"The CIBSE Building Performance Awards provide an invaluable beacon that others can use to light their way" - Sarah Ratcliffe, CEO, Better Building Partnership

For the first time in a long time, Climate Change seems to have a sustained presence in the headlines. The scientific evidence is overwhelming and as the physical impacts become ever more apparent, a wide range of stakeholders are beginning to acknowledge the risks and opportunities associated with addressing climate change.  

In the real estate sector, we continue to highlight the oft-quoted statistic that buildings are responsible for c40% of the UK's carbon emissions and yet evidence from CIBSE and the Better Buildings Partnership amongst others continues to highlight both the gap between the predicted performance of new buildings and their actual performance in use, and the huge inefficiencies in portfolios of existing buildings. This is why the CIBSE Building Performance Awards are so important to our industry.  

The clue is in the title. The BPA are one of the only awards that require submissions to include evidence of performance in use. This evidence is scrutinised closely by the panel of judges drawn from a wide range of organisations that are well placed to 'lift the bonnet' and look behind the headlines - the data has to match up to the pretty pictures.  For some, it might be more enjoyable to review shiny new paragons of virtue than to sit trawling through spreadsheets of performance data to work out whether or not a building is deserving of a CIBSE Building Performance Awards, but not for us CIBSE BPA judges!   So, if you are considering submitting for the award, here are a few pointers. 
Firstly, when the heavy (electronic) package of submissions hits my in-box, I'm most excited to read those submissions that deal with the basics factually and efficiently (the description of the organisation and project being submitted).  This contextual information provides an important backdrop, but please don't 'copy and paste' the corporate brochure, provide summary information that shows you have taken time to carefully consider the appropriateness and 'fit' of the initiative/project being submitted in relation to the particular award. On a more practical level, use the word count wisely - if there is generic information available elsewhere, provide links to this or include it in appendices and focus the word count on responding to the specific award criteria. If this can be packaged to make it easy on the eye then great.  We have a significant number of entries and evidence to sift through, so clear presentation with pictures of the project and graphical content that help us to synthesise the detail make our life a lot easier. 

Secondly, evidence, evidence, evidence. The awards criteria are very carefully developed to enable you to provide a wide range of information, from the strategic to the technical, but platitudes about 'strong commitments' don't wash so don't waste time trying to pull the wool over our eyes. We want clear evidence demonstrating specifically how this project addresses the criteria.  And by evidence, I mean real evidence - data, performance statistics and comparisons with benchmarks where they exist. The awards are about PERFORMANCE, so you must provide evidence to show what you measure, how you measure it and why this project shows exemplar performance. 

Thirdly, technology is not a panacea, most of the projects that come across the desks of the CIBSE judges have a strong human element to them. Who was involved, what skills did they bring to project, how did they collaborate to achieve the outcome and how did the organisation support them? And, critically, what is the user feedback? This means genuine stakeholder engagement, post-occupancy surveys including quantitative and qualitative evidence of how the project has impacted upon those that invest in, develop, manage and occupy the buildings.  

And finally, be honest. We know that no project is perfect, we know that not all projects will tick every box. I view projects much more kindly where they state challenges, highlight missing or inaccurate data and confess that perhaps not everything went as planned. This shows integrity, an eagerness to learn and a commitment to continuous improvement, not just the desire to bag an award. 

If this all sounds quite demanding, you might be wondering at this point whether it's worth the effort. The answer is, of course, absolutely.  The CIBSE Building Performance Awards are very highly regarded within the industry and provide a vital opportunity to celebrate exemplar performance, but also a platform to demonstrate an organisations' commitment, credentials, projects, products and services to a wide range of industry stakeholders and clients. 

As a CIBSE judge, I want to see the Building Performance Awards retain the quality and integrity they are known for within the industry.  More importantly,
I want to see more buildings adopting the kind of ground-breaking, innovative approaches that are highlighted through the awards. It is clear that the industry must undergo significant transformation to be able to deliver better buildings that can respond to the challenges of climate change and deliver on their promises. The CIBSE Building Performance Awards provide an invaluable beacon that others can use to light their way.

If you haven’t yet entered the 2020 Awards then there is still time to do so. Choose your categories and download your entry forms today to be in with a chance. www.cibse.org/bpa


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