Friday, 17 February 2017

Smart moves

Towards the end of 2016, the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) partnered with CIBSE and Scottish electrical trade body SELECT to produce a survey that assessed how much built environment professionals know about 'smart' technology. With the results in Steve Martin, ECA Head of Specialist Groups, goes over what we've learned

Just 20 per cent of the UK’s commercial buildings are considered to be ‘smart’ at present. It’s likely that as this vast market grows, many building clients, such as architects, consultants and facilities managers, may not be ready for this technological revolution.

With this in mind, the ECA, CIBSE and SELECT launched a ‘connected technology’ survey for clients last year, to help understand the current state of play.

Overall, there were 229 responses to the survey over a three-week period in November and December, including responses from consultants, engineers, end clients and facilities managers.

The survey show the UK lagging in knowledge of newer smart technology
Significantly, four in 10 clients said they were ‘not familiar’ with the term the ‘Internet of Things’, which has become widely used in the industry in recent years. This finding shows that there is much more to be done in terms of raising awareness of the technology and opportunities that exist to clients.

Broadly speaking, respondents said that buildings across a range of sectors, including residential, commercial, retail, and industrial, had at present adopted ‘a limited amount’ or ‘very little’ connected technology. Significantly, looking forward five years from now, over half of clients said that ‘a significant or overwhelming majority’ of buildings in the above sectors would have connected technology installed, highlighting the major opportunity that exists in the market right now.

In terms of the technologies themselves, ‘CCTV and security’ was highlighted as the technology most likely to be installed in buildings in five years’ time (78 per cent of respondents). Heating (74 per cent), fire systems (69 per cent) and ‘Building Energy Management Systems’ (67 per cent) also featured prominently on the list.

The main reason why clients said that they would be willing to install connected technology at present is to ‘improve energy efficiency and reduce energy bills’ (58 per cent said it was their top priority). However, with ‘CCTV and security’ the technology most likely to be installed over the next five years, there now appears to be a shift in attitudes towards prioritising safety and security.

In terms of the main barriers to installing connected technology in buildings, clients identified ‘the cost of installing it’ (82 per cent) as the main one, with ‘lack of clear advice / knowledge (55 per cent), and cyber security (49 per cent) also considered major factors.

Perhaps tellingly, almost four in 10 clients (39 per cent) said that they didn’t take any steps to protect smart installations against cyber threats. This is an area clients urgently need to address, especially when you consider the inherent risks in the modern day of not securing your business from hackers, and the anticipated growth in smart installations over the next five years.

Given recent technological advances, such as lighting controls and smart meters, there is actually a growing need for clients to take a proactive role in the design of their buildings and systems. This will allow them to have access to the data, and have the control they need, with an infrastructure to support it. Effectively, if clients have a comprehensive smart building solution designed and installed, this will allow for enhanced building monitoring and maintenance.

Alongside industry partners, including CIBSE and SELECT, the ECA will now be looking to establish how installers, engineers and clients can work together more effectively on developing the connected buildings of the present and future.



Friday, 10 February 2017

Top of the class

On the 7th of February, the CIBSE Building Performance Awards celebrated it's tenth anniversary at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London and announced it's 2017 winners in front of over 760 guests. PR and Communications Executive Matt Snowden presents a selection of the best pictures from the night

The annual Building Performance Awards rewards the projects, teams, products and organisations that truly excel and provide exceptional building performance in an industry focused on delivering value to clients. Focusing on real, measured performance rather than promises or plans, the Awards are a true mark of excellence in building and demonstrate a real commitment to improving well-being and sustainability in our industry.

Below is a selection of images from the night, and the winning projects behind the awards.


(Note: The slideshow is best viewed in full screen mode. To access full screen mode, click the arrows in the bottom right-hand corner. To view captions, click 'show info' in the top right-hand corner)

For more information on the 2017 winners please visit www.cibse.org/bpa

Friday, 3 February 2017

Technically speaking

The CIBSE Technical Symposium is always a tinderbox for the rest of the year, sparking discussion, debate and ideas that will set the agenda for the next twelve months and beyond. To get us in the mood, Technical Symposium Chair Prof. Tim Dwyer is here to give us a sneak preview of some of the highlights.

It’s a long and difficult process to go from the bare bones of an idea to a fully-fledged academic paper on a subject in building services, but it’s also where some of the biggest new ideas in the industry are born. After all of the hard work, this period is perhaps the most exciting: Where the work of the dedicated authors emerges in its final form at the CIBSE ASHRAE Technical Symposium.

The practitioners, researchers and academics have devoted many hours to their posters, case studies, technical notes and papers. Now the scientific committee, of over 70 willing and knowledgeable volunteers, is poring over the submissions, providing the essential appraisal and feedback to ensure that that the integrity of the Technical Symposium is upheld. The final programme of over 50 presentations is developed from the set of reviewed papers and will not be finalised for a few weeks, but to provide an impression of the shape, and diversity, of this year's Symposium here are some previews of what to expect.

All styles of project are welcome, from published academic research to
case studies and slideshow presentations
Melody Wang of Affiliated Engineers California, USA will examine the challenges of adapting systems design to meet the changing role of buildings. By considering the renovation of a university campus originally built in the 1950s and how the occupants requirements for 21st century thermal comfort and transformed expectations for the building use Melody will examine how can this can succeed with constraints of budget, space, building/system information whilst preserving the building's heritage. This case study will look at multiple campus renovation projects at the University of Florida that produced more resilient buildings for the future.

Tom Lawrence of the University of Georgia Atlanta, USA and ASHRAE distinguished lecturer, will consider how the advent of a smart grid opens the potential for smart buildings to participate in load management and demand response programs in collaboration with the electrical utility or grid system operator. He will illustrate how the interaction of smart buildings with a smart grid can affect both the occupants’ thermal comfort as well as the building’s energy consumption (and the corresponding environmental impacts). His paper includes a discussion of how 'model predictive based controllers' at the building level could serve as powerful tools to optimise the operation of smart buildings and improve human comfort perceptions while helping to better integrate renewable energy systems with increased grid stability.

Tom Lawrence will present on demand response programmes in his Symposium talk

Sophia Flucker of UK based Operational Intelligence Ltd  Will examine how the environmental impact of data centres can be minimised but looking beyond energy efficiency. By developing a lifecycle approach Sophia will explain that there are two other significant areas of impact - the embodied impact of materials and the grid power source. By focussing purely on energy efficiency, operators may cause a burden shift by taking action to reduce energy consumption whilst increasing the embodied impact and although there is limited data available research has identified which factors significantly impact a facility’s environmental impact. She promotes that this should be used not only in the design process but throughout the data centre lifecycle.

Abdullahi Ahmed of Coventry University UK will show how a EU funded project focussing on the refurbishment of existing public buildings aims to bring together design and decision making tools and innovative building fabric to achieve energy reduction in the region of 50%. Using Coventry University estates as a Living Lab case study and by selecting and testing advanced available technologies, as well as novel techniques developed in the EU project, he will explore the challenges and develop a methodology to successfully analyse, select and install the different technologies to overcome the challenges faced during the coordination of retrofitting activities.

Abdullahi Ahmed will focus on the potential of a
building's fabric to reduce its energy usage
Kevin Kelly of Dublin Institute of Technology Ireland will uncover a new interior lighting design methodology. Compared to the traditional methods that commonly consider the average illuminance on a working plane the proposed new lighting design system is designed for appearance rather than visual performance. It has been suggested that this could offer the prospect of a quantum leap in lighting quality and Kevin will explain that the new metric of 'mean room surface exitance' will provide a route to discover whether this is truly a better way of designing lighting. He will candidly explore some of the challenges remaining before these new methods can be fully adopted.

The registration fees for the two day event have been kept low to encourage the widest participation. Delegates will receive access to all papers, access to all sessions across two days, lunches, refreshments, the awards cocktail reception, and the evening ’networking’ buffet dinner on the evening of the first day. It's all hosted at Loughborough University - but be sure to book now to avoid disappointment!


Tickets to the 2017 CIBSE ASHRAE Technical Symposium start from £85+VAT, to find out more and book your place visit www.cibse.org/technical-symposium-2017

Friday, 27 January 2017

Inspired thinking

In this month's #Build2Perform podcast, CIBSE PR and Communications Executive Matt Snowden spoke to Ant Wilson, Director of Building Engineering at AECOM, about his career, inspirations, and his opinions on some pressing issues in building services.

Opening up the paper to check the New Year Honours list isn't something that the majority of us will ever have to concern ourselves with, but it recently became a reality for AECOM Director of Building and CIBSE veteran Ant Wilson MBE. Ant will be familiar to many at the Institution, being part of CIBSE life for most of the last 40 years and lending his expertise to countless committees, groups, societies and technical projects.

A silver medal winner and Fellow of the institution, rarely has the citation in an award for 'services to Engineering' been so apt, as Ant has lent his time to a huge variety of areas across the industry - from young engineers and BIM, to lighting and facades. I sat down with him on one of this many visits to Balham, to have a chat about his recent honour, and to get his views on his last 40 years in building services.


About Ant Wilson MBE FREng CEng FCIBSE FEI FSFE
Ant Wilson is a well-known and respected figure in the building services industry who has been involved in a wide range of CIBSE activities, including building modelling, façade engineering, lighting, carbon reduction and energy certification. He has been an advisor to government on building regulations for many years, and was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2015.

His outstanding work in the wider industry has been reflected in his extensive work for CIBSE. As well as being a CIBSE Council member from 2003-2009, he also served on the CIBSE Carbon Task Force, was a founding member of the Society of Façade Engineering committee, is a Fellow of the Society of Light and Lighting and currently serves on the CIBSE Certification Advisory Group and on the CIBSE Knowledge Programme Sub Committee.

Other accolades include the ACE Engineering Ambassadors award and the Institute of Mechanical Engineers award for promotion of construction and building services. He has also served his local church in Dunstable for over thirty years.

Friday, 20 January 2017

CIBSE Year in Pictures

It's a new year and a new start, but let's not forget all that came before in 2016! PR and Communications Executive Matt Snowden presents a picture gallery of some of 2016's best moments from head office, the regions, the groups and societies and beyond!

It's been quite a year here at CIBSE, with enough launches, awards, events and milestones to fill a decade. CIBSE has a dedicated network of members, volunteers and staff all around the globe who are striving to spread the art and science of building services engineering, and to make the industry and the planet a better place as a whole. Below is a slideshow of snaps to show just some of the things you got up to over the last 12 months.


(Note: The slideshow is best viewed in full screen mode. To access full screen mode, click the arrows in the bottom right-hand corner. To view captions, click 'show info' in the top right-hand corner)

Friday, 13 January 2017

Northern lights

The 2016 awards season has come and gone, and the year's achievements have been well and truly celebrated. But this year saw the launch of a ceremony with a difference. Simon Owen, Director at Calibre Search and Chair of the CIBSE Yorkshire Region, looks back at the first services awards outside London.

On the 18th November I nervously welcomed over 300 guests to the Royal Armouries in Leeds. A marked departure from their traditional annual dinner, the Yorkshire Region Awards 2016 (CYAs) were a first for a CIBSE region, the organising committee and the only services specific awards outside London. I need not have been too concerned, because behind me were a small army from a range of sponsors and entrants plus industry recognised speakers and a small group of volunteers who ensured the events success.

The CIBSE Yorkshire Awards are not mine, theirs or CIBSE’s: we wanted to create an opportunity for the Yorkshire Building Services family to gain recognition for their achievements to enable professional and commercial benefit for themselves and the whole industry; we have merely facilitated, and that opportunity was certainly taken.
The CIBSE Yorkshire Awards are about more than just the trophies
Certainly, trophies were given: to those with the highest CPD hours as well as the more traditional “X of the Year” awards for Project, Small and Large Consultancy in addition to categories for Students, Manufacturers and Facilities Management teams. But it wasn’t just an evening for back-slapping and handing out prizes – we also wanted those who attended to come away with some genuinely new and inspiring ideas that they could then share throughout their businesses and networks in Yorkshire and beyond.

Addressing the audience, Chris Gorse from Leeds Sustainability Institute discussed climate change and the role of building services engineers in educating clients and creating solutions. As well as quoting Spiderman (“with great power, comes even great responsibility”), he issued this call to action:

“As services engineers, the most powerful Environmental Engineers in construction, we have to innovate to help sustain the things we have grown to love.”

Chris Gorse from Leeds Sustainability Institute
There were a lot of exciting, innovative and interesting projects on show. While Adam Smith from The Real Junk Food Project, (TRJFP) had to withdraw from speaking, their work is deep, green thinking. By intercepting food surplus and distributing it on a Pay as You Feel basis, TRJFP has created training opportunities, enhanced feelings of self worth and reconnected people with their senses around food and social value. Using the example that of a 40% waste allowance when externally insulating a house, there must be scope for a similar scheme in construction.

This, and other projects exhibited on the night, are a perfect example of what the Awards were about. We’re not here to pontificate, and tell the industry what they should be doing in building. We’re here to show by example what is possible, and demonstrate the enormous benefits that innovating along similar lines can bring. To inspire, rather than insist.

In a similar vein, we were joined by three great speakers who certainly inspired. The first was Peter Hansford, former Chief Construction Adviser, who gave a brief overview of the industry; the innovation, the world class expertise and the ability of UK companies to compete on the world wide stage. Peter also discussed the looming skills shortage affecting not just construction, but all industries, and so the need for construction to compete for the talent it needs to ensure its future success.

This led on to Helen Vardy of King Ecgbert School in Sheffield, whose pupils won the Class of Your Own (COYO) design competition to design a school for the Parabongo region of Uganda. She told the audience what COYO brought to her students and how it gave them an insight in to all aspects of building engineering as well as the chance to use the same tools that the industry does, in the same way.

To prove this Alison Watson from COYO launched her #BuildParabongo crowd funding campaign to take the King Ecgbert team’s design, which has since had detail design input from Arup and BAM providing costing information, and turn it in to a real, live school for the community.
The University of Bradford team with their award
In another departure from tradition, as well as raising funds at the Awards, guests also donated time and skills to The Real Junk Food Project and COYO by making pledges. This was inspired by Adam Smith’s Pay as You Feel model which demonstrates that everyone has something to offer beyond currency.

Peter Hansford summed up the night itself and its goal of creating a forward thinking legacy:

"The CIBSE Yorkshire Awards was a great success.  My congratulations to all the award winners.  I hope that many of your members take up the call to help inspire the next generation into construction, by supporting Class of Your Own and its #BuildParabongo appeal."

Given the format of the evening, the financial donations coupled with the pledges made to give time and skills to the Real Junk Food Project and COYO as well as the Awards themselves, there is a good chance that hope will be fulfilled. We're already getting the 2017 edition in the calendar, so if this sounds like something you'd like to be part of - visit the website.

Friday, 6 January 2017

A chill in the air

With a United Nations agreement promising to slash the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in refrigeration and air conditioning systems by 85% by the 2040s, we have been covering the race to find a suitable replacement. This week, Simon Lamberton-Pine, Managing Director of DPAC UK, makes the case for a different kind of chiller...


'Absorption is the process in which a fluid is dissolved by a liquid or a solid (absorbent). Adsorption is the process in which atoms, ions or molecules from a substance (it could be gas, liquid or dissolved solid) adhere to a surface of the adsorbent. Adsorption is a surface-based process where a film of adsorbate is created on the surface while absorption involves the entire volume of the absorbing substance.' "Absorption vs Adsorption." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 29 Dec 2016

Ok, so now the technical explanation is done, lets move on to why you should be considering the use of ADSORPTION, which is the main reason for writing this feature! But before that perhaps it would be better to look at the features, potential uses, and applications of the technology.

Adsorption causes molecules to adhere to a surface rather than add to
its mass, as in absorption
As a result of the recent HFC Phase out programme, there is heightened interest in environmentally friendly and sustainable alternatives to traditional chillers for cooling use in commercial and industrial applications. Most of these are already well known (absorption, CO2, propane, ammonia – among others) however probably the least well known is adsorption.

Adsorption equipment is only currently available from a handful of manufacturers, and therefore their individual product designs vary, however their principle of operation is the same. Adsorption chillers are ideal when used 24/7,  operate at high efficiency – even with variable loads, and also produce chilled water rapidly from start-up.

Chillers, which often have 25yr lives, will
be most affected by the new rules
An Adsorption chiller is a highly reliable, virtually zero maintenance, efficient solution that uses waste heat i.e. from CHP or Solar to produce chilled water, which can then be used for air conditioning cooling or connected for refrigeration applications. Adsorption technology produces chilled water down to as low as 3º C which is ideal for any application with a high cooling demand such as Commercial offices, Process cooling, Supermarkets, and Data centres.

The chillers can be used in applications where there is a waste heat source, i.e heat recovery off a process, Biomass Boilers, Solar Panels, District Heating or via a CHP process. These highly efficient chillers provide great cooling capabilities and uses water as its cooling agent, so it’s highly environmentally friendly.


With water as the refrigerant, any piping or valve installation can be undertaken easily as there are no hazardous substances such as lithium bromide or ammonia. The chillers have long life expectancies of 20-30 years and end of life disposal is easy as the chillers have no hazardous refrigerants to dispose of.

For more information on the above, watch these videos by SorTech AG on the Technology and Applications of adsorption chillers.

Adsorption chillers can cool buildings using their own waste heat, which
is idea for use in data centres
Primary advantages
  • Adsorption chillers can deliver a substantial reduction in both primary energy consumption and carbon emissions.
  • Adsorption chillers can operate efficiently with a lower heat source thereby delivering cooling solutions to a wide range of applications.
  • Maintenance is kept to a minimum because the Adsorption chillers use such a simple process; the downtime is minimal with no potential crystallization issues associated with Absorption
  • Long life cycle 20- 30 years of operation.
  • Adsorption chillers can be utilized with dry coolers available in micro channel design from DPAC
  • The are no hazardous substances within the chiller (i.e. HFC’s, lithium bromide or ammonia); it uses silica gel (a natural substance) and water as a refrigerant. Therefore, the whole process is highly environmentally friendly - right through to end of life disposal
  • Additionally, our Sortech models are available in a variety of smaller capacities from just 10Kw, which can easily be connected. By coupling individual modules, projects can be applied up to a nominal capacity of 310 kW
  • The cooling water evaporates in a vacuum and thereby extracts heat from its surroundings (evaporating-energy). Through this process, cooling takes place. There are no high voltage motors or large compressors and no special external temperature controls are required for capacity control or to protect the chiller
Adsorption chillers keep maintenance costs down by reducing the amount
of equipment required
UK based M&E Consultants, Contractors and FM Businesses should now be considering adsorption equipment as an alternative (particularly if they know of a project with waste heat availability) and in most cases, they are far more cost effective, being more efficient and with substantially lower running costs. Obviously, there are pros and cons to all types of cooling equipment and in particular to adsorption equipment, but one of the biggest pros is that adsorption equipment is available through the Government backed grant scheme, however there are some criteria that must be met before being considered. 

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a UK Government scheme set up to encourage uptake of renewable heat technologies amongst householders, communities, and businesses through financial incentives. It is the first of its kind in the world and the UK Government expects the RHI to contribute towards the 2020 ambition of 12% of heating coming from renewable sources. The Renewable Heat Incentive has two schemes - Domestic and Non-Domestic. They have separate tariffs, joining conditions, rules, and application processes. 

The Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is open to industrial, commercial, public sector and non-profit organisations with eligible installations in Great Britain. This includes small Businesses, Hospitals, Schools as well as district heating schemes where one installation serves multiple homes. To qualify for the non-domestic or commercial RHI grant the installation must supply renewable heat to an eligible load and be supplied by an eligible source.

Adsorption chillers work with renewable heat sources, such as
 water source heat pumps, so are eligible for grants
The RHI will support heat where that heat is used in a building for ‘eligible purposes’, for example, heating a space, heating water or for carrying out a process where the heat is used and the heat must be transmitted by water or steam. For a building to qualify for space heating it must be totally enclosed and considered permanent.

Process heating can be: the use of heat to carry out a specific process such as industrial cooking, drying (including drying of wood and other biomass fuels), pasteurization or chemicals manufacture. Other examples include heat that is used for cooling, e.g. passing renewable heat through absorption chillers. Eligible sources of renewable heat are, the air for air to water heat pumps and water, ground or recovered heat for ground source installations. Recovered heat must not exceed 2/5 the of the entire heat production.

For adsorption equipment, the important section for the RHI grant is the lower temperatures of adsorption machines working down to 50 degrees in association with Ground Source Heat Pumps and are therefore entirely suitable for RHI grants.

The renewable heat incentive is paid quarterly based on the measured amount of heat produced in the installation. Ground and water source installations attract a two-tier grant payment in the form of £0.0895 per Kw hour thermal for the first 1314 run hours per annum and £0.0267 for the remainder of the eligible heat production per annum. Air source installations attract a flat rate of £0.0257 Kw hour thermal per annum. The tariff levels increase each year currently matching the RPI inflationary index.