Wednesday, 6 June 2012

End of first month as CIBSE President!

End of first month as CIBSE President! One AGM (thanks to all of you who emailed me thanking me for the Presidential address), one Board Away Day, one Board and a lot of extra emails. But what, asked a member of YEN after the AGM at Imperial, do you Presidents actually do?  The truth is that it is the President-Elect who has all the fun. When you are President-Elect you can say what you like, and you still get invited to lunch just in case you were going to do what you said. The President, weighed down by the Presidential gong, needs to focus on summing up wise Board decisions, and keeping an eye on the house keeping.   So what did we decide...

As our first Board action Andy Ford has been sent off to set up a panel to look at diversity within our membership and industry.  Hard on his heals was the Report of the Government’s Panel on Fair Access to the Professions.  To me it is not a rather superficial report, not least because it bundles quite different ‘professions’ together, and never models its propositions.  Engineers do not get much of a mention except to be told the blatantly obvious that we are gender lopsided.  Thank heavens Andy is on to that because the Report doesn’t seek to explore why.  However in the middle of nowhere there is a chunk on the potential of e-learning (what my grandfather would have called Night School?) which is worth a read. There is almost a coherent social mobility story to be told if we moved away from the one shot education that seems to have transfixed us.

We also agreed the start of reconfiguring the support and ownership of the content of the Knowledge Portal.  Anyone, who like me is a fan of that Civil War Movie ‘Glory’, will know the risk that a courageous step can get you to the point of victory only to turn round and find no one else has kept up with you (whoops that’s ruined that DVD!). So we agreed a new system framework, with which hopefully Council will concur, to connect the Portal into the broader CIBSE framework.  Getting new ideas in will always be a problem because those at frontiers are usually too run off their feet to even tweet.

I attended the SLL Presidential Address in a balmy evening at London Zoo.  I must recommend the Reptile House to my property developer friends. Talking of new (old) ideas about lighting, MIT was questioning last week why they needed 110V AC when, with the advent of LEDs, most things could be safe low voltage DC.  We’d had a look at the same problem a few years ago here at Imperial in the BP Advanced Energy in Buildings Programme.  A lot of it is about current densities and the cost of copper.  But LEDs get more efficient all the time. Time to re-think? Which brings me to the Big Story – the 230%  efficient LED revealed a few weeks ago again by MIT.  As I read it, it is a solid state heat pump that fires off light instead of an evaporator - so it cools the lit space when it works!  That turns everything in integrated design on its head.  One small snag – it can just about manage a picawatt. As we used to say at BRE ‘More Research is Necessary’.

Finally, as readers of the Journal may have gathered, I keep a hand in deploying building management systems for cyber terrorism.  Its been a bumper month.  Not only an FT supplement on cyber security - another wake up call I fear for Sleeping Beauties - but 1st of June the New York Times ran a chilling story of the US cyber war against the Iranian nuclear installations.   It ends Mr. Obama has repeatedly told his aides that there are risks to using - and particularly to overusing - the weapon. In fact, no country’s infrastructure is more dependent on computer systems, and thus more vulnerable to attack, than that of the United States. I’ve an article on all this in Intelligent Buildings next month where I posit how to cyber attack a super casino. I’d tell you all more but I’d miss my flight to Las Vegas.

Professor David Fisk. CIBSE President

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