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Overall attendance to CIBSE Build2Perform Live more than doubled at the 2017 event with 1,400+ unique visitors, speakers and exhibitor flocking to London’s Olympia for the biggest showcase of products and services in the Building Services sector.

Organisers Step Place and CIBSE had a busy two days this year managing 180 speakers – who presented more than 70 hours of CPD content across seven theatres, which took place in London on November 21st & 22nd saw over 1,400 visitors and seminar attendees’

The breakdown of attendance

Type Day 1 Day 2 Total
Visitors* 561 486 1,047
Visitors** 54 39 93
Speakers 125 55 180
VIP/Press 8 4 12
Exhibitor registrations # 116 50 166
Re-visits   (185) (185)
Total Attendance: 864 634 1,498

*    Pre-registered visitors

** Attendees registering onsite

#    Exhibitor staff & guests

Re-visits – includes returning attendees from Day 1 on Day 2

 

Total attendance by type 

Type Total
Visitors Seminars** 924
Visitors 216
Speakers 180
VIP/Press 12
Exhibitor registrations # 166
Re-visits (185)
Total Attendance: 1,498

 

Number of Exhibitors:

  • 40 Exhibitors (32 in 2016)
  • 410m² (Total space 254m² in 2016)

 

Opening day

The event was opened on Day 1 by Peter Wong, CIBSE President followed by a session on What Skills do we need to improve building performance – other content included sessions on:

  • Lighting Spaces: User Wellbeing & Performance brought by the CIBSE Daylight Group and the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL)
  • Combined Heat and Power & District Heating brought by the CIBSE CHP and District Heating Group
  • How to engage better with clients (CIBSE Young Engineers network)
  • Natural Ventilation brought by the CIBSE Natural Ventilation Group
  • Improving Building Performance in the UK’s Existing Buildings brought by the CIBSE Heritage Group
  • How to reduce energy costs brought by the CIBSE Energy Performance Group
  • Wellbeing brought by the CIBSE Natural Ventilation Group
  • Designing out domestic overheating risk in challenging urban environments brought by the CIBSE Young Engineers Network (YEN)
  • Making Heritage buildings perform brought by the CIBSE Heritage Group
  • BIM & Digital Engineering Design presented by the CIBSE BIM & Digital Steering

 

New format

The excellent attendance at Build2Perform Live proved the appeal of the new format. With some 180 speakers leading five simultaneous seminar streams, combined with volunteer presentations, special interest group meetings and exhibitor stands for specialist suppliers, Build2Perform Live covered a lot of ground with the free-to-attend event clearly striking the right note with visitor numbers double those of the two day conference in 2016.

 

Second day content

On Day 2 Stephan Lisk, CIBSE President Elect opened proceedings followed by a session on Fellows Unwritten Rules of Building Services presented by CIBSE Fellows Network and CIBSE FM Group in advance of a packed programme that included:

  • Building Simulation for 21st century brought by the CIBSE Building Simulation Group
  • Air Quality: Improving Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality in the built environment
  • Review of domestic water system sizing brought by the Society of Public Health Engineers (SoPHE)
  • Resilient Cities brought by the CIBSE Resilient Cities Group
  • Energy Performance in Buildings brought by the CIBSE Young Energy Performance Group
  • Update on energy and building regulations presented by the CIBSE Technical team and industry experts
  • Homes for the future brought by the CIBSE Homes for the future group
  • How facilities management supports building performance brought by CIBSE Facilities Management Group
  • BIM & Digital Engineering: Make brought by the BIM & Digital Steering Group
  • Building Services: technology Update
  • Energy metering best practice brought by the CIBSE Energy Performance Group

Steve Webb, Director for organiser Step Place Events comments; “we worked closely with a number of key organisations this year to attract as diverse an audience as possible. Over half the attendees are CIBSE members or linked to associated organisations, however it is important to engage with others who have an involvement in the management and maintenance of our buildings and building performance. Key to this was the support of organisations like BCIA, BESA, BPF, ECA, ICOM, IHEEM, and IOR who helped promote the event to their members and key groups.

 

Exhibitor CPD Presentations

While our exhibitors also presented 18 Exhibitor CPD presentations. The free-to-attend theatres on the exhibition floor had standing room only at many sessions attended by visitors responsible for running and maintaining many of the biggest buildings and estates in the UK and across the World. The Attendee Profile included those responsible for:

  • Key policy and other officials from Government; construction organisations; professional institutions and building services
  • Senior management across the building and building services supply and demand chains
  • Facilities managers, building services engineers and building/construction consultants
  • Clients: property developers, property companies, major property owning/using organisations – government, local Authority, health, commercial, industrial, hospitality and leisure, retail
  • Specialist and main contractors
  • Manufacturers and suppliers
  • Hands-on engineers and specifiers

 

Testimonials

Attendees, supporters and Exhibitors have been quick to praise the event; commenting:

@SchrederUK @CIBSE’s #Build2Perform event has been a huge success so far – big thank you to everyone for checking out our #LED luminaires with #lighting gurus Grant Feast and @mattbennffc

@PBC_Today The first day of the @CIBSE #Build2Perform event at London’s Olympia has proven a success, with the number of visitors exceeding the total number of delegates over the entire conference last year

@Colt_UK We spoke to a lot of visitors at @CIBSE #Build2Perform Live and received a brilliant response to our live product demos, especially our Firelight DUO RN with it’s now famous red button!

Jarryd @Jarryd_Collins Great to hear what the industry has to say, some thought provoking presentations creating great conversations at the @CIBSE #Build2Perform event.

Loic Jacob @lfmcjacob Interesting panel discussion at stage D #Build2Perform @CIBSE. Projects should focus on why we want to retrofit, not how to do it. Talk first,

engineer later.

@MonodraughtLtd  We had a great time at the #Build2perform event last week.  Thanks to everyone who came to the CPD session or visited the stand.

Andrew Fletcher‏ @carboncontrolaf Excellent 2 days spent at this year’s #CIBSE #Build2Perform. Great sessions, seeing old friends and networking. Chairing session on #Battery Technology was fascinating!

Zoe De Grussa @zdegrussa Fantastic closing discussion from @ArupGroup Arfon Davies & @Cundall_Global Andrew Bissell on the importance of real world data collection in combination with POE to drive innovation and education #Build2Perform

Hodkinson @Rhodcon Really interesting seminar by @CIBSE Homes for the Future Group yesterday at #Build2Perform

Susan Hone-Brookes‏ @brookes_hone Packed sessions at #Build2Perform @CIBSE Air Quality. Enjoyed chairing. Thanks to all the speakers. @the_MTC_org

@TopscanUK Retweeted Helen Taylor Great to be attending day two of the @CIBSE #Build2Perform event.  Fantastic opportunity to get a first-hand view of some of the most exciting work being done in the industry!

CIBSE Build2perform Live 2018 takes place on the 27th & 28th November at Olympia, London

For more information contact the sales team: 01892 518877 Email: steve@stepex.com 

Excellent attendance figures for the first day of CIBSE Build2Perform Live at London’s Olympia have proved the appeal of the new format.

With some 130 speakers leading five simultaneous seminar streams, combined with volunteer presentations, special interest group meetings and exhibitor stands for specialist suppliers, Build2Perform Live is covering a lot of ground. The free-to-attend event is clearly striking the right note with visitor numbers midway through day one exceeding the total number of delegates over the whole two day conference in 2016.

Many sessions focused on finding the ideal combination of natural phenomena and engineered solutions.

The lighting session considered the profound effects of natural circadian rhythms on people’s health and how well designed artificial lighting can complement this natural system. The session also pointed out how ill-considered building design – tinted windows keeping out too much UV light or a landlord insisting on the use of roller blinds – can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of occupants and their satisfaction with their working environment.

Natural ventilation was also discussed in a session that considered the vexed issues around assessing the effectiveness of natural ventilation systems and accurately modelling the impact of designed systems.

In a lively session from the National Trust, the impact of unintended consequences was discussed as the challenge of improving energy efficiency and the sustainable performance of historic buildings stuffed with artefacts was considered.

Detailed modelling to provide comprehensive predictions was ruled out because of the idiosyncratic nature of the historic buildings. Where else would it have been necessary to consider that introducing conservation heating – to reduce humidity levels – might just be a cause of celebration in the woodworm community?

A constant buzz throughout the day pointed towards animated conversation around the formal seminar sessions and a busy day is predicted tomorrow. Highlights on day two include the most popular single session – on the topic of building simulation. Led by CIBSE Building Simulation Group Vice Chair Professor Darren Woolf of Hoare Lea and Loughborough University the panel will give their overview of this most critical and contentious aspect of building services engineering.

The design of homes for the 21 century is an equally topical issue and a day of discussion on the subject will focus on good practice in the design of new homes, the challenge of retrofit and refurbishment and a consideration of the particular issues around modular and prefabricated house designs.

Alongside a packed schedule of talks, CIBSE also launched its Green Infrastructure Design Challenge, looking for inventive proposals to maximise the use of biodiversity in urban environments. Now in its third year, the challenge always produces thought-provoking solutions and the results of this year’s programme will be announced at Ecobuild in 2018.

To round off the activity for the day, CIBSE also announced the shortlist for the 2018 Building Performance Awards. Now in their eleventh year these hotly contested awards are the only ones to focus on actual measured performance of buildings rather than design intent or performance specifications. With an unusual degree of discussion and debate between the judges, this year’s competition is wide open and the final results, to be announced in February, will be eagerly anticipated.

The Aquatics Centre on the Queen Elizabeth Park, London; a Healthy Office in Warsaw, Poland; and Tower 3 in Melbourne Australia are just some of the buildings to have been shortlisted for the CIBSE Building Performance Awards 2018.

Now in their eleventh year, the Awards recognise the teams, products, innovations, initiatives and projects that demonstrate engineering excellence in the built environment. And they are the only industry Awards that focus on actual, measured performance, rather than design intent or performance specifications.

This year also saw the introduction of a new Learning and Development category to the awards, attracting a varied and interesting range of excellent entries, illustrating the thirst for learning in the sector.

That was not the only category to spark lively debate between the judges on the 15-strong panel, chaired by Hywel Davies, a veteran of the process. He noted that the discussions were “some of the most lively and vigorous” he had seen during the judging process.

With a wide range of high quality entries, the shortlisting decisions were reached only after considerable debate and careful scrutiny of the entries, and Davies said that “all those on the shortlist have demonstrated a significant contribution.

All of which means that the competition for awards is wide open in 2018 and the results will be eagerly anticipated before their announcement at the Awards dinner event on 6 February 2018 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

View the full shortlist

 

Build2Perform Live, the reinvented showcase for the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), will be taking place on 21 and 22 November at London’s Olympia.  Free to attend, including over 20 streams, this ground-breaking event has been designed as a platform proclaiming the influence and impact of building services across all aspects of our working and living environments.

Featuring five theatres presenting topics as diverse as lighting spaces, wellbeing, BIM and digital engineering, natural ventilation and designing homes, the event includes involvement of representatives from CIBSE’s wealth of volunteer groups, 19 CIBSE special interest groups, 5 societies, , and over 50 exhibiting organisations.

It’s set to be a hectic, fast-paced two-day journey through the plethora of subjects touched by building services’ professionals and supply chain and will showcase how profoundly the profession influences every aspect of our lives.

Build2Perform Live is a radical departure for CIBSE, demonstrating the organisation’s commitment to engage with all aspects of the built environment and share its wealth of talent and expertise.

With an audience in excess of 1,500 professionals operating in the sector expected to attend, this is the largest event within its discipline in the UK.  Attendance is free of charge and provides a unique opportunity to develop an understanding of the potential impact of the building services professional in improving our built environment.

For information on the full programme, go to the event website here and book your tickets here.

Guardian Water Treatment and corrosion monitoring experts, Hevasure, will be exhibiting together at this year’s CIBSE Build2Perform. Guardian has recently become an exclusive partner of Hevasures, with the new relationship enhancing Guardian’s industry-leading service. The company can now offer customers unrivalled pre-commissioning cleaning and ongoing water system maintenance, extending usable life and cutting the costs spent on chemicals, consultants and laboratory sampling.

By monitoring the entire system using Hevasure’s 24/7 real-time system during pre-commissioning cleaning, the conditions liable to cause corrosion are caught before they become an issue, ensuring a water system starts its life in the best possible shape. Flushing and the overuse of chemicals is reduced using Hydrosphere’s smart flushing technology, cutting water wastage and improving sustainability.

Beyond pre-commissioning cleaning, Hevasure provides continuous data on a range of parameters, including dissolved oxygen levels, in order to identify potential corrosive and/or other conditions which may lead to inefficiencies and system failure. This approach saves money long-term thanks to better and more informed maintenance regimes, less reliance on expensive laboratory sampling and a reduced risk of breakdown.

Continuous monitoring data also means intensive sampling programmes aren’t required, reducing the need for external consultants – the customer has all the data they require to understand the condition of their water system, and the trends in water quality.

Steven Booth, Associate Director for Guardian Water Treatment, said: “We are extremely excited to be exhibiting at CIBSE Build2Perfom with Hevasure. Becoming its exclusive partner means that our customers can harness the most forward-thinking approach to condition monitoring, helping them to save money long-term and improve the overall running of their water systems. Hydrosphere’s smart flushing technology is also an ideal fit for us, improving the sustainability credentials of pre-commissioning cleaning – historically a very water wasting process – and reducing the damage this process can cause.

“Guardian is committed to delivering a whole-life service, to ensure a water system is working at its optimum from the outset and continues to do so for the longest possible time and in the most efficient and sustainable way. By working with Hevasure our commitment to this aim has been greatly enhanced.”

Visit Guardian and Hevasure on stand: 344.

For more information about Guardian’s pre-commissioning cleaning and general water treatment services, visit: www.gwtltd.com

The greatly anticipated programme for Build2Perform Live has been revealed with over 60 free-to attend sessions delivering high quality content and speakers taking place at London’s Olympia on 21 and 22 November 2017.

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), have reached out to their extensive international network of building performance experts to curate a programme dedicated to helping the supply chain improve efficiency and save money through effective building services.

CIBSE Divisions and Special Interest Groups are hosting 20 half-day streams of engaging and interactive content focusing on the building performance themes of wellbeing, digital engineering, and energy. Delivering case studies, best practice advice and debates that are relevant to both the domestic and non-domestic sectors, attending Build2Perfom Live is essential for anyone that is involved in ensuring buildings perform.

Programme highlights include a substantial focus on wellbeing, with best practice case studies from Cundall and Arup on how to design lighting for user welllbeing, proven strategies for maintaining air quality in buildings, natural ventilation, and an overview of upcoming updates to CIBSE guidance in TM40 on Health and Wellbeing and CIBSE Guide L: Sustainability.
Digital engineering will also take centre stage across the two days with a focus on digital processes that facilitate faster and more accurate design stage work, and how building services construction, commissioning and facilities management has been improved by digital practices.

Build2Perform will also be championing the drive towards greater industry collaboration and the reduction in energy use of buildings, from design through to operation. Sessions on energy include a spotlight on building simulation, procurement, metering, and the important role that facilities managers play post-occupancy.

Playing a key role in Build2Perform Live is CIBSE’s Young Engineers Network. Their stream ‘how to engage better with clients’ features a challenge for participants to work together and generate ideas for moving building performance higher up the priority list for developers.

The CIBSE CPD accredited programme has been carefully curated by  CIBSE DivisionsCIBSE Special Interest Groups and our  Build2Perform Advisory Committee, with specialist speakers invited from across the built environment.

Build2Perform Live, will also include two CIBSE accredited CPD Exhibitor Theatres, with Platinum and Gold exhibitors presenting, and a Headline Theatre with daily keynote addresses (full details will be announced in September).

Peter Y Wong CEng FCIBSE, President of CIBSE, said: “It is very exciting to reveal the programme for what is sure to be one of the biggest and most dynamic events that CIBSE has ever created. Building performance is a fast-moving area of our industry, and we have planned a programme of new and innovative sessions to reflect the pace of that change.
“As chartered engineers we have taken on the responsibility of making sure the work we do is not just highly functional, but also highly sustainable and future-proof. By attending Build2Perform Live, our guests will get a first-hand view of some of the most exciting work being done in the industry, and learn how to apply that best practice to make good engineering great.”
Find out more about Build2Perform Live and register for your free place at http://www.build2perform.co.uk/.

If you are interested in exhibiting or sponsoring CIBSE Build2Perform Live please contact Steve Webb at Step Place Events.

The Build2Perform Live Advisory Committee met on 5th July 2017 for the last time to finalise the free two-day seminar programme.

This year’s programme has been created in collaboration with CIBSE’s four Societies and nineteen Special Interest Groups, and visitors will be able to choose from over twenty streams with three sessions each.

There will also be two additional theatres delivering CIBSE accredited CPD from our Platinum and Gold exhibitors, and a headline theatre.

Seminar programme taster:

  • Building services: Technology update
  • Building simulation
  • CHP & District heating
  • Digital engineering
  • Energy metering best practice
  • Engaging clients with building performance
  • Fire safety
  • Good practice in the design of homes
  • How facilities management supports building performance
  • How to reduce energy unit costs
  • Improving indoor and outdoor Air Quality
  • Lighting and wellbeing
  • Making heritage buildings perform
  • Overheating in homes

Register now and receive priority booking when the programme is launched at the end of July.

2 days, 9 theatres, 20 streams, +25 exhibitors, +300 companies registered

CIBSE have agreed upon a major reinvention and to re-brand the CIBSE Conference & Exhibition in 2017 as Build2Perform Live taking place on the 21 & 22 November 2017 at Olympia, London. The new plans were revealed by CIBSE President, John Field at the at the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Building Performance Awards 2017 this week.

CIBSE have agreed upon a major reinvention and to re-brand the event in 2017 as Build2Perform Live which will offer a bigger exhibition with more interactive features, multiple seminar streams and occupy a whole floor at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre, enabling us to deliver the full range of activities, presentations, formats and subjects required by delegates to extract maximum professional and business value from their visit. The flexible format will allow delegates to tailor their time to take full advantage of the expert presentations which continue to be the ‘heart’ of the event

Key companies have already signed up to support the event including ABB, Apollo-Fire Detectors Ltd, Herz Valves UK Ltd, Lochinvar Ltd, MagiCAD (Progman Software UK Ltd), Monodraught, Pegler Yorkshire Group Ltd, Sauter Automation Ltd, others will be announced over the next few weeks. ‘In total we expect to have 60 exhibitors, 20 Divisions and CIBSE Groups represented, and interaction from CIBSE Young Engineers and Volunteer Groups’ said CIBSE Services Managing Director, Rowan Crowley.

Major features already planned include:

5 Presentation areas offering no fewer than 20 half-day programmes over the two days. The programmes will be developed by CIBSE’s Divisions (Society of Public Health Engineers, Society of Light and Lighting, Society of Façade Engineers, Institution of Local Exhaust Ventilation); Specialist Interest Groups (including Energy Performance, Intelligent Buildings, Natural Ventilation); and Steering Groups, such as the BIM/Digital Steering Group. All programmes will be developed under the guidance of the Editorial Board in order to ensure quality and ‘take away’ value.

2 CPD Theatres will allow Platinum and Gold exhibitors to deliver valuable and specific material to visitors through CIBSE CPD-accredited presentations.

200-seater Headline Theatre for keynote speakers on both days, as well as for Awards presentations scheduled  to be presented at lunch-times and the first evening.

Volunteer Zone: CIBSE has many ‘volunteers; who work tirelessly in Regions, Specialist Interest Groups, Technical Committees, and more. The Zone will provide high quality ‘soft skills’ training designed to assist them in both their professional and volunteer activities: from managing meetings and events, to how to use social media to best effect.

60 exhibition stands: more exhibitors than ever will be invited to showcase the latest technologies and innovations. For the first time, exhibitors will be able to use the event website to invite their clients to pre-book appointments and ensure their time at the show is utilised effectively.

Build2Perform Live is designed to deliver value to both CIBSE members and to the full supply chain with which they work closely.

Full details are available from Steve Webb or Becky MacArthur on 01892 518877 or email: stevewebb@stepex.com

One of the main topics at last week’s CIBSE Building Performance Conference and Exhibition, indoor air quality is fast being recognised as a priority concern in the world of wellbeing. But in a field where marginal gains are everything, being on top of your data is very important Arie Taal from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Hague University has produced research into eliminating faults in HVAC using a BMS

Carbon Dioxide based demand control ventilation (DCV) can reduce heating/cooling loads by up to 30% and fan power consumption by up to 35%.  DCV maintains the CO2 concentration in a room within an appropriate range by adjusting the supply air flowrate.  CO2-based DCV is the most commonly used control method with CO2 sensors installed in the main return air duct.  Nowadays, the increased requirement for smart buildings, combined with a decrease of CO2 sensor prices, has resulted in buildings being equipped with more sensors.

A common issue occurs when one of the CO2 sensors encounters a fault.  This can be down to a lack of maintenance or incorrect sensor placements in rooms.  In a DCV system, a fault can mean that the estimated energy savings and air quality is not guaranteed.  In 1993 the Automatic Background Calibration (ABC) method was developed to calibrate CO2 sensors with the idea that CO2 levels would drop outside normal levels in buildings that are not occupied on weekends or weekday evenings. However, placement of sensors can become a problem as rooms on the inner side of a building or rooms with well-sealed windows may never drop outside of these baseline levels.
Alongside Dr Yang Zhao and Prof Wim Zeiler at the Department of the Built Environment, Eindhoven University in the Netherlands, Mr Taal has been working toward a systematic method of diagnosing faults in CO2 sensors.  Using automatic fault detection, diagnosis and self-correction in CO2 sensors would be a proactive method in air conditioning systems to solve this problem.  The premise of Mr Taal’s study has been to show how the automatic commissioning of CO2 sensors in air conditioning systems is achievable using benchmark values obtained in one of two methods.

In conventional methods, sensor faults are detected by comparing their measurements with benchmark values.  These values can be obtained manually, measured by technicians, or calculated automatically using other available measurements.  The latter is more common because it can be done automatically in the building management system (BMS).  Practical issues arise in air conditioning systems because there are no sensors equipped to measure the CO2 generation rate, CO2 concentration in the supply air and the flow rate of the supply air in m3/s.  In the development of models for CO2 sensor fault detection, the lack of information poses a real challenge.

In an effort to eliminate the threat posed by this lack of information the idea is to perform one of two test methods under specific operating conditions to ascertain the required benchmark levels.

The first is to recycle air without adding any outdoor air for between one and two hours to create 100% return air ventilation.  By closing all windows, doors and fresh air dampers in air handling units the measurements of all CO2 sensors should theoretically be the same.  The second test is full outdoor ventilation, to supply fresh air into the building without any recycling for between one and two hours.  Again, at the end of the time period all of the CO2 sensors should be the same and equal the CO2 concentration of the ambient air.

Faulty sensors will be detected if their readings are different from the assessed benchmark values.  A faulty sensor can be detected if its measurements are obviously higher or lower than other sensors.

In the first method, the degree of fault is then measured from the difference between the defective sensor and the average measurement of the other faultless CO2 sensors. The second compares the faulty sensor reading to the ambient CO2 concentration both looking for a negative or positive bias in CO2 levels when measured against the benchmark.

Self-correction is the final step in the process where all of the information is taken from the faulty sensor for adjustment.  Using the assessment results from the fault diagnosis the CO2 bias can be corrected.  The results of the detection, diagnosis and self-correction will then be reported to technicians for reference.

Together with his team, Mr Taal produced a simulation of their works on the first floor of a school building at The Hague University in Delft.  In their experiment, nine rooms were used with a CO2-based DCV applied to control the amount of supply air to each room in order to keep the CO2 measurements within the benchmark.  Separate experiments were conducted to simulate different conditions. The first simulates a fault free operation and a second introduces faulty sensors to show the impacts of automatic fault detection system.

Using two operating methods to obtain CO2 benchmarks, 100% return air ventilation and full outdoor air ventilation; faulty sensors can be detected, diagnosed and self-corrected using a BMS.  From the simulations, results show that after 45 minutes there are obvious differences between functional sensors and those that are faulty.  After an hour and a half the positive or negative bias can be accurately measured.

Theoretically, the proposed methods are effective ways to detect faulty CO2 sensors, effectively diagnoses the state of failure and to automatically remove the fault.  The ability to automatically detect, diagnose and repair faults is vital to the effective running of DCV systems.

The performance gap is the big problem of our times in the building services industry, and hundreds of column inches are devoted to products created to fix it each year. Ahead of his presentation at the CIBSE Conference Casey Cole, Managing Director of Guru Systems, presents an alternative view: That process, not technology, is the answer  

New buildings in the UK consume far more energy than predicted by their designers – up to 10 times more according to an Innovate UK study. This performance gap doesn’t arise because we lack technology. Studies by the UKGBC and others conclude that it’s the result of failings throughout the project life-cycle, from concept to handover.

Performance gaps may arise because clients are unclear about what they want; project teams don’t understand the impact of their design choices; contractors substitute products and materials on the fly and then install them poorly; or quality assurance is lax, with employers’ agents either blind to the problems or willing to let shoddy work escape their net.

There’s no doubt about it – we’ve got trouble right here in the UK building industry. But innovation on its own won’t solve the problem. The Internet of Things isn’t coming to the rescue. Because the performance gap isn’t a technology problem – it’s a problem of people, information and accountability.

That’s a sobering realisation, because we’ve all drunk the same Silicon-Valley-brand of neoliberal Kool-Aid. We know that given the right market signals, some whizzy new technology that no one has yet thought of will appear and address any problem you can name: from climate change to… well, to the performance gap.

But not this time. Any purely technological solution would simply be papering over the cracks in our poorly functioning buildings, cracks that were put there by project teams.

There’s a positive side to our realisation: if we don’t need new technologies to close the performance gap, then we already have the tech we need. Indeed, I think we do. But, that technology must be used to empower clients, engineers and all of us on the project team to do our jobs better. Here’s how:

The first step is to collect data from existing buildings. Organisations like CBx, Digital Catapult and Guru Systems, the company where I work, are already doing this. This data is being collected from utility meters (e.g. smart meters and heat meters), building energy management systems and other monitoring systems. By analysing this data, we can understand which factors have the biggest influence on performance.

We can then set clear performance requirements and explicit means of measuring them. These must be measurable before the building reaches practical completion, while the people who can put it right are still on site. It’s no use specifying kWh/m2/annum or any other target that can only be calculated once the building is occupied. By the time they can be measured, the project team will have long since moved on. So, we must define requirements for the characteristics that are measurable before occupation and that lead to good performance in operation.

Most importantly, clients must make performance requirements contractual. Those clear, measurable objectives must be written into the invitation to tender and then into contract. The lead contractor and the rest of the delivery team must know from the outset what’s expected of them (and that they’ll be held accountable for achieving it). We have a number of clients that have now adopted this approach for heat networks and they’ve shown that, once it’s contractual, everyone’s incentives align and the gap between expectation and outcome closes.

Casey Cole is speaking on ‘Are you ready for a digital future?’ at the CIBSE Building Performance Conference on Thursday, November 17 from 10:25am to 11:20am.