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Engineers encouraged to seize future opportunities

A rousing opening presentation by the ASHRAE President Tim Wentz called on engineers to embrace the potential of technology to deliver more comfortable and effective buildings. Opening the second day of the CIBSE ASHRAE Technical Symposium at Loughborough University, Wentz emphasised the dramatic changes that are being driven by digital technologies.

Referring to what he believes is an imminent ‘golden age’ for engineering, Tim Wentz listed psychology and its role in occupant satisfaction as being a growing area for building services engineers to occupy as traditional disciplines are increasingly taken over by computers.

Tim Wentz ASHRAE President Tim Wentz ASHRAE President

With computers capable of more processing power than all of humanity predicted to exist by 2050, Tim Wentz encouraged engineers to embrace the opportunity to build better buildings than ever before in a ‘built environment renaissance’. This theme was reflected in other presentations which assessed the potential of digital engineering. Tom Lawrence from the University of Georgia demonstrated the potential of sophisticated demand response tools to lower energy use whilst increasing thermal comfort and without triggering any adverse feedback from occupiers

John Field, President of CIBSE, said: “It is an exciting time to be an engineer as technology changes our profession right before our eyes. We need to be prepared to embrace new ideas and techniques as they develop to take full advantage of their potential.

“Events like the Technical Symposium show us what is possible by giving a platform to some of the best engineering minds at the top of their fields, and by allowing us all to swap and share ideas that may result in the next big advances in the future.”

Retrofitting of existing buildings was a major topic on the second day of the Symposium, with a variety of case studies presented that demonstrated lessons learned in a diverse range of situations. Marianne Heaslip of Carbon Coop presented on delivering building performance in the context of a Manchester housing retrofit. Sergio Fox of AWE made the case for simplicity in system design over added technology and Abdullahi Ahmed demonstrated lessons from a low-energy retrofit at Coventry University. 

For new projects, Haniyeh Mohammadpourkarbasi of BCM and Liverpool John Moores University described how life cycle costing using the British Standard toolkit had yielded a significant cost saving from improved fabric and envelope design and specification which reduced the heating requirements and met the new GLA energy plan requirements.

The final session focussed on how technology affects the way we work. Jonathan Atkinson of Carbon Co-op encouraged the audience to consider a smart city less as a top-down planned approach and more of a collaborative, open source system. Michael Wigington of J Dunton Associates talked on cyber security as a component of building resilience. Ashley Bateson of Hoare Lea concluded the Symposium with a lively call for engineer’s to consider their role in promoting the wellbeing of building occupiers.

The Symposium Awards, selected by delegates, went to Sergio Fox of AWE for most effective delivery of a presentation, and Ashley Bateson of Hoare Lea for best contribution to the art and science of building services engineering.

Symposium Award Winners: Ashley Bateson, Hoare Lea (left), Sergio Fox, AWE (right) Symposium Award Winners: Ashley Bateson, Hoare Lea (left), Sergio Fox, AWE (right)