Friday, 6 May 2016

A wider scope

It’s only been two months since a glittering Park Lane ceremony celebrated the presentation of the Building Performance Awards 2016, but we’re already hard at work planning for next year. The call for entries for the 2017 competition opens on Monday 9 May, with the event set for 7 February at Grosvenor House.

This year will be the tenth anniversary of CIBSE awards, celebrating engineering excellence in the built environment. Over the years the awards have evolved to reflect changes in how we define building performance and best practice, and we're changing again: we've altered the name of the Building Services Consultancy of the Year category, and added a new Consultancy category. But why have we done this and why should you enter this year?

The blog spoke to 2016 judging panellists Sarah Ratcliffe, Programme Director at Better Buildings Partnership, Susan Hone-Brookes, Engineering Sustainability Leader at Laing O'Rourke and Munish Datta, Head of Plan A & FM at Marks & Spencer about the changes and their experiences on the panel.

Why change the name from Building Services Consultancy to Building Performance Consultancy, and why have three Consultancy categories: Up to 100 employees, 101-1000 employees and Over 1000 employees?
Susan: The change in name is to recognise that the focus of their work is not just to deliver purely ‘services’,  but to understand the holistic impact on post occupancy building performance. 

You would expect the challenges and resources for a company to be proportional to size and global reach. Our industry has innovative organisations setting standards on all scales. Adding a third category here is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate more consultancies on a level playing field.

So how do you see these awards as different from other awards?
Sarah: The CIBSE Building Performance Awards are different because they focus on the actual performance of buildings as opposed to building design, they require demonstrable proof (and data) to support their submissions, which in itself is a significant challenge.

Winner Project of the Year Leisure 2016 and Building Performance Champion 2016
Everyman Theatre Liverpool, by Waterman Building Services
Why do you think the CIBSE BPAs are important?
Sarah: Over 80% of the building stock today will still be here in 2050, it is therefore absolutely critical that these buildings perform to high standards – the awards are an important way of evidencing and rewarding that performance and leading by example, providing the industry with a examples where sustainability.

Munish: 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.

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?
Sarah: It is always really difficult to keep up to speed with what is going on in the industry and the awards provide a way to short-cut a lot of research into finding the best buildings out there and analysing their performance. 

There is much that we can learn from looking beyond our own field of vision, I was fascinated by some of the submissions from outside the commercial property sector (schools, hospitals theatres) that have taken a really innovative approach to sustainability and also make the connection between the performance of a building and occupier well being and productivity.

Building Performance Champions Waterman Building Services
Munish: 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.

Susan: I have long been on the ‘other side of the fence’ in regards to award submissions.  It was extremely interesting, therefore, to sit judge side and carry out the process of evaluation.  Lessons I learnt included quite simply to ‘answer the question’ posed in the award information, not to waffle, not to include too much corporate information but to include clear evidence.  I also learnt an awful lot personally from reading the submission, taking away knowledge on how building consultancies today are tackling many of the issues we as an industry currently face.  

Who would you invite to the BPA and why?
Sarah: Everyone! Delivering building performance involves collaboration across the whole property industry from investors to occupiers, asset managers to maintenance engineers. The Building Performance Awards has something for everyone – there is a huge amount to be gained from ‘designing for performance’ and the awards help to highlight leading projects that bring these benefits to life. 

Munish: 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.

A project of Hoare Lea, winner of Building Services Consultancy (Over 100) 2016
What did you find most interesting about your experience on the judging panel?
Munish: 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.

Who are you looking forward to meeting at the Awards dinner?

Munish: It’s always a pleasure to meet fellow judges and the excellent CIBSE team that diligently organise these awards. I especially enjoy meeting the individuals and organisations who bring these awards to life – all the nominees! 

To enter or to find out about any of this year's award categories, visit

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