Friday, 16 December 2016

Future perfect

Last week's #Build2Perform blog 'Back to the future' focussed on the future of Building Services, as told by our 'Are you ready for a digital future?' panel at the Conference and Exhibition. This month's podcast takes a look from another angle - by looking at the past. Principal of Atelier Ten Patrick Bellew and Max Fordham, Founder of Max Fordham LLP, are our speakers.

This Month's podcast featured extracts from the CIBSE Building Performance Conference and Exhibition session 'Celebrating Anniversaries & Sharing Aspirations', featuring Patrick Bellew and Max Fordham, and chaired by Peter Murray of New London Architecture.

This session focussed on the history of their two organisations, both industry heavyweights and CIBSE award winners in their own right, and what lessons they have learned over the years. As well as a look at the changes within the industry over the last 50 years, the session also took a look forward into the industry's future, as we try to apply what we've learned from technological revolutions in years past to the ones happening right now.

Here's some more information on some of the issues raised in the podcast:

  • Tamsin Tweddle outlines her work on Soft Landings in the Architect's Journal
  • The CIBSE Journal takes a look at Cundall's newly Well Certified offices in London, which incorporate high indoor air quality standards.
  • The #Build2Perform podcast hears from Conference speaker and sustainability consultant Julie Godefroy about indoor air quality.
  • BIM Consultant Carl Collins writes on how to use BIM more intelligently, and talks about it in our podcast 'Zen and the Art of BIM'

Friday, 9 December 2016

Back to the future

A month after the CIBSE Conference and Exhibition, CIBSE Communications Executive Matt Snowden takes a look back at the highlights of the session 'Are you ready for a digital future?' and examines what we learned.

When we take a step back and review the engineering industry it’s easy to take a look at the past and the future. We can look at the decisions and plans we made a week, a month or a year ago and take lessons from the good and bad things that resulted, and promise to learn from them. That’s all part of planning for the future, where we’re confident that these experiences will help us to avoid making mistakes and achieve our objectives.

What is much harder is examining what we are doing right now, particularly where technology is concerned, mostly because of a lack of data. At a time when new technology available to the engineering sector promises to revolutionise our jobs as much as when the computer replaced the drafting desk, it seems impossible to imagine that this might be holding us back rather than pushing us forward.

Talking about digital issues can focus too much on the tech, and
not enough on the user
That’s exactly what was discussed at the CIBSE Conference and Exhibition, during the session ‘Are you ready for a digital future’, but rather than focussing on the ‘business end’ of the issue – the technology itself – the session focussed on the ‘back end’ – the supply chain that is trying to use it. 

The result was some interesting points about what the supply chain actually wants from digital engineering, and how companies can overcome their own shortcomings to take full advantage.
Mike Darby, CEO & Co-Founder of Demand Logic, made a great point early on about the sheer volume of data available to engineers in the modern world. A lot has been said about big data in just about every industry there is, but built environment professionals are at the forefront of the biggest connected devices in the world – the buildings we live and work in.

He calculates that there are over 170,000 BIM data points in a new building like 20 Fenchurch Street (the Walkie Talkie) alone, bringing in spreadsheets worth of data every day, but that the human interface with this data creates a bottleneck. Every byte of that data is wasted, along with the resources expended to gather it, if it is not stored and used correctly at the user end. This amounts to a lot of waste, both potential and actual, and a lot of money thrown away as a result.

The 'Digital future' panel in action at the CIBSE Conference
One of the issues at play was raised afterwards by panellist Dave Mathews, a Partner at Hoare Lea, who said that we’re just not designing user-friendly systems that give simple feedback about their performance. This is an obvious problem, because users can’t act on what their building is telling them about its performance if they can’t understand what it’s telling them. This part is the responsibility of engineers, who can demonstrate their value to a project by working with the other stakeholders and the occupants to explain how a building works and why.

The job of the engineer shouldn't stop at handover
The job of the engineer doesn’t end when the keys to the building are handed over and everybody has moved in. Alex McLaren of Heriot-Watt University was on the panel, and believes that it’s her responsibility as an engineer to revisit the project periodically to check up on the tenants, and to see what lessons she can learn by the project in-use as well. According to Mike Darby, often the people in charge of maintaining the building and its performance just aren’t trained to a high enough standard to get the best use out of its systems.

By sticking with a project to make sure that everybody has enough information to run it properly afterwards, an engineer can ensure that issues that aren’t picked up in the six-week commissioning period don’t come back to haunt them later on. This can simply mean a handover period to explain why certain systems exist and how they work, or it can even mean a more in-depth training period to bring the maintenance staff up to speed. This sounds like a lot of work but, of course, there’s something in it for the engineer too. 

As Alex McLaren said in the panel: ‘Who remembers the engineer after the end of a project?’ You may not have your name stamped on the building like an architect would, but you can demonstrate continuous value to the project way beyond delivery by ensuring it works well.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Ties that bind

Last month, CIBSE and its American counterpart ASHRAE celebrated their 40th anniversary of working together at a ceremony in London, and also signed an agreement to work closer together. This week, CIBSE Communications Executive Matt Snowden (MS) and ASHRAE President Tim Wentz (TW) examine what that deal means in practice

TW: On the 40th Anniversary of ASHRAE/CIBSE collaboration, the two world-leading engineering organizations signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement. The agreement’s purpose is to provide a framework through which ASHRAE and CIBSE can work collaboratively to leverage each other’s strengths and accomplish organizational goals which best serve their respective members, the profession and society. 

The basic tenets of the agreement include:
  • Development of joint training and educational programs in Europe.
  • Exploring development of new conferences that accelerate technology dissemination.
  • Collaboration on research that will advance mutual member interests.
  • Coordination of research programs.
  • Mutual endorsement of conferences and exchange of technical expert speakers. 
  • Connecting of aligned membership demographics, such as Young Engineers in ASHRAE and the CIBSE Young Engineers Network.
  • Exploring opportunities to collaborate on technical publications and standards.
  • Commitment to annual volunteer or staff leadership meetings.
  • Annual staff exchanges.
ASHRAE President Prof Tim Wentz and CIBSE President John Field
 sign the agreement

What does this deal mean to the two organisations?

TW: Collaboration and sharing of knowledge are key to advancing the built environment industry. ASHRAE’s partnership with CIBSE over the last 40 years has proven to be an invaluable collaboration for our respective members and the industry at large. Our joint work through conferences, publications and education has greatly added to the worldwide best practices databank of innovative and successful technologies. I am pleased to celebrate this milestone and look forward to many more

MS: CIBSE and ASHRAE are two world-leading engineering organisations who bring many positives to the global building services industry, but at the same time have significant and positive differences. There are some instances where the task of tackling the problems which face the engineering industry will require us to work together, and times when it is better suited for us to work separately.

The worthy winner of CIBSE's graduate of the year award will attend this
year's ASHRAE winter conference in Las Vegas

Will this impact the way ASHRAE and CIBSE work with other organizations?

TW: No. ASHRAE and CIBSE both have unique relationships with organizations around the world, and that will continue. Additionally, the ASHRAE CIBSE strategy encourages working collaboratively with other organizations.

MS: One of the biggest strengths of the two organisations is their global reach, unaffected by borders, and their global network of collaborating partners. This agreement will not affect any of these relationships, and both CIBSE and ASHRAE will continue working in unique ways with these partners. In fact, this new agreement will help strengthen global collaboration with different partners, and emphasise collaboration as part of its strategy.

How will this impact members?

Members will benefit from the combined global
reach of both organisations
TW: How will members be impacted? Positively! Combining resources for common member goals and encouraging a global exchange of ideas and technologies will benefit all members. There are no immediate changes to benefits provided to either organization’s members. CIBSE and ASHRAE members already take advantage of a membership reciprocity agreement. The potential is enormous!

MS: As the only two organisations in our field with a global reach, CIBSE and ASHRAE have significant common ground and shared interests since the start of their excellent relationship 40 years ago.This new agreement will strengthen that relationship, and help spread the benefits it bring to both CIBSE and ASHRAE members, global partners and to the engineering industry as a whole. By finding opportunities to utilise and deploy both organisations separate resources, skills and expertise, CIBSE and ASHRAE will find new ways to tackle the issues facing the industry, expand our common goals and strengthen the synergy between the two.

Will joint programs be implemented in the U.S. and the UK? 

TW: There are no geographical boundaries on the collaborative programming. CIBSE and ASHRAE will align goals and resources wherever it best serves our respective members to do so. 

MS: One area of improvement will be in communication: Both organisations will ensure that the other is informed on major initiatives, and will work together to develop strategies to deploy these initiatives around the world. There will be an annual staff exchange, as well as an annual vision meeting to ensure that the two organisations become more closely aligned.

Collaboration will also benefit. Team working outcomes are normally better than working as individuals, and the agreement will pave the way for greater. This will benefit members, both societies and society in general. Collaboration between chapters and groups will ensure that those with similar remits in their respective regions will communicate closely and share knowledge, both organisations will work together in advocating building services related policies in their respective territories’ legislatures, and both organisations will create and cross-promote publications of mutual benefit in each other’s memberships.

Better communication and knowledge sharing between the two organisations
will benefit members
One of the two organisations’ great strengths is in their work within the engineering communities, and their existing network of relationships and collaborations through which they are able to make positive contributions to the industry. This agreement is the start of creating that framework to serve society and the profession more effectively in the future.

How can I get involved?

TW: ASHRAE and CIBSE are driven by volunteer expertise and leadership. There will be many opportunities for members to get involved as joint programs are implemented. Those interested in volunteering should send an email to or