CIBSE webinar chaired by Jon Belfield triggers skills gap discussion

Jon Belfield, Immediate Past President of the BCIA, chaired a CIBSE #GrowYourKnowledge webinar on 30 July 2020, titled “Building Controls: What? Why? How?”. The webinar was given by committee members of the recently re-invigorated CIBSE IT & Controls Group: Peter McDermott – Mott MacDonald; Tom Hopton – Buro Happold; and Tom Randall – Arup.

The webinar provided an overview of the basic concepts of building controls and their practical implementation, why they are essential to building performance and delivering a wide range of benefits and value.

From the 500+ who tuned in there was considerable interest in the ‘art of building automation’ and the quality of the questions posed was matched by the three very knowledgeable panellists.

There was a particular theme related to the ‘skills gap’ that triggered a discussion about the opportunity for people to gain these skills under the imminent BEMS Trailblazer, but also acknowledged that skills already out there will be recognised and will become ‘visible’ when engineers of all ages measure their skillset against the BEMS Trailblazer Standard and acquire the qualification.

Another aspect of this ‘skills gap’ discussion was raised by Tom Randall from Ove Arup when he explained occasions where the skills that BEMS engineers already have were not being tapped in to and there was no incentive for these to be brought to the fore. The example he gave was a site where during a post occupancy discussion with the BEMS engineer about more energy efficient methods of controlling the plant, the BEMS engineer pulled up strategy on the laptop to show sites where this had successfully been done previously but there had been no incentive or motivation to bring this expert knowledge into play on this particular project. This is a real opportunity for the supply chain and part of ‘bringing BEMS out of the shadows’ so that the drive for best practice is constantly pursued, it is shared and made available, and most importantly these skills and this knowledge become standard practice.

Jon Belfield said: “Chairing this CIBSE webinar really opened my eyes to the interest and knowledge in BMS from the CIBSE Membership. There is a genuine desire in the CIBSE IT & Controls Group to do BEMS better and get buildings performing better. The BCIA has a real opportunity to continue to be part of this ‘Grow Your Knowledge’ process and work with CIBSE to ensure that the value a well designed BEMS brings to a building does not get diminished along the way, but enhanced whenever possible!”