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Full house at the CIBSE Technical Symposium

A full house at the CIBSE Technical Symposium was welcomed this morning by CIBSE Vice-President Tadj Oreszczyn, who introduced the challenges facing building services engineers over the next 50 years. In particular he highlighted the importance of making buildings nearly zero carbon to help meet the challenges caused by a minimum 2°C rise in temperature due to climate change has become more important than ever.

Oreszczyn, who is also Director of the Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources at UCL, the Symposium’s 2015 host, described how the new greenhouse gas emissions targets, such as those due to be agreed in UN climate talks in Paris in December this year, make 2015 a critical year for setting the trajectory for cutting carbon emissions for the remainder of the century. 

The task of making buildings nearly zero carbon is an easier challenge than to adapt to a climate rise of 2 degrees.

Tadj Oreszczyn, CIBSE Vice-President

Emphasising the enormity of the task we face, he stated: ‘The task of making buildings nearly zero carbon is an easier challenge than to adapt to a climate rise of 2 degrees.’

He also emphasised the requirement to deliver research at a faster pace to help achieve these targets, but also the need to put this research into practice. The built environment panel of the government’s recent Research Excellence Framework identified a ‘performance gap’ where much of £220 million spent in the UK over five years on research into the built environment research is not making an impact in practice. This theme is also expected to emerge in the forthcoming report by The Edge Commission on the Future of the Professions which is expected to identify a key role for professional institutions to bridge this gap. This is also a key aim of the Technical Symposium, which seeks to bring researchers and practitioners together to share research and best practice as well as case studies from current practice.

Hosted by UCL which is celebrating 50 years of teaching and researching environmental design and engineering, the Technical Symposium brings together 200 attendees with an interest in building performance, for a packed 2-day schedule featuring over 50 presentations, poster sessions and debates.

Other highlights of day one included:

  • Sergio Fox, Architecture without Engineers, from Denmark, introduced the Symposium theme of simple buildings, better buildings by showing how design in Denmark since 2010 had seen a ‘back to basics’ approach, resulting in a reduction in the country’s energy consumption.
  • Dane Virk, UCL doctoral student sponsored by CIBSE, described the methodology and results used to select potential new Design Summer Year locations for Manchester and Birmingham reflecting the fact that existing data did not reflect the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect in these cities.
  • A presentation by Malcolm Hanna of the National Energy Foundation on energy labelling of buildings, which stimulated a very lively discussion on energy benchmarks and the presentation of operational energy data in the commercial sector.  
  • A range of presentations exploring how Building Information Modelling (BIM) can be used to drive improvements in building performance, through initiatives such as the integration of building energy system optimisation modelling into the design process (Doug Baldock, Hoare Lea) or developing BMS data visualisation models using BIM (Ronan McCaffrey, National University of Ireland).

Selected papers from the Symposium are available to download from and you can follow day two live on Twitter through @CIBSE and #CIBSEsymposium.

With thanks to our Symposium sponsors: Taylor & Francis Group, Rinnai, and Delabie, and event host UCL.