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30 September 2014: Community Engagement

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CIBSE HCNW joined with Transition Town Letchworth in a community "ask the experts" event. Letchworth townsfolk quizzed an architect, a building services engineer, an energy efficiency expert, a grants expert and an environmentalist about improving their homes. Several CIBSE Members in the audience had travelled up from town specially and were able to add much-appreciated ideas.


A great mixture of practical observations and design - we even drew a wall construction since one of the biggest issues in Letchworth is how to improve solid-walled heritage property. Almost all of Letchworth is covered by Design Principles, because a house of any age is effectively a listed building. CIBSE Member Chris Jones submitted a strategy document to the Foundation three years ago, with ideas for energy initiatives, and this event was one of them.


Among the answers: Marco Bertolini explained how a heat pump works; Arnold Gilpin explained about managing ventilation in houses; Peter Bates reviewed the Green Deal and EPCs; Peter Chisnall reviewed a district heating solution to solid walls and heritage; Chris Jones explained legionnella risks in water services and the tell-tale offered by cobwebs in finding draughts.


Tessa Palfreyman, a civil engineer in the Transition Town congratulated HCNW on a stimulating and successful evening. Feedback forms show that the townsfolk gained a much better understanding of what building services engineers and architects do, and after the discussions, were much more aware of technical risks.   

Michael Underwood, the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation governor briefed with Sustainable Development has asked HCNW to repeat the formula with a wider town audience with full support from the Heritage Foundation.

HCNW has also been approached by Transition Cambridge and we got two articles about this joint event into The Comet newspaper.

Another similar "Ask the Experts" is lined up with Transition Town Berkhamstead this year.

Much appreciation to CIBSE Members Robin Williams, Xohan Duran and Peter Little for travelling up and bringing their expertise - and of course to our excellent panellists Peter Bates, Arnold Gilpin, Marco Bertolini and Peter Chisnall. Thanks.