CIBSE President Peter Wong sets out the principles that will guide him through his presidential year, and the key priorities he has in his time as leader.

It is a real honour for me to be the first CIBSE President from the Hong Kong Branch.  And I am delighted that several members from Hong Kong have been able to join me here tonight.
As the new CIBSE President, I would like to take a few minutes to outline my vision for the Institution for the coming year.

I’d like to start by posing a question:  Is engineering art? Michelangelo's David manifests determination, beauty and potent strength.  It is also structurally sound and demonstrates perfect proportions.  We call it a piece of art.

Few would contend that Michelangelo's David is art  
Look at the Beijing National Stadium, built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and colloquially known as the Bird's Nest stadium.  A structure built for a purpose, a venue awaiting the display of sporting strength.  It is also structurally sound, with its famous commensurate loading curves.  If it is not an image of David manifesting determination and potent strength, what is?  But why don’t we call it art?

In CIBSE, we think it IS art.  In our Charter, we say ‘we exist to support the Science, Art and Practice of building services engineering’.

But surely, if we get the ‘science’ and ‘practice’ right – why does the art matter? If the problem is solved and the solution works, what does art have to do with it?  The answer is that the artistry brings our work innately alive and vibrant.

The Beijing National Stadium is both a building and a piece of sculpture
Well I’d also like to argue that for Chartered Engineers, ‘art’ is the most important word in that sentence. There are many building services engineering projects that could illustrate my point well. I shall first look at some winners of our CIBSE Building Performance Awards. The International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong is an impressive example.

The building has 2.5 million square feet of office and hotel space. It’s about 1,600 feet high, and divided over 118 floors – many thousands of people live, work and play there day-in and day-out.   I shall skip the scientific and practical skill it took to build the world’s seventh tallest building as that is obvious.  But day-in, day-out the building’s tenants are engaged in creating a sustainable environment. Food waste is collected, and condensation from the air handling units is used to flush the toilets.  From the design to its operation, the mission of the building services engineers involved was to create a living, breathing building that works alongside its occupants.

2015 Building Performance Award winner the ICC in Hong Kong
The other recent Award winner, the University of Bradford, is a double winner of the CIBSE Building Performance Champion Award.  The estate was mostly built in the 60s and early 70s and delivered sub-optimal performance for many years.  But, by tearing up the rule book on what we thought was appropriate with older buildings, the skills of the building services engineers delivered the only University campus in the world with three ‘BREEAM Outstanding’ buildings and a Passivhaus building within 100 metres of each other.

The completed project has rejuvenated the campus and the art of engineering is spread across the whole University. It is now not merely functional: it goes above and beyond, to help generations of young people flourish and develop in a positive learning environment for years to come.

Art is often about making a breakthrough, not merely a successful copy.  CIBSE members are ready and prepared to go beyond what we thought was possible.  Let’s look at another example.

The University of Bradford's Estates and Facilities team redefined what
we thought was possible with refurbishment
The Gardens by the Bay project in Singapore, which won a CIBSE Building Performance Award in 2014, demonstrates exceptionally what can be achieved by marrying science, practice and art:
The project is impressive scientifically because it has enormous sculptural towers called ‘supertrees’ which carry out functions from heat dissipation to power generation with their integrated systems. It is impressive practically because the botanical gardens re-create a Mediterranean springtime with mild, dry days and cool nights in a city that neighbours the Equator.  These two factors alone make it a remarkable project, but the hidden ‘art’ is that it uses no more power than an average Singaporean office block.  Yes, it was about building a city inside a city.

A technical marvel, Gardens by the Bay re-creates a Mediterranean climate
in a city on the equator 
The other example, on the other hand, is a city outside a city: The Dutch City of Amsterdam, where the municipal administration preserves the artistic ambience of the inner city while deploying a huge array of futuristic technologies for the benefit of its residents; including rainwater recycling, demand-responsive street lighting, and integration of transport and logistics management while keeping commuters living outside the city ring road.

In a way, the principles behind the Amsterdam Smart City are the same as the ones behind the Beijing stadium, but on a larger scale. They are both designed to create a high performing project that is at once a functional building, and a piece of sculpture.

Both the Bradford and Amsterdam projects show us that our existing building stock can be sustainable.  Both the ICC and Gardens by the Bay projects go well beyond statutory requirements.

Amsterdam's Smart City project aims to advance the city's services while
maintaining its historic centre
The reason we marvel at the art of Michelangelo’s statue, Picasso’s paintings and Mozart’s symphonies is because they are alive: each encounter to them it brings us fresh sensations and different meanings; they are still alive irrespective of their age.

The projects I have talked about – The International Commerce Centre, Gardens by the Bay, the University of Bradford’s estate and Amsterdam de-urbanization– are recognised examples of CIBSE members engineering skill.  Creating beautiful environments and experiences for the people who live, work, learn and play in them.  Every day millions of people benefit from CIBSE members’ commitment to professional standards and serving the public good.

In addition to the technical skills we have learned, all these examples demonstrate the ‘art’ of the building services engineering profession.  What marks these projects out as ‘extraordinary’ is not just the undoubtedly impressive engineering it took to create them, but the way that the core values of Engineers were upheld throughout – prestige, professionalism and public interest.

Hong Kong Harbour in the 1980s
Construction has transformed Hong Kong beyond recognition since I first started work there. It has become a beautiful urban jungle of towers, but not all changes have been good. The urban environment is less healthy, the air is still and humid.

If building services engineers were allowed to emulate these Award winning projects more often, then the skyline of Hong Kong would remain as beautiful as it is, but the health of the city would be much improved.

Hong Kong Harbour in 2017
Are Engineers artists? This question is a tough one.  Imagine me asking other people this question, what they would see is a dull and boring person. You will never get any answer except “why would you ever ask such a stupid question?’

Luckily you are not as dull and boring as I am. Seriously, the Art part lies within our practice - and fuelled by our core values and beliefs. We need to tell others we are artists, and explain why we call ourselves that, and now is the time to do so.

Picasso never hid that he was a Cubist, and Dali never hid that he was a surrealist.  Artists are proud of their movements, and believe that their principles can change the world – and we need to borrow some of that inspiration and apply it to our roles as Building Services Engineers.

Building services can be ornamental as
well as functional
We should tell others art can be more than ornamental, it can also be functional as well - in the form of a building and built environment.  The functional aspects often hidden away are actually the most creative work an engineer will do in their careers.

In my presidential year, it is my aim to celebrate and elevate the exceptional work that our members do to inspire.  That CIBSE promotes the art and science of building services: we are engineers; we talk about the science and we practice art.  The art of collaboration, intuition, invention and creative thinking to challenge and inspire the public and each other.

I am extremely proud to be a  CIBSE Fellow and Chartered Engineer. I think it is important that we understand the difference between being made a Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer and Engineering Technician, in the UK and the ‘registration’ process elsewhere.

In the UK CEng, IEng and EngTech are a status that the engineering profession is proud of, that the public respects, and that is valued in the industry, and registration implies acceptance of professional values. In many places elsewhere, registration is often just a licence to practice – the legal minimum required to be allowed to work as an engineer.

The UK system embraces a person who is ready to take on professional responsibility and the liability of malpractice.  It is personal.  It marks professionals out because of the quality we aspire to and the values of professionalism we commit to uphold; in addition to basic compliance, standards and safeguarding of the public interest.

A licence to practice often merely relies on successful attainment of some entry requirements.  One may argue that the license also penalises malpractice, but it’s only after malpractice has occurred that offenders are caught and punished.  Professionalism is about instilling values in an engineer that prevent them even thinking about malpractice in the first place.

As a Chartered Institution, CIBSE helps define and protect those values and principles of professionalism.

Chartership encourages engineers to go above and beyond the basic requirements
Membership is one of the key pillars of our 2020 CIBSE vision, because everything that CIBSE does for the industry, for the public, and for engineering at large, flows from the strength of our membership.  It is the members who are the experts that are delivering new knowledge, sharing guidance and introducing new expertise. It is the members who go out into the world and apply the knowledge that we publish, for the good of society.

More importantly, we are willing to share our knowledge and expertise world-wide. The Knowledge Portal is one of our best assets, because it allows anyone who has an interest in CIBSE anywhere in the world to benefit from and contribute to CIBSE’s wider Knowledge offering.  The language of engineering has no boundaries, and CIBSE takes pride in sharing and learning from others.  All the better if CIBSE could help those with less developed engineering sectors to springboard to the future of low carbon buildings in the years to come.

CIBSE has 21,000 members in 100 countries
But despite this, we shouldn’t be complacent. CIBSE and its members can’t know everything and be everywhere, and the best way to change that is to bring new members on board around the globe.  And with them, to bring in new knowledge about industries, technologies, regions and markets that can ensure that we offer the deepest and most diverse pool of knowledge.

Of course, we don’t just exist to distribute Guides. We exist to spread what we believe and say in our Charter, ‘we exist to support the Science, Art and Practice of building services engineering’.

My presidential pledge is to inspire the industry to embody the spirit and values of being a CIBSE member and to promote the positive message of the values we believe in, the professionalism we treasure and the aspiration of exchanging best practice among like-minded professionals worldwide.

But I can’t do this alone.

CIBSE now represent nearly 21,000 members bringing out the ART in building services engineering worldwide. I also have an eye on our Young Engineers Network around the world.  For one thing, they don’t look as dull and boring as I do. And they will be our ambassadors for many years to come.
Building Services Engineers are one of the most important professions for the future health of the planet, and the world is depending on what we do to ensure that we have healthy and productive places to live and work for generations.

Reach out.  It is a big world out there. Spread the CIBSE message.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Checks and balances

As part of our ongoing series on the future of heat in the UK, Phil Jones, Chair of the CIBSE CHP/District Heating Group, writes for us about the next step in deploying the Heat Networks Code of Practice and where it fits into the supply chain

Lack of take-up in the UK results in a lack of data,
creating a vicious circle of uncertainty 
When CP1: Heat Networks: Code of Practice for the UK, was launched in 2015 it sought to address a key problem that had been bogging down the technology ever since it was first introduced in the UK: lack of confidence. It is a fitting topic for the first ever Code of Practice that CIBSE has produced, because the technology is set to play a major part in the Government’s strategy to reduce the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels for heating, and this strategy depends on making heat networks more widely used.

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) have now begun the second stage of the process to improve the image of heat networks and to make it into a first-choice option for developers in suitable sites, by conducting a consultation on the Code’s checklists. It is hoped that these new tools will help everyone in the supply chain know and agree what is expected of them, and hold every stakeholder to account.

It is essential that stakeholders can check that CP1 has been met and the checklists are a key part in this process. Heat networks have suffered from low uptake in the past: A reputation for not delivering on the original promises made about their performance. This was due to failures across the supply chain, from designers recommending inappropriate projects to installers fitting them badly, and FMs failing to maintain them properly.

One only needs to look to Scandinavia to see that it doesn’t always have to be this way. Heat networks in Europe are a much more mature concern; Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Malmo in Sweden and Denmark’s capital Copenhagen use heat networks to supply close to 100% of their heating, while the UK languishes far behind with less than 2% supplied that way.

The Code of Practice was originally produced to counter these problems, providing minimum standards on the topic where nothing substantial existed before. As with any technology a lack of information leads to low adoption rates among sceptical clients, engineers are less inclined to become experts in an unpopular system, and so there are few experts to publish more information and few active examples of the technology to provide in-use data. Thus, the cycle begins again. The checklist is the business end of this process, actually holding stakeholders to account on their ability and willingness to follow the Code.

Heat Networks are much more mature in European cities such as Amsterdam
The checklists were drafted and trialed during the latter part of 2016, and their effectiveness is currently under scrutiny to ensure that they’ll do their jobs properly, but they won’t be able to do the job on their own – no matter how well they work. The checklist methodology also creates a useful evidence pack that runs throughout the stages of thee project from briefing right through to operation. This connects the supply chain and provides an audit trail of decisions.

The checklists are also underpinned by the developer setting performance targets at the initial briefing stage that can actually be used to measure a heat network’s anticipated performance at feasibility, design but then actual performance in-use. This combination of checking the code requirement have been met, an evidence pack has been produced and the original performance expectations have been met provides a new foundation for the sector.

Clearly, this starts with the clients/developers, as it is their responsibility to ensure that use of the Code and the assembly of an evidence pack is specified at the start of the project, but the support and advice of engineers is required to keep it on track. For it to be truly effective, the engineer needs to continuously measure against the original developer's targets and this approach strengthens the Evidence Pack. It is recommended that this whole process is monitored by employing a trained heat networks assessor to ensure compliance, highlight deficiencies but also to encourage a move beyond minimum standards in delivering the project.

The Code can only be truly effective if pro-active clients work to assemble
an evidence pack of information
Though the original publication of the Code was a big step back in 2015, it was really only the start of the process that will ultimately result in heat networks becoming a mainstream option. The need for a clear process to hold stakeholders to account has already been stated, but potentially more important is the will to drive the use and application of the Code from all sides involved in construction. Though it is the client’s job to ask for it and to monitor its implementation, all stakeholders need to be willing partners to make the process of following CP1 as smooth as possible.

Ultimately, the success or failure of CP1 checklist process will determine the future of heat networks in the UK. The potential is there to create sustainable, low carbon heat networks and a world leading specialism for UK engineers. But it requires the industry to grasp the nettle and embrace the Code, and cooperate with its minimum standards and checking processes.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Health warning

The impact of indoor air quality on the comfort and well-being of students is gaining increased attention. Dr Hywel Davies, CIBSE Technical Director, summarises some recent research on the subject and describes the latest guidance on new schools design

The need to maintain air quality in schools is a hot topic - literally. The Government is scheduled to publish a revised version of Building Bulletin 101: Guidelines on ventilation, thermal comfort and air quality in schools. The document provides guidance on the design and construction of school buildings in order to provide good indoor air quality and thermal conditions to create effective conditions for teaching and learning. 

A draft of the proposed amendments has already been published. They call for the designers of schools in areas of poor air quality or in low emission zones to give careful thought to keep internal pollution within acceptable levels. One way of achieving this is to design a building to be airtight and then use an appropriate air infiltration system to help remove the harmful particulates, such as from diesel vehicles, from the air supply. For filtration to be effective, without consuming excessive amounts of energy, the filters can be incorporated into a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery, although it is also important that they are readily accessible for cleaning and changing.

The Government is revising the guidance on school air quality to reflect
the increasing evidence of its importance
The 2017 publication will supersede the 2006 edition of BB101: Ventilation of School Buildings. The addition of the term “air quality” to the title reflects the increased importance to government and other organisations are now giving to maintaining good indoor air quality in schools.

One reason for the increased focus on air quality was the publication of the Royal College of Physicians’ report Every Breath we take: the life long impact of exposure to air pollution. This highlights the dangerous impact air pollution and poor indoor air quality is having on our nation’s health and in particular how exposure to air pollution may affect mental and physical development in children. The report explains that children living in highly polluted areas are four times more likely to have reduced lung function in adulthood, but improving air quality has been shown to halt and reverse the effect.

Improving indoor air quality in schools was a topic at the CIBSE Building Performance Conference. Speaking at the conference Prof. Dejan Mumovic, Deputy Director of the Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering at University College London, made reference to two recent research papers – one on the impact of carbon dioxide (and temperature) on student’s cognitive performance and the other on the economic benefit of the impact of reducing indoor exposure to nitrogen dioxide in children attending primary schools.

Children living in highly polluted areas are 4x more likely
to have reduced lung function as adults
Mumovic referenced a study undertaken in Saudi Arabia on classrooms with all female students aged 18-21. The research set out to understand the impact of indoor ambient temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration as an indicator of the effect of ventilation rates on student’s cognitive performance in educational buildings.

The study found that temperatures in Saudi classrooms are typically 20°C, with a high ventilation rate of 15 litres per second per person. These conditions were taken as the baseline for the study. Cognitive tests were then undertaken at classroom temperatures of 20°C, 23°C and 25° and with CO2 concentrations of 600 parts per million (ppm), 1000ppm and 1800ppm. 

When classroom conditions were at their most extreme, with a CO2 concentration of 1800ppm and temperature of 25°C, students took 72% longer to complete the cognitive tests and made 32% more errors. This demonstrates the importance of designing classrooms that can be kept at optimum temperatures for learning throughout the school year. 

Mumovic also referenced a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  This used  environmental and health data collected in primary schools to assess the potential economic benefit of reducing indoor exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in children in London. Nitrogen dioxide is a gas produced by road traffic and other fossil fuel combustion.  The study estimates that 82 asthma exacerbations per school could be averted annually by reducing outdoor NO2 concentrations. 

The study estimates that the monetary benefits of reducing children’s indoor NO2 exposure while at school could be as much as £60k per school from a parents’ perspective, using a willingness-to-pay approach.

82 asthma exacerbations per school could be averted annually by reducing
 outdoor NO2 concentrations.
According to Transport for London, there are 2270 schools within 400m of roads in London, so the number of primary schools likely to be affected is significant, as are the economic benefits of reducing NO2 levels, for example through road closures during school hours.

CIBSE has published TM57: Integrated school design to provide guidance on the environmental design of schools. The document is suitable for building services engineers and other members of the design team including: architects, contractors, client bodies and users, who have an influence on the design outcomes. It is available from

In producing this Technical Memorandum CIBSE’s aim has been to provide simple and clear guidance to help steer both the design team and school staff towards creating places where teachers and children can become inspired. A checklist of criteria on its own will not constitute successful design -  school designers must also make the effort to visit existing school buildings and to study exemplar cases to fully experience the results of the design process, both good and bad. The design of school buildings is an area where engineering input from experienced building services engineers can prove invaluable, and have a long lasting and significant impact on pupil health and performance. Time spent in design can certainly deliver a long term dividend that makes it a good investment.