Energy Engineering Conscience – Ant Wilson responds...

I certainly believe in the value of positive debate and I am sure we all have a conscience that can drive us to create and enhance a better world. There is a saying that for evil to prosper all that is needed is for good people to say nothing and it must be time for us to start speaking up.

The rate of change in the world is accelerating and so are the harmful greenhouse gases we emit and the global carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. We have seen the 400ppm level exceeded in measurement in both Hawaii and the Arctic in the last year. With these levels of greenhouse gases, it is no surprise that we experience greater extremes of climate change. George Adams stated in his president’s blog that climate change is occurring even more quickly than predicted and that we must respond accordingly.

One way is to learn how to do “More with Less”, I am currently working on a project for WRAP and CIBSE on resource efficient building services. It is no good saying we want or need more “stuff”, as the world only has limited resources. There is scope in the design of building services to select more efficient equipment both in terms of the operational energy consumed during their lifetime and the embodied carbon/energy in the system. Various ideas have been raised and debated in workshops on heating, ventilation, cooling, lighting and lifts organised by AECOM. The first step involves using the correct calculation methods and knowing how to select the most appropriate design conditions for the selection of systems. CIBSE guidance is good, but could it be improved upon?

My three children all went to a secondary school which had the motto “In search of personal excellence” with values based on respect, responsibility, faith and compassion. AECOM has a great set of core values and a purpose “To create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments”. The core value that is overarching to all is “INTEGRITY”, which is about being honest and ethical and treating others with mutual respect. I find this to really fit in with my Christian beliefs. I want to be effective and help maintain the world’s environment and the building services engineer has a moral responsibility to act in a timely way to make this a reality.

We all need to take the climate change issues seriously and design buildings that use less energy to operate and that use less of the world’s precious resources. We can all start with our own behaviour and lifestyle, but our biggest impact can be on the work we do for clients in the built environment. If every one of over 20,000 CIBSE members could just save the use of a small amount of energy, together, we could take a large step in the right direction.

Useful resources: 
CIBSE Journal - read about the WRAP/CIBSE project that Ant is working on.
CIBSE Knowledge Portal - building services publications and guides from CIBSE

Ant Wilson is Director of Sustainability & Advanced Design - Building Engineering at Aecom. He has dedicated his career to sustainable design and is passionate about nurturing future talent. Ant is a Chartered Engineer, CIBSE Fellow, Energy Institute Fellow and Aecom Fellow. @AECOM Ant Wilson LinkedIn


  1. Thank you Ant, I have lobbied CIBSE HQ for 12 years now on the challenge of resource depletion, which, based upon the market doctrine we redefine as "resource scarcity", i.e. hard to secure rather than a more social outlook of "less to share". But there are more subtle aspects in reducing resource efficiency that I've highlighted too, ask any geologist. We in CIBSE need to increase our understanding of resource flows and efficiency at a much faster rate than we've done in the last 12 years.


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