Outgoing association president Terry Sharp says UK lockdowns have served to highlight the need for better collaboration between controls specialists and facilities managers

Lockdowns introduced early in the Covid-19 pandemic have put a vital spotlight on the issue of building performance and efficiency, the outgoing Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) president argues.

Terry Sharp, who took up the presidency of the building energy management system trade body during the early stages of the pandemic in March 2020, said he hoped important lessons can still be learnt from the lockdown disruption about how buildings and key systems should operate.

The design and performance of heat and ventilation systems and how they are being managed has come under significant scrutiny during the pandemic, especially as the government announced a range of new standards and amendments to the Building Regulations that are set to be introduced.

Building engineers have therefore played a vital role in opening up properties following the UK lockdowns that saw a number of public, commercial and office buildings being closed for significant periods of time.

Mr Sharp said, “With so many commercial buildings being left largely unoccupied, it really gave an insight into how unprepared many businesses were in terms of managing their premises efficiently during these periods and in general.”

“This has underlined the importance of good communication between facilities managers and controls specialists to ensure a building is performing to its maximum efficiency as well as serving the needs of its occupants.”

Mr Sharp added that he had assumed the presidency of the organisation shortly before the UK introduced its first lockdown that led to a period of unprecedented challenges for many industries such as building engineering and construction.

These challenges involved having to rethink the way certain key aspects of the BCIA’s work is delivered, for example moving training courses online as well as other events conducted in person.

Despite these challenges, Mr Sharp said that the BCIA had been able to introduce its Level 4 Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) Controls Engineer Apprenticeship over the course of the pandemic to help address the importance of upskilling and training.

The apprenticeship is intended to combine sufficient levels of technical training and job assessment for aspiring engineers to allow them to support more effective and efficient building control systems.

Mr Sharp said of the apprentice programme, “Its official launch in April 2021 was the result of more than four years of hard work by the Trailblazer Employer Group, which included a number of BCIA members. I believe this apprenticeship programme will go a long way in responding to the sector’s skills shortage and heralds a bright future for the industry.”

The BCIA will be joining H&V News for its 2022 Better Buildings Summit that is taking place online on 29 March.

Graeme Rees, the association’s vice president, will take part in a panel discussion looking at how HVAC systems and building controls can better be implemented in the design stages of building projects.

He will be joined on the expert panel by Anni Folan-White from Ingleton Wood and Fiona Hughes from Element Energy.

You can read more about the summit and how to sign up here.



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