Good COP and good news

BCIA President Graeme Rees takes a look back at COP27 that took place in November last year, and highlights some very positive BCIA news stories.

I am writing this blog following a very warm and sunny February weekend when I was able to turn off the heating, and wash two years of dust and grime off the bike and actually get out for a cycle ride! Warmer temperatures will have provided some relief for households and businesses wanting to limit their spending. Looking at the bigger picture, however, the importance of slowing down climate change and achieving Net Zero remains as high as ever and I took some time to reflect on some of the discussions that took place at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in November. Incidentally, COP27 marked the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, making it a similar age to the BCIA itself!

Shifting gears

When urging relevant parties and groups to focus on reaching a successful outcome in negotiations to advance climate commitments, COP President Sameh Shoukry said that it was time to “shift gears and complement the technical discussions with more political, high-level engagement”. The “shift gears” analogy got me wondering what sort of action we can take this year to do more to effect positive change and take the building controls industry to new heights, as a sector, as organisations and as individuals. I do fear too many are simply standing still and are awaiting the action from others or to be directed what to do as if it is somebody else’s problem. Yet if we all took some actions, however small, in both work and personal life it would make a huge positive difference.

There has of course been some gear shifting in the Government and time will tell if the Prime Minister’s recent decision to disband the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and replace it with three new departments; the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero; the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology; the Department for Business and Trade, will be a success. Hopefully, with the aim being clearly focused on Net Zero, it will bring with it a clearer strategy for positive environmental change and with that an opportunity to illustrate the huge contribution building controls can make.

Success stories

There has been some very encouraging developments for the BCIA, firstly as training provider Group Horizon announced that more than 100 apprentices have now registered for the Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) Controls Engineer Apprenticeship since it was launched in April 2021. The BCIA has long recognised that there has been a significant gap in skills and the apprenticeship was designed to help fill that gap and to have more than 100 people enrolled on the programme already represents a fantastic success on the part of the employer group that put it together.

Secondly, I am delighted at how the Young Engineers Network (YEN) has flourished since being established in April last year. At a meeting held on 7th December, members of the YEN came together to discuss the future ambitions for the group. A number of themes came forward, including how the Network can influence change and innovation in the industry, encouraging diversity and best practice in talent attraction and retention, combining site visits with learning outcomes, inspiring people on the career pathways and variety of roles that exist in the BEMS arena. It’s also a great step forward for the YEN to have appointed Greg Smith and Abbie Bewley as Chair and Vice Chair respectively. I look forward to seeing the YEN flourish under the leadership of two highly engaged and passionate individuals who I am sure will thrive in their roles.