Life behind the scenes

Well, it appears the summer vacations are now truly over, we are in the run up to Christmas (just over 12 weeks) and life continues at 100mph.

It has been a great month at CIBSE with all the in house meetings and public events. In the background, HQ is on the go with meetings covering such a wide and diverse range of issues that we seldom give them credit for. Knowledge, finance, technical, membership etc. etc. are constantly being delivered, reviewed, and updated to ensure the intricate clock keeps ticking. As a president, we only tend to cover the perimeter of many of the ongoing issues but the bits I have been involved in have been fascinating and surprising.

Where do we go with CEnv? Should Universities cover Heritage issues on their courses? Where do we stand on apprentices? Where do we tie into other Professional Bodies? The list goes on over several hundred e-mails. All demanding an answer and needing to be prioritised to ensure nothing critical falls by the side. 

CIBSE HQ: A hive of activity

Then there are the formal bits. The B&ES president’s lunch was interesting, particularly as it is the contracting companies that are members and the lunch provided an insight into their viewpoint of the industry and the constraints and the difficulties in tendering in the current market. The industry is suffering from many projects that are, in the current market, not affordable to the client, and so “Value Engineering” (sometimes called Vandal Engineering) becomes a major driver. This is not only causing huge cost to the contractor and the original consultant but pushing programmes to very difficult limits. Something that needs to be addressed for the future.

I had a great lunch with the Society Chairs and Presidents as well this month. All the Societies (SLL, SoPHE, SFE and ILEVE) are all very focused and keen to offer a varied and interesting agenda for the coming year. October 1st saw the very successful and popular SLL “Night of Heritage light which illuminated nine UNESCO world heritage sites across the UK. (See

This month also saw the inauguration of the new RIBA president, Jane Duncan, who took over from Stephen Hodder. This was celebrated at the Presidents Fundraising dinner on the 16th in Portland Place.

Guide D was launched at a well-attended function in Northampton. Being a services engineer by background, I was interested to see so many issues now included in the Guide relevant to M&E services, well worth a look. I was also honoured to present an Honorary Fellowship to Peter Day for all his outstanding work on the Guide over the years and other much valued support to the Institution.
On the matter of support to CIBSE, it was also an honour to see Peter Caplehorn being presented as Honorary Member to CIAT at their lunch at the Savoy.

Setting up at Blaenavon ahead of the Night of Heritage Light, ©James Jones
Peter is not only a long-standing personal friend and colleague but has been a great supporter of CIBSE, especially in his new role as Policy Director for The Construction Products Association. He has also been involved in many industry and government programmes, particularly on the technical and health and safety side of the industry.  Peter is the deputy chair of the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) and currently chairs the British Standards Institution’s strategic committee for construction.  His main focus recently has been the new CDM Regulations, application of Building Information Modelling (“BIM”) within construction regulations and future building regulations. Great to see Architecture and Services coming together. 

With regards to the day job, well that has settled down now and business is as usual carrying out a lot of VE on tenders, and looking at day to day issues on projects. We held one of our engineering forums this month and one topic was fuel cells. This is a surprising market that seems to be quietly progressing behind the scenes. Imtech are currently collaborating with CIBSE on a Micro CHP validation testing proposal with the University of St Andrews. Watch this space

Well that’s all folks and have a good October


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