Friday, 29 January 2016

Crossing the fence

With just under a month to go until the big night, as the 2016 CIBSE Building Performance Awards are presented to this year's worthy winners, we caught up with a winner from two years ago taking a turn as a judge.

Munish Datta, Head of Plan A and Facilities Management at Marks & Spencer, is judging the Awards for the second time. A winner back in 2014 with M&S Cheshire Oaks, Munish heads the creation of the strategy and delivery of Plan A, M&S’s sustainability programme, for M&S properties across the world and heads the team that delivers facilities management for the M&S Global HQ in London.

How do you see these awards as different from other awards?
The CIBSE BPA awards stand out for recognising in use building performance as opposed to intended or designed performance across a number of categories and industries.

Why do you think the CIBSE BPA are important?
These awards are important as they celebrate organisations and buildings that are achieving huge reductions of emissions and operational costs. As the global building stock contributes significantly to global carbon emissions, making heroes of those that are leading reduction is critical to mobilise the industry as a whole.

Munish collects the Carbon Champion of the Year Award 2014 for M&S
Has joining the judging panel changed your perception of the building performance awards?
 As double winners in the 2014 CIBSE BPA Awards (‘New Build Project of the Year - over £10m’ and the ‘Carbon Champion of the Year’ for M&S Cheshire Oaks Plan A Store) I have first-hand experience of the thoroughness of the judging process. Sitting on the other side of the fence as judge has re-enforced this perception both in terms of the process and quality of judging.  

Judges bring invaluable knowledge and experience to the awards judging process but did you find any benefit personally or professionally from participating in this experience?
I feel incredibly privileged and humbled to be part of the judging team. Being able to share views about industry best practise with this team has been invaluable in building my knowledge about how to create truly operationally sustainable buildings.

What did you find most interesting about your experience on the judging panel?
 I am particularly impressed by the focus on reductions in life cycle carbon in addition to operational carbon – it’s important to recognise that embedded carbon is ultimately operational carbon in the entire value chain.
Double CIBSE Building Performance Award winner M&S Cheshire Oaks
What entry did you find most impressive/interesting/inspiring and why?
 It would be unfair to single out one particular entry! Year on year, the general quality of entries is improving both in terms of quality and quantity which makes it tougher for judges and is an indication on the increasing importance of these awards to the industry.

Who would you invite to the BPA and why?

I would love to invite ‘Starchitects’ so that they can appreciate how important it is to design buildings that operate efficiently, are enjoyable for their occupants and look beautiful within their broader context.

Want to comment? Contact @CIBSE or @MunishDatta on Twitter to continue the conversation. 

For more information about the Building Performance Awards 2016 visit

Friday, 22 January 2016

First time for everything

CIBSE would not be able to manage all of the work it does without an army of volunteers behind it, tirelessly giving their free time to the Institution. At the highest level, busy engineers serve as board members within the organisation deciding its future direction. We spoke to board member and Vice-President Cathie Simpson, to find out a bit more about what members of the board do. 

November and December are a busy time for a CIBSE Vice President, as we have the privilege of visiting Regions to attend Annual Dinners.  The first this year was in Northern Ireland where I was able to squeeze in a visit to the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre courtesy of Gary Bennett, who was instrumental in its design.  (Culinary note: the best gravy in the world is made with Bushmills whiskey – unbelievable!)  My visit to the Northern Ireland Region left me with an impression of ‘innovation and sustainable design’. 

The East Anglia Regional dinner followed in Cambridge where I was amazed at the number of female engineers, which was very inspiring and is a strong element of the Region’s identity, and the Regional Chair has come through the Young Engineers Network, one of several who have moved from the YEN to the main committee.

The Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland ©B. Fullerton
The desire of contractors to participate in CIBSE was once again very evident (aside, President Nick Mead and former Presidents Peter Kinsella and George Adams have all come from a contracting background!). The West Midlands Regional dinner was in early December, held in Birmingham, and the industry sponsorship was remarkable.  There was a wide diversity of members from different industry sectors which made for a very dynamic evening.

At all the dinners, I had many constructive and interesting discussions about the CIBSE 2020 vision and the implications for membership and what skills and knowledge members would need in 2020 to deliver building performance. I was given ideas for possible new events and initiatives to consider and evaluate, and the relevant staff within CIBSE are now aware of these.  I also met with non-members wanting to know how best to join and I subsequently linked these people to CIBSE Members who could help them.

Recognition and thanks must go to John Davidson and the Northern Ireland committee, Jon Page and the East Anglia committee and Eric Roberts and the West Midlands committee for all their hard work to obtain sponsorship and plan these events.

A packed auditorium at the 2015 Technical Symposium
A topic that cropped up time and time again in the Regions, as it did at Council in October, is ‘what can members do to address the chronic skills shortage?’ You will be pleased to know that CIBSE Patrons are supporting a unique initiative called Class of Your Own and I must have linked up many members over the past few weeks who are interested in taking this forward.  If you want to find out more please don’t hesitate to contact me; I can assure you that after 10 minutes in one of the Class of Your Own schools you will be truly inspired!

To keep my inspiration topped up I visited Beechen Cliff School in Bath who are in the first year of Class of Your Own. I left with a sense of amazement that children so young could discuss the complex interrelationship of energy, comfort and sustainability within such a short learning period.  I also met with Richard Folkson, the President of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, who had expressed an interest in learning more about Class of Your Own when we met at the CIBSE/ASHRAE graduate of the year awards October.

I closed last year with some background work with the Technical Symposium committee headed up by Tim Dwyer.  The event goes from strength to strength and I hope you will take a look at what is planned.  We could do with a few more reviewers for papers so if you fancy volunteering in the comfort of your own home (with a suitable beverage in hand of course!) please contact Tim Dwyer.
Best wishes, happy New Year, and thanks for your support in 2015.

I would also like to give a huge congratulations to the 2015 years award winners and runners-up, who have all made an immense contribution to the work CIBSE does.

Charity Nicholls, Ryan Rodrigues and Alexandra Lindesay-Bethune

Ken Dale Travel Bursary
Luke Ramsey

The President's Prize
Kaitlin Allen (Winner)
Jolyon Axelrod (Runner up)
Aimee Desert (Runner up)

Young Engineers Award  
Ryan Rodrigues (Graduate of the Year)
Charity Nicholls (Runner up)
Alexandra Lindesay-Bethune (Runner up)
Services Design Solutions (Employer of the Year)

Honorary Fellows
Humphreys, M 
Holmes, M
Smith, M
Day, P

Gold Medallists
Ogus, H

IHVE/CIBSE Bronze Medal
Richard Seagrief
David Wright
John Doherty
Patrick Lehane
David Callaghan
Kenneth Beecroft

Napier-Shaw Bronze Medal
SG. Howieson, T. Sharpe and P. Farren

CIBSE Silver Medal
Northey, C
Anderson, J
Kelly, K

Carter Bronze Medal
Prof. YH. Yau and Dr. BT. Chew

Friday, 15 January 2016

A flying start

A whirlwind couple of months after Ryan Rodrigues of HurleyPalmerFlatt won the 2015 Graduate of the Year Award at the CIBSE Young Engineers Awards, we caught up with the young electrical engineering consultant to get his perspective on life as a newly minted engineer

When I first started off as a building services graduate engineer, I was advised to replicate the mechanism of a sponge and absorb every bit of information I could. That is the attitude with which I approached my role and any projects I worked on. As most of my colleagues have a wealth of experience, there was a huge knowledge pool and an environment to ask questions about the way things were done. 

This has helped expand my very own knowledge base and allowed me to work on multiple projects, each more diverse from the next. Graduates are often seen as an extra pair of hands within businesses as they can quickly move from project to project as and when required. 

To be honest, it was rather overwhelming at the start, as I had to play catch-up on design principles and relevant standards prior to developing working designs. However with the right direction, support and mentorship, businesses can mould graduates into the ideal building services engineer.

Ryan collects his 2015 Graduate of the Year Award
Over the past few years I have been working on commercial and residential projects, some of which are in its design stage while others are on site. Key projects of mine have varied from a listed building in Paddington station, the iconic colourful Central Saint Giles, Imperial College halls of residence at White City and even a London city skyline skyscraper at Bishopsgate. I have also had the pleasure of working with multiple engineers, architects, cost consultants and clients as a result of a diverse array of projects with each individual showing me a new and unique way of tackling a problem.

The unique role of a building services engineer is that it is never repetitive as each project is unique and different at each stage. One morning I can be at the office doing design drawings, another day at a client or design team meeting / workshop and later donning a high-vis jacket with a hard hat and being on site.

However the role is not without its own challenges. 

The industry is slow to change and often things are done in a particular way only because that is how it has been carried out on previous projects. Hence I have to demonstrate the pros and cons for each solution with more focus on new and growing technologies.

Another challenge I face is something most university graduates come across when joining the industry without site-based experience. Without site exposure it is often difficult to visualise services in a building particularly while developing design drawings at the office. This challenge for me was resolved by asking for more site based work to understand and integrate the practical side of design with the theoretical element.

The ever-changing London skyline
Some of the most exciting opportunities I have had since I have joined the industry are site surveys in unique projects and location. A few examples come to mind such as a survey in a Middle-Eastern embassy and a couple roofs of some famous skyscrapers that offer thrilling views of the London skyline. Once projects are complete, a simple walk around the city to see the finished product being used by people day in day out gives me a sense of self-satisfaction that truly makes me proud to be a building services engineer.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Planning for the worst

The integration and interconnection of building operating systems over an IP network provides building managers with significant benefits but they can also expose businesses to greater cyber security risks if they don’t have a fall back plan says an anonymous CIBSE expert, working in the security industry.  

The 17 June was an important date for building owners and operators. On that day in 2010 the Stuxnet malware (malicious software) was identified. Unlike conventional malware, which wreaks damage in the virtual world, Stuxnet targeted the software controlling pumps, valves, lifts, lighting and machinery. It was the first computer virus with the potential to cause real-world damage.

Stuxnet was designed to specifically target programmable logic controllers running Siemens software through vulnerability in the Windows operating platform. The internet is awash with theories as to where the virus originated. The most popular is that the US government introduced the virus to target the centrifuges used by Iran in its Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, the output of which was ostensibly for the county’s nuclear power stations but which could also be used for nuclear weapons.

The Stuxnet virus was one of the first to cause real-world damage
The malware, which is now supposedly patched, shows how building systems can be compromised and highlights the damage that can be done by viruses infecting process controllers and even building management systems (BMS). It is a threat that is likely to increase with the greater integration and interconnection of building controls and other systems because the BMS is often networked with data centres, remote access servers and even utility providers through open protocols.

Imagine the impact on an organisation if hackers were to take over control of the lifts in its headquarters, or turned off the fire alarms and lights and turned up the heating. The building would be unusable and normal business operations would have to halt.

In the past the cyber attacks on building systems was less of a risk because each building service had its own dedicated cabling system and controls protocol. Over time, however, these systems have migrated onto a common internet protocol (IP) based cabling system. A single IP communications cable (such as a Cat 6) might now carry everything from business systems such as voice, data and video, security, energy management, access control, lighting, lift controls, HVAC and fire and life safety systems.

Many functions can now be carried by one set of cables

The big advantage of this convergence is that it enables increased interaction between systems to maximise energy efficiency and to providing real-time information on how buildings are being used, often with the ability to access and manage multiple buildings remotely.

The downside of having an external access facility is that it can be exploited by cyber criminals. This was the case with Target stores in the USA. In November 2013, attackers gained admittance to Target’s IT network by stealing access details from the company’s HVAC contractor, which was authorised to access the system to enable it to monitor energy consumption and temperatures in the firm’s stores. Once in the system, the attackers then went on to steal payment card details for the retailer’s customers. According to BSRIA research, over 90% of all larger buildings (those above 50,000m2) in the USA “have some kind of BACS and many are to some degree at risk”.

While the attack on Target was confined to a single business, the government is concerned that vulnerability to cyberattacks can extend outside of buildings and into the electricity network. The Government’s Science and Technology Committee describe the threat as “significant” in its report Resilience of the Electricity System. It is a threat that is likely to increase as the grid becomes smarter and ever more dependent on ICT and two-way communication between buildings, their management systems and the grid.

Until the Stuxnet attack the security of building management systems was not considered a high priority.  While security protection of computers and servers was considered, much less attention was given to the protection of HVAC equipment and lighting controls, for example. This is no longer the case; experts now warn that if a device is on a building’s network it can be discovered and used as a launch pad to infiltrate other devices and systems.

It is not simply newer buildings with fully integrated building systems that are under threat, older buildings running legacy BMS systems, which are based on older operating software, are perhaps even more susceptible to attack. This is because the system’s vulnerabilities are well known to hackers and the software provider may have stopped updating the system with security patches, providing an open back door for malicious attacks on a building.

Older equipment can be a gateway into a building's other systems
For businesses, developing, testing and deploying security measures in their buildings should be an ongoing process. To help prevent cyber attacks building operators should assess the vulnerabilities of every building system and determine: what its loss will mean to the ongoing operation of the building; its impact on the occupants; and its impact on the business. This will allow measures appropriate to the threat to be implemented.

Even with comprehensive security measures in place, experts are warning that building occupiers should still assume that all the preventative measures will fail. As a consequence, they should design the building services to operate for this worst case scenario. This is far from straightforward: if there was a power failure in a building and the standby generators’ firmware had been hacked, which meant the control system failed to recognise a power failure, how easy would it be for a business to manually override these controls and start the generators manually?

David Fisk, Professor of Systems Engineering & Innovation at Imperial College London and a past president of CIBSE says it is critical for building services to have some basic hardwired ‘black-start’ functionality to allow manual operation as a fall-back. “An identified minimum level of service and hardware hardwired that can provide it is thus essential,” he says in his paper Cyber Security and Building Services. “The very existence of such a plan may not make the reward of a targeted attack worthwhile”.