Not your average anniversary

Terry Sharp reflects on some of the BCIA’s activities in a year that marked 30 years since its formation.


With Christmas suddenly just around the corner the mind wanders back to about a year ago when we were all preparing for what has ultimately become known as the ‘Zoom’ Christmas as the country went back into lockdown. It was of course heart-breaking for so many families who were hoping to be together having been kept apart for so much of the year, but it was the only viable option to keep everybody as safe as possible.

The successful roll-out of the vaccinations has given us all some cause for optimism this year and although recent figures show we are far from being out of the woods yet, it has been pleasing to see public venues occupied again. This of course meant we were able to enjoy the BCIA Awards in September and the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA) Annual Lunch in November.

The BCIA also made its first trade show appearance since the lifting of lockdown restrictions at the Smart Buildings Show at ExCeL, London. It gave many companies the chance to showcase their latest innovations and catch up with industry colleagues. I also took part in a very interesting panel discussion alongside BCIA Vice-President Graeme Rees, Peter Behan of Group Horizon, the BCIA’s official training partner, and Andy Reakes from the Joint Industry Board. The discussion, titled ‘The Smart Buildings of the Future – why we need to start planning for them now’, focused on commercial buildings and what makes them smart and considered the issues surrounding the need for continued training and competency frameworks to ensure that the next generation of building controls engineers have the right skills to deliver true smart buildings in the future. Discussions such as these really help keep the BCIA’s finger on the pulse of what is going on in the sector and how we can contribute to its evolution.


Goodbye Roger

In March we said goodbye to Roger Borer who retired as the BCIA’s Executive Officer after four years in the role, and welcomed George Lee in as his replacement. Roger has been a tremendous asset to the BCIA during his time here and I am incredibly thankful to him for his hard work in helping us to meet our key aims and objectives.



2021 was of course a very significant year for the BCIA as we celebrated 30 years since the formation of the Building Controls Group (BCG) that later evolved into the BCIA. To celebrate we created an infographic detailing some of the key technological landmarks that have occurred since 1991. We also spoke to two BCIA members, Roger Woodward and George Belfield, each at different stages in their respective careers, about how the life of a young Building Controls Engineer now compares to 30 years ago.


First class

On the subject of the next generation of engineers, it was great to see the first cohort of BCIA apprentices starting their BEMS Controls Engineer Apprenticeship with Group Horizon. The feedback from the programme has so far been excellent. Isabel Lamb, BEMS Controls Engineer Apprentice at AIMTEQ, said: “I have always been fascinated about engineering and enjoy problem solving. With the course and the support from Group Horizon and BCIA, I have found the modules both interesting and challenging.”

Applications for the second cohort recently closed and once again it is fully booked up. Further dates will be announced soon and it is fantastic to see such excitement about our industry from people like Isabel.


Look to the future

In November we hosted our Autumn Members’ Meeting at Moor Hall Hotel, which provided members with a first-hand practical briefing on recruitment and retention of new and trainee engineers in a tight labour market, as well as an update on the BCIA’s plans for 2022 and beyond.

Next year looks just as busy for the BCIA and we are keeping our fingers crossed that there will be less disruption than what we’ve dealt with in the last couple of years. Our first BCIA Annual Conference will take place on 5th May 2022, with the BCIA Awards Dinner to follow in the evening. We are developing a comprehensive member resource pack to help our members engage with schools, colleges, and universities to help recruit the brightest and best into the sector. This will help interested businesses target high performing students in their communities to come and work in the sector. We are also developing a new Members Area on the BCIA website which will provide additional resources to support member businesses and their employees.


I wish everybody a safe and Happy Christmas and I’ll hopefully see some of you in the New Year.