Friday, 22 August 2014

What it means to win a CIBSE Building Performance Award

Written by Munish Datta, Head of Facilities Management and Plan A at Marks & Spencer and  Judge of the Building Performance Awards 2015.

When I reflect back on the night Marks & Spencer Cheshire Oaks was announced as a winner at the 2014 awards, I am overcome by a great sense of pride, elation and gratitude. Proud that the project topped such a high calibre shortlist, overjoyed that our efforts were recognised and grateful for this very meaningful honour.

For us, this accolade is significant as it recognised the building’s actual operational performance, and in doing so the very reason why we built it in the way we did. Two years since Cheshire Oaks opened to the public, it continues to exceed our expectations in terms of environmental performance, users continue to express high levels of satisfaction and it has become an iconic benchmark against which we measure our global property estate. It has inspired us to try and replicate its success in our existing and new properties, from Heswall to Hyderabad.

The legacy of Cheshire Oaks lives on in our teams as we look to extend Plan A further to new levels, in new areas, across the M&S global property estate. We are retrofitting its most successful features into our existing buildings and deploying post occupancy evaluations in new buildings. We are striving to achieve a better balance of effort in the design, construction and operation of our buildings. This is a challenge not just for us, it’s one of the biggest for the building industry and one that the CIBSE building performance awards are helping raise awareness about.

The success of Cheshire Oaks is a great compliment to its design, construction and maintenance teams and their investment in leaving a legacy that goes beyond their responsibility, bringing comfort and efficiency to users for the buildings entire life. This ‘operational use legacy’ is exactly the kind of thinking that, as a judge, I will be looking for from entries in the 2015 awards. For me, winning buildings will live up to leaving a legacy of operational excellence and not failed design and construction promises. 

Want to comment? Contact @MunishDatta on twitter to continue the conversation. 

For more information about the Building Performance Awards 2015 visit

Friday, 15 August 2014

Lighting the way to building performance

Written by Liz Peck MSc FSLL, Design Principal at LPA Lighting, President Elect Society of Light & Lighting and Judge of the Building Performance Awards 2015

Any lighting geek - for I am one - will tell you that lighting is the single most important component of building services.  I know there are those who will argue for HVAC and others but honestly, I've got jumpers for winter months and in my office, I've got open windows delivering fresh air and - even more importantly - a bucket-load of daylight; for I am also a daylight freak and I countenance people having daylight breaks during their working day; daylight is good for you and that's official. 

Sainsbury’s Project Graphite, LED lighting programme.
Joint winner of the Lighting for Building Performance Award 2015
Even putting to one side the benefits to well-being, daylight is also a driver in energy-efficient lighting; I don't remember the last time a light was on in my office but it would have been before the clocks changed in March.  Harvesting daylight and controlling the lighting accordingly means the bare minimum of artificial energy is used for lighting and it's not rocket science in terms of controls either: simple but effective lighting controls means the old adage of lights only being on when they are needed actually rings true, whether daylight- or occupancy-based control.

For the first time, lighting is being recognised as a stand-alone award in the annual CIBSE Building Performance Awards.  With lighting playing such a dominant role in electricity costs of commercial buildings - up to 40% - the time has rightly come to reward schemes focused on lighting alone - and bringing opportunity for recognition to lighting designers and other companies who are delivering lighting schemes. 

Cundall Birmingham - Cundall Light4,
 Joint winner of the Lighting for Building Performance Award 2015
I read once that employing a specialist lighting designer will typically result in 30% less energy being used on the project - and who am I to argue with such a great statistic?  It's not just about energy, of course, occupant feedback and quality of the design will be considered, most likely above everything else. But as all those same lighting geeks will tell you, quality design and energy efficiency are not mutually exclusive, by definition, great design will be efficient.

For more information about the Lighting for Building Performance Award visit