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Volunteering on a CIBSE committee, giving back to the industry and finding a network for life
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Volunteering on a CIBSE committee, giving back to the industry and finding a network for life

20 Mar 24
10 minutes
Networks and Engagement Team

This month we would like to introduce to you Dr Maria Spyrou, who is currently an Associate Director at Turner and Townsend – alongside her very busy day job, she is an active volunteer of the Energy Performance Group.

The Energy Performance Group (EPG) aims to improve the energy performance of buildings by increasing awareness and supporting relevant legislation around carbon emissions.

Maria started as an Elected Member, was previously Vice-Chair and has recently stepped down as Chair. She continues to support the committee as an Elected Member once again.

In her career, Maria has worked as an in-house energy manager delivering energy efficiency projects, as well as a consultant, supporting various organisations across the UK with their sustainability initiatives and net zero goals.

Maria kindly took some additional time out of her busy schedule to answer a number of questions relating to her volunteering experience at CIBSE.

How did you first find out about volunteering with CIBSE?

I found out about CIBSE in general whilst looking for a chartership institute during my Engineering Doctorate. I then was fortunate enough to participate and present at the first CIBSE Technical Symposium in 2011 where I met Dr Anna Dowson and the then chair of the EPG, Phil Jones. Shortly after Anna brought together a group of us, and we successfully launched the Young Energy Performance Group in 2012!

Why have you chosen to volunteer in the EPG committee for over 10 years?

I was one of the founding members of the YEPG because I felt passionate about giving young people access to knowledge, research, and people. I felt that at the time young people interested specifically in making buildings more efficient didn’t have a forum to discuss their ideas, exchange knowledge, challenge each other, and network. Therefore, through volunteering for the YEPG I felt like I was doing my part in enabling those things through free events and networking opportunities, as well as geeky games and pub quizzes!

What appeals to you most about volunteering?

Giving back to the industry that made me who I am, and inspiring young people to do more with their careers and ambitions.

How has being on the EPG committee helped in your personal or professional development?

Throughout my journey on both the EPG and YEPG committees I’ve been encouraged to collaborate and work with others throughout the industry. Through our shared passion for energy efficiency and giving back, I’ve gained friends for life, trusted colleagues that I can reach out to when I have a question, and a supportive network that has been there for me when things got a bit tough.

What are you most proud of from your time on the committee?

I’m most proud about the creation of the YEPG, and the first summer series of events we organised. I’m so proud of the calibre of specialists we got to give up their time and present at our events, and the number of people we were able to reach through those. Adam Poole called us ‘The real game changer’ in the June 2013 edition of the CIBSE Journal and I had that copy of that article on my desk for years!

I’m also proud of the way the EPG was able to swiftly change the format of their events in 2020, when Covid first appeared, and we were all still navigating remote working. We successfully moved to online events, and were actually able to improve the diversity of the people benefiting from them by changing the dates and times we host them.

How have the challenges changed in each of the roles you have undertaken on the committee?

This is an interesting question. It is true that depending on which role you take, there are different challenges to deal with, however I always found the people on the committee to be so supportive and helpful that I didn’t feel anything was a challenge. I think I feel more challenged in the last few years because my workload has increased, and it feels like the same has happened for others on the committee too, so we have less time to spend on the committee than we would have liked.

What can we expect to see from the EPG committee in the future?

I’m stepping down as chair from the EPG in April, however the new chair is already talking about more presence on social media and articles for the CIBSE journal that align with various celebrations, such as women in engineering and black history month. We are already planning our next two events, one on Sustainable finance and one on the new Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard so please sign up to receive our newsletter so you get the invites for those!

How ever much or little time you have to volunteer, whatever your skill set or stage of your career, there are numerous opportunities to get involved in volunteering at CIBSE search our volunteering opportunities.

You can also learn more about the Energy Performance Group and Young Energy Performance Group on our website.

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