Tuesday, 14 July 2015

New horizons

CIBSE President Nick Mead reflects on a month of new projects for the Institution

The second month of my presidency has been marked by a real opportunity to get stuck into the nuts and bolts of running CIBSE, all around my day job too! I have attended several key governance meetings over the course of this month including the Council, the finance subcommittee and the nominations committee. All a reminder of the tremendous amount of work that goes into running an organisation as large and diverse as CIBSE.

I also had plenty of external meetings, building on the theme of collaboration that I hope will define my term as President. Round two of the ‘Three Presidents’ debate between myself and the presidents of RIBA and B&ES took place on the 22 June at RIBA’s offices in London, in a rather more confrontational ‘Question Time’ style than the last. Despite some disagreement over exactly what is holding buildings back (is it old hierarchies, increasing complexity or reluctance to change?) it was still clear that neither CIBSE nor any of the other organisations can improve building performance on their own.

M&G's Nina Reid presents at the Building Performance Awards 2016 launch

I also met with Greg Keeling of SPACES (Society for Public Architecture, Construction, Engineering and Surveying) to look at the potential for multidisciplinary collaboration in the Public Sector. Building performance stands to be an extremely important consideration for Public Sector architecture in the coming years, as squeezed budgets force every department to get the most out of all of their assets. The potential for building services engineers to work with architects to make considerable savings over the lives of public projects is an exciting area of the performance gap to work on.

And it’s building performance that has been coming to the fore time and again, in both my career and CIBSE roles. Most noticeably the increasingly poor specifications and confusion at the design stage of projects, which featured in my discussions with RIBA President Stephen Hodder. Areas with names including ‘Stage D+’ and ‘Not quite Stage E’ are gradually creeping into project tenders, setting up the potential for confusion down the line when the finished buildings are tested against the specifications laid out in the design stage.

Keep an eye out for discussion around the issue over the next month, and in my next blog, as CIBSE embarks on another four weeks of activity on building performance – including last week’s launch of our first Code of Practise on Heat Networks and next week’s launch of Guide A on Environmental Design. It’s always exciting to take part in a site visit, and the opportunity to take a peek at Pimlico District Heating Undertaking is one of the more unique!

I’ve now got dates booked into the calendar as far as June 2016, but undoubtedly one of the events I’m most looking forward to is the Building Performance Awards. Last year’s Carbon Champion’s M&G put forward an impressive display at the launch event and we’re having a big re-vamp this year to make the awards more inclusive. Expect to see a few surprises and a few winners who might not have been recognised under the old format!

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