Challenge and reward

Terry Sharp discusses the BCIA’s training courses BCM01-03 and the career options they can open up in the building controls sector.

Whenever an impressive new building appears on our landscape, whether it’s a stadium, tower or a new shopping centre, it is usually the architects who grab the headlines. But you don’t need to be an architect to be involved in the most exciting building projects of the future. In fact, you will probably find more of the interesting stuff hidden behind the exterior walls. It should not be forgotten that buildings are a lot more complex than just walls, roofs and windows. The technology that goes into buildings now is more advanced than ever, and modern legislation and environmental targets have made good building management a priority. And it’s not always about new-builds either. There are a lot of challenges in modernising old buildings and making them fit for purpose in the 21st century, but aren’t the challenges all part of the fun? So, if you want to know more about how you can become a part of a diverse and stimulating industry, then read on!

There are many professions available in the Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) industry, and in 2021, what the BCIA is promoting as its “Year of Training”, we are highlighting some of the pathways into the industry. The BCIA offers a full suite of training courses which are designed for those wishing to upskill or start their journey as a Building Controls Engineer.

BCM01, for example, gives an overview of Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) industry and the systems and technologies used in the control of heating, ventilating and air conditioning, while BCM02 offers comprehensive training on the theory of measuring and control technology and is designed for engineers and technicians who have some knowledge and field experience. BCM03 involves the main water circuits and systems used within the building services controls environment. This course includes the necessary mechanical knowledge needed to understand applications and covers all aspects of valve sizing and control.

Anybody who completes these three courses will be awarded a BCIA Technical Certificate and become eligible for the Building Controls Integrator ECS card provided the applicant also holds a formal BS7671 qualification in the current edition of the wiring regulations (currently BS7671: 2008, 18th edition) as well as a current (up to date) Health & Safety Certificate or recognised ECS H&S exemption. The Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) is the sole ID and competence card scheme for electrotechnical operatives in the UK. ECS cards are issued by the Joint Industry Board (JIB) as a way to recognise and verify the competency of electrotechnical operatives working in the UK. The Building Controls Integrator ECS card is designed to meet the need for the growing body of controls engineers to gain appropriate recognition for the skills they have acquired.

The ECS’s recently launched online Remote Invigilation service helpfully allows candidates to undertake the ECS HSE Assessment and the BCM01, 02 and 03 exams remotely to gain accreditation for the Building Controls Integrator card. Remote Invigilation is a way that allows delegates to take a formal ECS assessment without having to travel to a centre for an invigilator to monitor their behaviour in person while taking a test. Instead, automated online monitoring software using an artificial intelligence program is used to verify the identity of the person taking the assessment and then used to constantly monitor the delegate and record their exam performance.

Whether it’s new builds or retrofit projects the controls industry has a huge number of exciting projects to offer. The next generation of engineers will be the key drivers in evolving technologies to create a more environmentally friendly building landscape for tomorrow. The training courses mentioned here could be the first step on the way to a long and exciting career.