Friday, 26 June 2015

The Young Engineers Awards, two years on

Graduate of the Year 2013 William Holley

We're just over a month from the closing date of  the 2015 Young Engineers Awards, which recognise the best of the next generation of building services engineers. To mark the occasion, we spoke to William Holley, Graduate Engineer and winner of the 2013 CIBSE ASHRAE Graduate of the Year Award.

Hi William. So, give us a brief idea of your role at Buro Happold.
Graduate Building Services Engineer at BuroHappold based in the Bath Office.  I am currently working on projects in the Sports, Education and Residential Sector.

In 2013 you won the CIBSE ASHRAE Graduate of the Year Award, what did winning this accolade mean to you?
It was a fantastic honour as everyone on the short-list are extremely talented engineers. It has given me great confidence in progressing in the industry and to be an ambassador for building services

And what projects have you been working on during the last 12 months?
I have been working on a great variety of projects including the Olympic Stadium Transformation, Chippenham College Redevelopment, The Louvre Abu Dhabi and Carlyon Bay

How has winning the award benefited you?
Winning Graduate of the Year has created a huge number of opportunities such as attending the ASHRAE Winter Conference 2013 in New York.

If you had the power to change one thing in the building services industry, what would it be?
For Building Services Engineers to have a more prominent input from the outset of the design process.  I believe this will help us work more effectively with architects and the client to create a more holistic design.

What do you see as the main challenge for the industry over the next 12 months?
Ensuring that technology and BIM doesn’t take over the role of the Building Services Engineer and that good engineering principles stay at the forefront of good design

What is your favourite building project, and why?
The Punta Della Dogana in Venice by Tadao Ando.  It is a beautiful restoration project and a fantastic gallery space

Who or what has inspired you most in the building services industry?
Attending and meeting all the talented engineers at the ASHRAE Winter Conference 2013 in New York was incredibly inspiring.  The enthusiasm and sheer number of building services engineers made me feel part of a global community.

What do you see as CIBSE’s role in the building services industry?
Providing support for Building Services students and professionals to ensure we stay at the forefront and push the boundaries of the industry

William Holley collects the Graduate of the Year 2013 award

What couldn’t you live without in your daily life?
My daily commute of walking along the river in Bath

What is your guilty pleasure?
Great British Bake Off

What did you want be when you were 10 years old?
From a young age, I wanted to become an architect.  This led me to study Architecture and Environmental Design at the University of Nottingham.    

What has been one of the highlights of your career?
Designing and building a nursery school in rural South Africa with the University of Nottingham which was a fantastic experience.

If you could choose any actor to play you in the film about your life, who would you choose and why?
Morgan Freeman because of the uncanny resemblance.

What is your most useless talent?

To enter the Young Engineers Awards or find out more information, visit the site.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Facilities managers and the performance gap

With squeezed budgets and ever more ambitious targets, facilities managers are increasingly finding that they have to do more with less. Following his speech at The Facilities Show this week, CIBSE FM Group chair Geoff Prudence expands on how facilities managers can step up to address the gap between a building’s designed performance, and its actual performance once built.

Sometimes, the job of a facilities manager is an overwhelming task. They’re the ultimate guardian of their company’s building, and they’re the ones who have to protect the company from loss and litigation on a day-to-day basis. While there is a lot the facilities manager can do to optimise the building’s performance, from implementing defined maintenance strategies to using proper commissioning codes, often a lot of the factors that make their building perform poorly are related to its design.

Geoff Prudence addresses a seminar at the Facilities Show
And it’s not a minor problem; the energy consumption of commercial buildings is estimated to be between 15 and 30 per cent higher than was anticipated at the design stage. It is unlikely that such a discrepancy would be tolerated in any other industry, yet it is a reality that facilities managers have to live with. There is a tendency for those involved in the construction of the building to think of the project as ‘complete’ when it is built and handed over, but for the FM it is only the beginning of a project that will last for the life of the structure.

There are several reasons that a building may not perform as expected. The so-called ‘performance gap’ is a complicated area with no standard definition, and no agreed upon way to measure it. With no clear model to define it, it is impossible to accurately predict performance and to give the various parties involved in the construction objectives to meet. As a result of this, designs often change during the planning and building stage which can have huge impacts on the building’s performance. A material added to increase performance may be swapped out for a less efficient cost equivalent, which may make sense from a budgetary point of view, but is a disaster for future performance.

So what can FMs do to change this status quo? Simply put, they need to step up and own the building performance cause throughout the life of the building – from the drawing board onwards. The crucial ingredient missing from the construction process is a common thread running from start to finish that champions the building’s performance. As the ones who have to deal with the poor performance once the building is handed over, facilities managers make the perfect candidates.

A packed audience at the Facilities Show seminar on CIBSE Guide M

Using models and technology such as BIM, FMs can inform their construction partners of the design’s performance requirements backed with actual data. They can know the design and performance enhancing systems inside out, allowing them to consult on changes and ensure that new elements don’t compromise the performance vision. They can collect and maintain the data on a building so that its performance can be measured over its whole lifetime, not just from the last FM or even from the completion date. CIBSE Guide M provides a great background to implementing and managing this in practice. The FMs understand the realities of running a building, and that input is invaluable when it comes to designing a space that it’s easy to get the best out of.

It still astounds me whenever I speak to a company where FM expertise had no input at all into the building’s Design when it was being built or there is not defined maintenance strategy in place. Until practices like this change, facilities managers will be doomed to wrestle with the inherent problems of buildings and take the flak for performance issues completely beyond their control. The key is to get involved from the beginning and become the driving force for performance, not try to pick up the pieces after the damage is already done. 

Friday, 12 June 2015

2016 Building Performance Awards ring the changes

The Building Performance Awards have undergone a major shakeup for 2016, with the addition of new categories to the line-up. We explain the reasoning behind the introduction of the new awards.

Following the launch of another Building Performance Awards, change is in the air for 2016. We have made some alterations to the categories available to enter, with the intention of shining a light on some of the unsung heroes of the built environment.

We have introduced five new Project categories replacing the two ‘New Build Project’ and ‘Refurbishment Project’ awards with Project of the Year – Commercial/Industrial, Project of the Year – Leisure, Project of the Year – Public Use, Project of the Year – Residential and Project of the Year – Retail.

This decision was primarily driven by the sheer level of diversity that we experienced in last year’s entries, which make it extremely difficult to compare two projects from radically different sectors. The difference between a new-build shopping centre and, say, a hospital is just too great to make a fair comparison.

As a result, we came to the decision to re-organise the awards to include categories based on industry sectors to cut down on the level of diversity in each award. This should also give us much greater scope to recognise excellence in specific fields than ever before – making room for those projects who may have ordinarily missed out on recognition under the old system.

Where before there was only two awards each for new-build and refurbishment, there is now the opportunity to recognise outstanding achievement in key sectors. Projects which may have been overlooked due to the sheer number of applicants competing for a small number of prizes will achieve recognition, and sectors which may have been overlooked in the past will take centre stage.

To enter your product, team or initiative in the 2016 Awards, visit
The deadline for entries is 10 September 2015.

For the latest Awards news, sign up to Awards e-news or follow us on twitter @CIBSEAwards.

CIBSE President's blog: The collaboration agenda

CIBSE’s newly inaugurated President Nick Mead shares an overview of his first month in office, and sets out some priorities for the future.

Welcome everyone to the first of my Presidential blogs, covering my year of office between 2015 and 2016. It’s been a month since I took office, and we have got off to a flying start. I have been looking forward to implementing my primary theme of collaboration, and I have already had the opportunity to talk more about it at over 10 major events so far. And they said it would be easy!

I thought I was on the back foot from the start, running against the General Election for attention at the AGM, but I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome at the Royal Academy of Engineering. It was here that I was able to set out my vision of a braver industry more interested in working together and breaking down silos.

I also got the chance to formally meet the board and staff at our May away day, a great opportunity to have a conversation about how the institution runs and what its aims are. I count myself lucky that this year we were able to discuss the next five year plan, and focus on our vision for the future. I’d like to use this opportunity to welcome all of our new board members again, I look forward to working with you.

It was therefore very pleasing for me to be able to see my vision at work first hand, attending the EDGE launch their report on the benefits of collaboration within the industry. Seeing some of the biggest names in the industry meeting with top industry commentators and politicians such as the Rt. Hon. Lord Deben was a perfect example of the scale of the task, and the opportunity, ahead of us.

Similarly, the Patrons event later in the month really opened up the debate on collaboration between the three presidents of CIBSE, RIBA and B&ES. This meeting has led to a sustained dialogue on the subject at a high level, and I hope this will continue when we meet again, this time in a Question Time style format at RIBA on the 22nd of June.

Being the new President of such a diverse and dynamic institution is a pretty hard concept to get your head around, and that was brought home to me at my first Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) AGM. I was happy to be there to welcome Liz Peck at her inauguration as the society’s new President, and delighted that she shares my views on collaboration in this important year – the UNESCO International Year of Light.

I have also been able to see the other side of collaboration in this first month, working with organisations and disciplines outside our own institution. I spent two days with members of the Construction Industry Council, in which we talked about the recommendations of the EDGE report, as well as discussing what both organisations have been doing independently to encourage joint action.

Similarly, it was very interesting to attend the high profile gathering at Portcullis House, arranged by CIBSE and a host of other organisations. The sight of a number of professional bodies banding together to bring the vital issue of energy efficiency before MPs was a heartening one, which illustrates exactly the kind of work we need to promote.

The purpose of the event was to encourage attending representatives to take up the Cost Effective Energy Measures Bill as a private members bill, which sets out to achieve specified purposes for CO2 reduction and the security of energy. However, the biggest take-away for me was the power of these organisations working together to persuade and influence, and the obvious effect that this power had on the MPs present.

So, despite being a busy first month, it has been an enjoyable one. Imtech (the day job!) have been very supportive of my work, and the time has really flown by. Not only has the first month been productive, but it has been a great indicator of how much there is to do over the next 11 months.