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Respect and collaboration will be as much a part of his CIBSE presidency as technical matters, Andy Ford tells Ewen Rose


he new CIBSE president believes in collaboration. Building services engineers often see themselves leading the process for

decarbonising buildings, but Andy Ford believes the industry has to change. ‘We can lead the integration but we can’t lead the whole process,’ he says. ‘We know how buildings physically

interact with human senses and we have methodologies to quantify and predict this; that knowledge is our greatest business asset and our most saleable commodity, but the scale of the task facing us is unprecedented and the burden has to be shared.’ The word ‘respect’ comes up a lot in conversation with Ford, who is technical director at engineering group Mott MacDonald. He is a fi rm believer in respecting people, getting beyond prejudice to understand what they can contribute. Respecting each other’s expertise,

to achieve our ambitions,’ says Ford. ‘Share what we know and how it can be applied, and our status as engineers will rise.’ Respect for others creates a desire to share knowledge with ‘adjacent’ professions, who are equally focused on the challenge to de- carbonise buildings. ‘Our profession was the only one thinking

about building behaviour and performance for years – so we have an advantage over everyone else who is now concerned with this area,’ he says. ‘Now our task is to get better at explaining our understanding and at evolving our solutions.’

Comfort zone The problem is that, for most of those years, the industry was thinking about making sure buildings satisfi ed peak demands; a different mind-set will be needed to reduce that demand, he says. ‘For the Greater Comfort of Mankind keeps coming into my

We know really useful things, and that knowledge is our greatest business asset and our most saleable commodity


knowledge and ambitions will be key to delivering the low carbon agenda, he says. ‘Throughout my career I have heard

people in the construction and property industry make snide remarks about architects, engineers, contractors, and consultants – all of which are simply based upon prejudice. These are self-perpetuating, and become embedded very early in the teaching and training process. They compromise effective team-building and problem-solving. They must end.’ He wants a more inclusive CIBSE, with

people from wider backgrounds and skills encouraged to aim for chartered engineer status. ‘Respect brings diversity, and we need a much more diverse industry if we are

mind. We have raised people’s expectations for comfort; now we have to keep delivering a comfortable world, but only using 10% or 20% of the energy.’ He believes that building services engineers are being challenged to move out of their ‘comfort zone’ and must ditch some of their favourite rules of thumb – and that our understanding of building physics and psychology is as important as building services. ‘The old rules no longer apply. We have

to stop being obsessed with brand new non-domestic buildings and focus on all buildings. The refurbishment task ahead is on an unprecedented scale – we don’t really know how big it is – and the overhaul of

July 2011 CIBSE Journal 27

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