Friday, 13 January 2017

Northern lights

The 2016 awards season has come and gone, and the year's achievements have been well and truly celebrated. But this year saw the launch of a ceremony with a difference. Simon Owen, Director at Calibre Search and Chair of the CIBSE Yorkshire Region, looks back at the first services awards outside London.

On the 18th November I nervously welcomed over 300 guests to the Royal Armouries in Leeds. A marked departure from their traditional annual dinner, the Yorkshire Region Awards 2016 (CYAs) were a first for a CIBSE region, the organising committee and the only services specific awards outside London. I need not have been too concerned, because behind me were a small army from a range of sponsors and entrants plus industry recognised speakers and a small group of volunteers who ensured the events success.

The CIBSE Yorkshire Awards are not mine, theirs or CIBSE’s: we wanted to create an opportunity for the Yorkshire Building Services family to gain recognition for their achievements to enable professional and commercial benefit for themselves and the whole industry; we have merely facilitated, and that opportunity was certainly taken.
The CIBSE Yorkshire Awards are about more than just the trophies
Certainly, trophies were given: to those with the highest CPD hours as well as the more traditional “X of the Year” awards for Project, Small and Large Consultancy in addition to categories for Students, Manufacturers and Facilities Management teams. But it wasn’t just an evening for back-slapping and handing out prizes – we also wanted those who attended to come away with some genuinely new and inspiring ideas that they could then share throughout their businesses and networks in Yorkshire and beyond.

Addressing the audience, Chris Gorse from Leeds Sustainability Institute discussed climate change and the role of building services engineers in educating clients and creating solutions. As well as quoting Spiderman (“with great power, comes even great responsibility”), he issued this call to action:

“As services engineers, the most powerful Environmental Engineers in construction, we have to innovate to help sustain the things we have grown to love.”

Chris Gorse from Leeds Sustainability Institute
There were a lot of exciting, innovative and interesting projects on show. While Adam Smith from The Real Junk Food Project, (TRJFP) had to withdraw from speaking, their work is deep, green thinking. By intercepting food surplus and distributing it on a Pay as You Feel basis, TRJFP has created training opportunities, enhanced feelings of self worth and reconnected people with their senses around food and social value. Using the example that of a 40% waste allowance when externally insulating a house, there must be scope for a similar scheme in construction.

This, and other projects exhibited on the night, are a perfect example of what the Awards were about. We’re not here to pontificate, and tell the industry what they should be doing in building. We’re here to show by example what is possible, and demonstrate the enormous benefits that innovating along similar lines can bring. To inspire, rather than insist.

In a similar vein, we were joined by three great speakers who certainly inspired. The first was Peter Hansford, former Chief Construction Adviser, who gave a brief overview of the industry; the innovation, the world class expertise and the ability of UK companies to compete on the world wide stage. Peter also discussed the looming skills shortage affecting not just construction, but all industries, and so the need for construction to compete for the talent it needs to ensure its future success.

This led on to Helen Vardy of King Ecgbert School in Sheffield, whose pupils won the Class of Your Own (COYO) design competition to design a school for the Parabongo region of Uganda. She told the audience what COYO brought to her students and how it gave them an insight in to all aspects of building engineering as well as the chance to use the same tools that the industry does, in the same way.

To prove this Alison Watson from COYO launched her #BuildParabongo crowd funding campaign to take the King Ecgbert team’s design, which has since had detail design input from Arup and BAM providing costing information, and turn it in to a real, live school for the community.
The University of Bradford team with their award
In another departure from tradition, as well as raising funds at the Awards, guests also donated time and skills to The Real Junk Food Project and COYO by making pledges. This was inspired by Adam Smith’s Pay as You Feel model which demonstrates that everyone has something to offer beyond currency.

Peter Hansford summed up the night itself and its goal of creating a forward thinking legacy:

"The CIBSE Yorkshire Awards was a great success.  My congratulations to all the award winners.  I hope that many of your members take up the call to help inspire the next generation into construction, by supporting Class of Your Own and its #BuildParabongo appeal."

Given the format of the evening, the financial donations coupled with the pledges made to give time and skills to the Real Junk Food Project and COYO as well as the Awards themselves, there is a good chance that hope will be fulfilled. We're already getting the 2017 edition in the calendar, so if this sounds like something you'd like to be part of - visit the website.

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