Late Spring 2017

Sat Apr 22 2017 23:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Late Spring 2017

Agile Presentation
On 15th February I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with Ian Ellison of 3 Edges. We presented at an ASHRAE UK Midlands Technical Seminar held in the Cantor Building of Sheffield Hallam University. 

The evening focused on the user-centric design of buildings but coming at it from two opposing ends. Ian kicked off with a look at how the Facilities Management industry is re-shaping its thinking to address the requirements of users as customers, as opposed to the norms of preventative predictive maintenance (PPM).  He argued that it's workspace plus the addition of people and organisational culture that serve to make a workplace.  That said, the addition of the social dynamic makes things a tad more complex to plan for. So, to get around this FM managers need to acquire some new skills. They need to realise the perspective of FM managers as the operator is entirely different to that of users who have different requirements in getting through a typical day. Also and perhaps more importantly, how users interpret the quality of the space has as much to do with the culture of the organisation as the quality of the building systems, so more needs to be done to smooth the cultural challenges as well as operational ones.

Picking up from this thought-provoking perspective, I looked at how designers need to be more aware of taking on board the views of users.  As designers, we have got used to the language of building performance, but we have forgotten what buildings are for.  User’s of buildings don’t need to have high-performance levels; they want high “effectiveness” levels.  Users want effectiveness, not performance. Effectiveness comes in part from ownership of the design, which of itself comes with the trust of the organisation they are part in allowing them to be co-designers. And so we are back to this cultural theme again.  It seems great buildings are the product of great designers, working for clients who want to use the building to improve the culture of their organisation and vice versa.

A full copy of my presentation is opposite

Health and Wellbeing starts at Home
We are pleased to have been asked to take on the Sustainability and Health and Well Being Advisory role for a new NPPF Paragraph 55 home in the South East of England. Paragraph 55 refers to the paragraph in the National Planning Policy Framework, which mandates that homes build in the countryside or on greenbelt land must ––be truly outstanding or innovative, helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas.

Our first thought on wellbeing was to see if we could have the new residence accepted for certification under International Well Building Institute (IWBI). Initial inquiries are not looking good. It does, however, look like we will be able to follow another route which is Residential Luxury Signature Wellness Programme.

The new to UK Signature Wellness residence standard will include four core wellness principles around air, water, light and sleep.  Specific features incorporated into the property:

Air purification systems: advanced filtration methodologies will protect indoor air quality by removing allergens, toxins, pathogens, pollen and other pollutants from the air.

Water filtration systems: best-in-class water filtration technologies will be incorporated to monitor mains water for trace chemicals and minerals.

Circadian Lighting: advanced indoor lighting techniques will be added to each unit to promote alignment with the body’s natural circadian rhythm, helping to improve energy, mood, productivity and sleep quality. Recent research has shown that light receptor at the back of the human eye influences and regulates our bodily rhythms, providing the cerebral messages to keep our sleep-wake cycle aligned each day. Well-designed combinations of daylighting and artificial light can provide an optimal lighting environment helping us to better concentration by day and sleep at night.

Other areas of focus include Food, Exercise, Materials, and Pest Control.

In addition to the health and wellbeing aspects of the design, we are also heading up the formulation the sustainability and low carbon strategy for the home. Code for Sustainable Homes level 5 or equivalent is the first target, zero carbon if we think we can get there. All decided once we have established some operational in use benchmarks set for us by dynamic simulation with a virtual model of the building.

Papering over the Cracks in the Housing Market
On 7th February, Government issued its Housing White Paper with the strap line “Fixing our broken housing market. I was pleased to lead the composition of a response to the consultation from the Sheffield City Region Sustainability Partnership.  You will find a copy of our response at the following link.

The broken housing market is the central thrust, a failure that is worsening with time despite government intervention. Recent studies reveal the market is characterised by a few big builders with a market strategy to swallow up the smaller ones’ whole, gobbling up all of the land and most of the government money moving through first-time buyer incentives.  The industry needs drastic action to fix what everyone agrees is a poor prognosis for the future.  One which does nothing to improve the image of construction industry more widely, other than to brand it as wholly unfit for any purpose outside of making shareholder and land market speculators that bit richer.

ASHRAE/CIBSE Technical Symposium
In early April I attended the CIBSE ASHRAE Technical Symposium with two hats. One as a delegate, and one as ASHRAE UK Midlands Section President. In the latter role, I was pleased to meet our current global president Tim Wentz, Chief Executive Jeff Littleton, and future president Bjarne Olesen who takes up the reins on 1st July.

Tim, Jeff, Bjarne and Sub-Region B Chair Ken Goodman helped us to launch our first UK Midlands Student Group which is based at Loughborough University. Members of the group will have access to the wealth of networking opportunities with peers around the globe, as well as opportunities for close mentorship with our senior membership here in the UK.  Any students interested in forming a group at your university in the UK, do get in touch with me via my contact page.

As for the Technical Symposium, the highlight for me was the last talk of Day 2 given by Ashley Bateson of Hoare Lea titled Designing Buildings as is People Mattered. His plea for engineers to become more “emotionally literate” in design, to think about users especially their health and wellbeing in buildings. As building services engineers we know most of what there is to know about ventilation, air pollution and contamination, lighting, daylighting, acoustics, and how buildings interface with people. If there is a professional design discipline that understands the effects of buildings on the health well-being and productivity of building users, it is the buildings services engineer.

As a corollary to Ashley’s fine presentation, I would add that we need to go the whole hog and call ourselves Building Performance Consultants, embracing in our training the sociological and human factors aspects of human comfort and contentment with internal environments, something I have been advocating for some time now.

My term as ASHRAE President twilight days
My term as ASHRAE President will conclude at the end of June. I am pleased that under my tenure the ASHRAE UK Midlands Section has continued to strengthen its roots in the UK and the Midlands region. Our membership has increased by 28% in the time since we formed. We have held nine major presentation events, and our biggest and who to say perhaps best is yet to come on May 17th at the 400 seater Millennium Point in Birmingham. The whole day event titled - BIM and Building Simulation Day will feature our ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer Dennis Knight coming to us from Charleston South Carolina to give his perspective of advances MEP BIM from a United States perspective. Supporting Dennis, we have invited the leading developers in MEP BIM and Simulation in the UK to give their view on where they are now, and where the development of software tools for engineers and architects is going. It all makes for what should be an interesting event. Tickets are still available here and free to both CIBSE and ASHRAE members.

Awards Season is upon us.
Awards season is upon us during the summer, and once again my services are in demand to help with the judging on a number of panels. I kick off in the next week or so with the Yorkshire and Humber Construction Excellence Awards.  Last year we were successful in picking out regional projects that went on to win at the national awards in London. Early indications are that the quality of submissions is just as high this year, so we are optimistic we will repeat our success in 2017.

Next on my list will be Insider News Yorkshire Awards, then later in the summer, I will move on to CIBSE Yorkshire Awards.  The CIBSE Yorkshire Awards were a huge success last year, and credit to its chairman Simon Owen who took the brave step to depart from the usual Annual Dinner with after dinner speaker format, for the organisation and effort sapping Awards Gala format. It has proved to be an inspired decision and one which I feel will bring an even greater level of success to the awards evening in November, raising the standing and profile of the profession to boot by showcasing our great projects. Closing date for entries is 12th May so best get a move on if you are intending on getting an entry in. More details here .

Do let me have your comments on any of the above.

Enjoy the Bank Holiday