Jon Belfield, President of the Building Controls Industry Associaon (BCIA), discusses the changes that we are making with our relaonship with energy, the role that BMS and Building Services Engineers can play and how we can each engage with the soluons

n my two years as BCIA President we have quickly moved from it being almost impossible to make any reference to climate change and the required changes to the direction of travel, to the position we are in now where there is a clamour for action. This is incredibly positive and presents some real opportunities for change. Targets seem to be announced almost daily at the moment for something to be achieved by 2025 or 2030 or 2050 and with these milestones now set for reducing waste on building sites, achieving carbon neutral or reducing car usage, whatever the target, strategies and actions can now follow to achieve them.

As a result, there is a terrific opportunity for us to act collectively and make changes to reduce energy consumption and manage energy better. It doesn’t matter how small these changes are, it is about creating the habit and the significant impact of many small wins. In this new climate of openness and collaboration that is being led by our young engineers, we can also benefit from reporting and sharing the changes we make so we can be seen as a sector of industry that isn’t just talking about change, but actually making change and nudging the energy agenda in the right direction. Let me give you an interesting example of a request received in recent months for a multi-storey office fitted with a significant number of heating and cooling 4-pipe fan coil units: “We would like the summer room setpoint at 21˚C and the winter room setpoint at 23˚C, please advise when these changes can be made.” Potentially, this is a tricky situation as the customer can actually demand what they want; it is they who pay for the work to be done and they

also pay for the energy. There is no law against energy inefficient settings such as this and their priority is on the comfort, wellbeing and productivity of their staff which isn’t unreasonable as this is key to keeping their business successful. Equally, I could easily make the case that my responsibility is to provide a BMS engineer to give them what they ask for. This example highlights the corporate/social and personal responsibility conundrum. There will be many views out there ranging from “do as they ask” on one side to “just say no” on the other. Perhaps as part of the bigger picture we have a role to play to communicate understandable connections between situations such as this and achieving the targets that are being set. Perhaps there is a parallel challenge to promote the ownership of these “targets” as being everybody’s and not someone else’s, such as governments. If I turn this thermostat up and leave it turned up, energy will be consumed and CO2 emitted – will this become a conscious connection that, in time, each of us will make? Perhaps this is the change in our relationship with energy that we seek.

Challenge and opportunity

As for what we can do as professional building services engineers, this presents both a real challenge and a real opportunity for us to make everything we do as efficient as possible and help raise awareness about energy use at work, home or anywhere as being part of the journey to achieving these targets.

The BCIA held a joint event with the CIBSE FM group in November and these professional partnerships will become increasingly important in


The opportunity to act collectively to reduce energy consumption I

changing the way we control buildings and manage energy so that BEMS really live up to the acronym and deliver Building Energy Management Systems that are constantly reviewed and tuned to do just that – manage the energy in buildings.

Our sector is awash with innovation and creativity when it comes to tackling technical issues related to building automation and I know that the BSEE is keen to be more than a journal for reporting the latest developments and advances in our industry. If you have ideas on how we can collectively improve the connection between anyone who occupies a building, their behaviour or use of that building and the energy consumed by that building, please share your ideas because once we all realise that the small changes we all make become normal, the big changes will follow. To paraphrase our new illustrious leader, “Tackling Climate Change – let’s get it done!”

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