CIBSE Conference and Exhibition 2015

In just its second year, the CIBSE Conference and Exhibition has gone from strength to strength in 2015, with 50% more attendees and more exhibitors than last year, and a lively Twitter following making it CIBSE's biggest ever social media event.

If you weren't able to attend, or if you just want a bite-size run-down of the two day event, we've prepared a run-down below!

Day 1

Lord Deben addresses the Conference
The foggy start to the day set an appropriately mysterious mood for a first session devoted to security - but some pretty strong conclusions from the outset made it considerably less murky by the end!

First up, the Conference was honoured to welcome the Rt. Hon. Lord Deben as the first day's keynote speaker. Sounding a note of optimism, Lord Deben reminded engineers that they have the ability to make a real difference to carbon emissions, as buildings are the largest source of emissions in the UK. However, this will require them to set an example in the way their own businesses are run - focussing on small achievements that add up, rather than large signature projects with smaller impacts.

The key findings from the sessions focussed on treating security as a people problem as well as a technology problem; businesses in future need to think hard about who is given information about a building via systems like BIM, how much ancillary information contractors might have that could one day be exploited, and how easy it is to access detailed BIM information that could make a building vulnerable.

Ian Ellis of Seimens stressed that ever more complicated systems accessible from anywhere in the world are making buildings increasingly vulnerable to ‘bored student’ hackers, who take advantage of security lapses to infiltrate a BMS system. While this may only mean turning off lights and raising temperatures, this could be dangerous for controlled environments who must maintain constant conditions.

A murky morning in central London

Conversely, Andrew Sieradski , head of security at Buro Happold, cited the huge potential of technology such as BIM to optimise building performance through security. By inputting information about equipment into a data management system, computers can automatically identify the best camera resolution, the amount of necessary data storage and the optimum temperature at which to cool it. This provides savings in time for the designer, and ensures the system will perform better throughout its life.

However, all speakers were agreed that security must be a primary consideration for designers. Ian Ellis of Siemens said: “People know the potential risk associated with security, what is necessary is to make security a priority that is introduced into the design as early as possible.”

BIM was also a theme later in the day, when it was discussed in the session ‘Using BIM in Building Operations’. CIBSE’s BIM Task Group is still active in supporting the introduction of BIM Level 2 in April 2016, but this session invited a fresh perspective from Warwick Stannus, of the Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors Association of Australia.

David Fisk addresses the security session
The emphasis in this session was on the people, rather than the technology behind BIM. It began with a talk from Hugh Boyes, associate fellow of the Cyber Security Centre at the University of Warwick, who advised that securing BIM is down to people and processes as much as technology. Making sure that only those who need to know have access to all the sensitive data is a must, as are the processes for securing that data and revoking access after construction is complete.

Similarly, Warwick Stannus advised a focus on process from his Australian perspective. Part of Australia’s impressive progress on closing the ‘performance gap’ is down to collecting and presenting useful data from systems like BIM so it can be used to optimise building performance. His key advice from the day was that only by efficiently collecting, storing and delivering building and facilities management data to the right people can we make performance gains.

The afternoon sessions were begun by the Lighting, Wellbeing and Comfort in Buildings presentation, which featured talks on air flow in buildings by Dr Cath Noakes, and Climate Based Daylight Modelling by Dr Paul Littlefair. This was followed by the presentation of research by Public Health England into the effects of LED lights on human health- finding that domestic lights perform the best on colour temperature and flicker, but that street lights perform the worst.

Day 2

Day two began with a hotly anticipated look at how the UK's building services industry will have to adapt to climate change. This topic, which is only becoming more relevant, was also a perfect example of collaboration improving the industry - as the first speaker was not an engineer, but a psychologist...

Rhiannon Cocoran, Professor of Psychology at the University of Liverpool, spoke about how buildings can be adapted to encourage occupants to act in a more ecologically sound way, and the influence of human preference for immediate rather than long term gain on how they behave in buildings. When we are in pleasant environments we are more likely to perform socially beneficial tasks like recycling, community action and sustainable actions than if we live in unpleasant environments.

This talk formed part of a session on how the UK building stock can be adapted to climate change, with Ann Marie Aguilar, of Arup, who focussed on meeting the increasing needs of older people and the disabled by considering how they actually use buildings and making small changes that enhance their wellbeing and quality of life.

Alexi Marmot of Alexi Marmot Associates encouraged different thinking about our working environments, noting the direct link between our satisfaction with our work environment and our jobs. She also highlighted how occupant behaviour drives building management, citing the demand for air conditioning, regardless of its actual effectiveness. She also argued that we only use a small percentage of total office space productively, but re-designing the working week around usage patterns is often too psychologically difficult to achieve.

Dr. Hywel Davies updates us on Part L
The session on changes to UK and EU legislation relating to buildings featured talks on Building Regulations in the UK and likely changes to Part L in England and the requirements of the F-Gas Directive, presented by Mike Nankivell of the Air Conditioning and Refrigerant Training Board (ACRIB). Nina Reid, Director of Responsible Property investment at M&G Real Estate outlined the forthcoming legislation on minimum energy efficiency standards, and Tahsina Khan of the Industrial and Commercial Boilers Association reviewed the Energy Related Products Framework and its implementing measures, noting that energy efficiency standards and labelling for smart building systems were currently being studied by the European Commission.

The afternoon sessions featured presentations of recent Innovate UK funded research. There was lively debate between the audience and those speaking on the evaluation of building performance. Matt Colmer of Innovate UK asked the key question “why don’t buildings perform in real life as they do on paper?” From a client perspective users do not always use the building’s systems as the designer intended, and empathy between designer and end user is a good way to boost building performance. Other speakers outlined the challenges facing designers in trying to meet this challenge, and achieve designs which meet the design energy performance expectations. Summing up the mood of the session, Eimear Moloney of Hoare Lea said that she would rather fail at designing a sustainable building than knowingly get away with designing an unsustainable one.

The Conference closed with a session on innovation and collaboration in building performance, echoing Nick Mead’s Presidential theme of collaboration. Among the ideas on show were an ‘impossible house’ that generates more electricity than it uses and costs £125k, the connected city of Bristol as visited by the President of Singapore, and a power generating tree. 


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