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BSRIA Briefing 2012 - review and presentationsNovember 2012

Another excellent BSRIA Briefing, chaired by Robert Higgs (OBE), the former Chief Executive of B&ES, with c400 industry professionals in attendance. This year in a nutshell: the Energy Bill, BEMS, decarbonisation, heat pumps, dash for gas, retrofit, building performance, robots and magic boxes.

The Briefing 2012 speakers answer searching questions from the audience

A recent report forecasts that even if we double our current rate of decarbonisation, we're producing "emissions consistent with 6 degrees of warming by the end of the century" (Low Carbon Economy Index 2012, Pwc). Thus, as James Smith, Chair of the Carbon Trust put it, "we're facing a serious environmental and economic threat". So, industry leaders made a case for the opportunities for energy-efficient buildings in a challenging future climate. Here's a brief summary:

James Smith - Chairman, Carbon Trust

Obviously, climate change has not gone away - James appealed to the audience to collectively keep the agenda going. Amongst other challenges, we need to address the behavioural aspects of energy use (technical issues are arguably easier to deal with), such as over-consumption and an increasing desire for thermal comfort.

There are two levers for carbon reduction: energy efficiency and decarbonisation. For example, carbon capture and storage is vital. The projections from our past poor performance on carbon emission reduction suggest that negative carbon technologies are needed. We also need to get behind the Energy Bill (see James' recent article 'Let's stop squabbling []' for the Huffington Post). Of course there is disagreement, but we need a reality-check: ok, not all low carbon technologies are perfect (such as offshore wind), but we still need them. James believes that a cap for subsidies on immature technologies is the right thing to do - this will at least incentivise engineers to come up with better solutions. The industry should also be invigorated by the potential job opportunities that the energy efficiency agenda may create (30 to 50 million jobs globally in carbon reduction).
(Note: James did not have a PowerPoint presentation)

Andrew Giles - Director of Worldwide Market Intelligence, BSRIA

Andrew provided a timely overview of market trends including the growth of heat pumps, dash for gas, the use of Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), cloud software, and a vision for buildings in the future.

Six years ago there was a heat pump boom - and the world market now totals 2.5 million units. However, the European market is lower than predicted, so the growth has mainly come from Asia. Japan is leading in this and fuel cell technology. Moving onto gas solutions, BSRIA predicts that boiler sales for replacements will dominate the market to at least 2020. Assuming that the economy has recovered, the UK will be more environmentally friendly than, for example Germany, in new build. However, in the UK, RHI won't be finalised for residential.

Interestingly, we will see more system integration, with the lines between commercial and residential markets blurring, and a growing trend towards the development of integrated and converged BEMS (growing at 15% p.a.). Technology is providing new market opportunities. For example, we may see a move towards 'automatic continuous commissioning', the use of mobile apps including on open source platforms for BEMS, and businesses moving data to the cloud.

Finally, looking ahead at the future of cities, we're already seeing the use of robots for low-skilled work (meet-and-greet type roles in lobbies), more off-site construction, the inevitable demands for more space, and the rise of modular and re-configurable buildings.
Download Andrew's presentation

David Fisk - President, CIBSE

Let's get straight to business - Central Government is brain-dead. In other words, David believes we're lacking leadership for energy efficiency and we're facing a return to the 70s in terms of our over-reliance on energy imports. The UK's economy is returning to a situation whereby energy is no longer a good thing to use, and we're facing serious energy supply and/or price issues. Energy blackouts are not that far away.

Perhaps we are seeing the arrival of 'supercharged' energy management. Smart grids and smart meters will become normal, and design processes ideally better reflect delivery targets.
Download David's presentation

Richard Scott, Head of Consultancy Services, E.ON Sustainable Energy

Richard is 'in search of the magic box'. Actually, there isn't one - no easy cure, but we need to make better use of the full range of technologies already available to us and build long-term relationships throughout the supply-chain.

We're facing an energy trilemma: lowering CO2, reducing energy related costs, and securing long-term supply. Backing up David Fisk's observations, Richard recognises that if we do nothing, by 2017 energy demand will outstrip supply.

Retrofit is the real challenge: different buildings will require different technology solutions, so these should only be selected for building-specific requirements. Richard believes that Energy Performance Contracts will drive investment in energy efficiency (with no upfront capital investment by the end user). There are some great case-studies available, including the use of geothermal energy at Sainsbury's and the 10, 000 low carbon homes located at the Greenwich Peninsula.
Download Richard' presentation

Andrew Stanton - Head of Sustainable Buildings, Transport for London (TFL)

The Mayor of London's target to reduce CO2 (60% by 2025) in the city is a key driver. Andrew set out some of the challenges for driving reduced energy consumption in the sizeable TfL estate. For example, it can be difficult to motivate decision-makers if in fact energy plays a relatively small part of the overall costs (i.e. compared to rent and service charges). It also requires finding time outside of the daily maintenance challenges: TfL has to deal with 94,000 planned maintenance calls, and over 4,000 air conditioning and heating unit inspections per year. Not to mention the paper-work…

Understanding building performance is crucial, but there is no such thing as a 'smart' meter. Someone still needs to analyse the data and put it to good use. Nevertheless, TfL has much to be proud of, with the BREEAM Excellent Palestra Building in Southwark, and the RE:FIT project to improve the performance of 22 buildings. This included control upgrades, new lights, and the installation of waste heat recovery systems.

Andrew finished by pointing out a nifty 'building energy' map which anyone can use to check out local DEC ratings (a ULI initiative Projects like CarbonBuzz are just the start - we need a real culture-shift for industry benchmarking and open data about building performance if we're going to drive a positive energy future for buildings.
Download Andrew's presentation

BBSRIA Briefing 2012 write up by Clare Sinclair (, BSRIA Information and Knowledge Manager.