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BSRIA Briefing 2017 - presentations and reviewNovember 2017

Click links below to download presentations from the BSRIA Briefing 2017 ‘Tomorrow’s Challenges in Today’s Buildings’ (simple registration required to download):.

On Friday 17th November BSRIA welcomed over 400 industry professionals to The Brewery in London for its annual Briefing. This flagship event was opened by BSRIA Chief Executive Julia Evans, who welcomed leading industry figures.

Speakers & chair at BSRIA Briefing 2017

Julia explained that this year’s topic had been 18 months in the planning “we’re all getting older!” and it transmogrifies into tomorrow’s challenges. She reminded the audience to explore the wider context of the buildings we use, live and work.

With that, Julia welcomed the speakers and the chair, Ant Wilson MBE, to discuss the theme of this year’s Briefing: ‘tomorrow’s challenges in today’s buildings’.

Chris Twinn, Principal, TwinnSustainabilityInnovation

Chris Twinn, Principal at TwinnSustainabilityInnovation, gave a presentation entitled: an exploration of our future and started by stating that the future prosperity of the developed world is dependent on delivering “far more” using “dramatically fewer resources”. A bonus, he observed, was that the developed world has already used a lot of resources which are now embedded in the building stock, meaning that the focus should be on utilising and adapting “what we have”. Certainly – in five years’ time – there will be a rapid change in resource efficiency. More electric and autonomous times are coming “like a large giant” so we will have to make changes in our lifestyle.

Chris challenged the audience, and indeed industry, by making a compelling case for the UK adoption of the NABERS scheme (the National Australian Built Environment Rating System) which embraces the “design for performance” approach pioneered in Australia. The scheme decrees that very energy efficient new office buildings are routinely achieved and verified by investment-grade energy ratings, with defined outputs, which would clearly be a motivator for simplifying buildings and for them to become four times more efficient. Win win.

He explained the benefits of opportunities from improving outdoor urban environment – for buildings – natural ventilation can halve air conditioning building energy use. Halving energy use halves heat emitted. Air conditioned heat rejection is ploughed back into heat network.

He concluded by saying industry needs to “start selling what is on the tin” and “refocus on the end user as our real client”.

Jane Vass OBE, Director of Policy & Research, Age UK

Jane Vass OBE, Director, Age UK (the largest UK charity dealing with the ageing population), was invited to the Briefing to put into context the challenges currently (and in the future) being faced by this demographic and said that by 2035, 30 per cent of Europe’s population will be over 60. Clearly, “the face of the world is changing”. In the UK in particular there has been an increase in the older population and the 85 years+ age bracket will increase by a factor of 2.5 by 2039 (from 2014). There are currently 14,000 citizens aged 100 years+ and by 2035 this is expected to be 83,000.

Jane dispelled some myths: “this generation is an economic force and still spending”. Many over the age of 65 (men) and 62 (women) are still working and make “resilient and resourceful” employees. Indeed: by age 68, one in five men and one in six women will still be in the workplace. Clearly – there was more diversity in places of work. But such workplaces must be designed to accommodate diverse needs.

She went on to say that research demonstrated that older people do not want to live in care homes but want to stay in their own homes. This will require age-friendly housing and workplaces, that are inclusive, adaptable and warm. She outlined the need for lifetime homes, a better private rental market (not just Generation Rent, but an increasing number of older people), and the potential of smart buildings. As well as the significance of creating “age-friendly communities” where landlords do not “force them out”.

The built environment plays a “big part” in their lifestyles. Indeed: Building Regulations Part M: (access to and use of buildings) can help. Picking up on her earlier point – most older people do not want to live in care homes – Jane believed smart buildings are the way forward – with assistance buttons to call an ambulance – especially for those who have nobody to let such emergency service staff in.

Thermal comfort is central and as ever – simple things matter – toilets, seating and lighting – which comes under the wellbeing agenda. It is essential that an “ideal” temperature is maintained throughout the home. Smart technologies can play an important part and, maybe, wearables could specifically assist since they track and detect the wearer’s movements and can help ensure that heating and cooling is directed to where it is needed and take account of variable factors like body heat. Using such response proximity technology can indeed be cost effective. Win win.

Alan Kell OBE, Managing Director, Intelligent & Green Systems Ltd

Alan Kell OBE, Managing Director at I&G Systems Ltd, in a presentation entitled: the world of innovation – gave a wistful nod to the fragmentation of the construction industry, which has hundreds of institutes – each a bit like a “club” with their own values, practices, publications and material. But which one is the Bible? It has become “institutionalised” which is both “good and bad”. He reminded the audience that “today’s challenges in today’s buildings is risky enough”!

The productivity of an office was paramount but it was hard to financially measure: the same applied to hotels and shops – even if the high street was giving way to increased internet shopping. Alan said that developments need to be commercially viable and noted that the least adventurous housing developer in the 1990s is still one of the most profitable, whereas the developer that took on the challenge of the INTEGER house went bankrupt.

To round up – Alan said that “innovation is risky but the long-term alternative is far worse”. The UK is seen as a leader in innovative thinking, but “not in the implementation of innovation” and we are led by the Chinese. Industry has to lead on implementation, with appropriate support from government. Risks can be shared through action-research partnerships focused on taking concepts into mainstream commercial implementation. As a parting salvo he suggested this was a leadership opportunity for BSRIA and its members.

Tassos Kougionis, Principal Consultant – Residential – Sustainable Construction Group, BSRIA, kicked off by saying that tomorrow’s challenges in today’s building are defined by today’s actions and decisions.

One of the biggest challenges for the residential sector will be the “increased homes delivery”. In February 2017 – government issued its Housing White Paper which promised 250,000 new homes a year – quite the increase from recent delivery rates which were 150,000-170,000 new homes a year.

In terms of challenges in future infrastructure, and in choosing new development locations, the construction industry should carefully consider emerging social, environmental and technological trends in order to offer the right product, at the right time and at the right location.

He discussed the “megatrend” of urbanisation, quoting UN predictions that by 2050, 70 per cent of the world's population will live in urban centres. But “different generations have different needs” and this will need to be considered when looking into the diversification of properties within the urban landscapes.

Regarding brand reputation – Tassos posed the following questions: “is there a home performance guarantee? why is your product unique?; why are houses are not treated like other products?; how good quality is considered during property evaluation?; and how are you different? One must ask: “what is your offering”? “Location, location, location was king! but in the future health and wellbeing will become increasingly important.”

He said that if phones stop working we usually replace them: but this isn’t something we can do with the built environment – we must take care of buildings, retrofitting and adapting them to ensure they remain fit for purpose.

Tassos advocated that today's buildings will be tomorrow’s challenges. He called for much more research, saying: "in order to address a challenge we need to understand it" and predicted that as new data-rich products come to market, property selection could become the subject of much “greater consumer scrutiny”.

Modern methods of construction (MMC) and new technology is the future – but it must be simple for the user! Also we need to communicate to the consumer the fact that different technologies and systems installed in their homes have different lifespans. The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart homes will assist the industry in communicating this information more efficiently to the user. New diagnostic tools and products will also assist residents in understanding how to best use their properties. There are also new players entering the market – such as the “Google house”.

Tassos said: “We need to understand the consumer: we need to focus on the consumer and become better in using good practice and high quality as key elements of our marketing strategies. We may have been spoiled as an industry because at the moment we just build houses and people buy them but this might not be the case in the future.”

It is vital to remember that the (traditional) financial markets are also changing fast with funding mechanisms and new products being released such as “green” mortgages. These changes will affect the consumer’s purchasing powers and investment selection criteria.

In conclusion – Tassos said that “in order to defeat a challenge we need to understand it. Research is essential! We need to understand what we offer as a product to the consumer, and how we can keep things simple". Tassos’ parting comment was: “today’s decisions will shape the future! Innovate and think big!”.

Kath Fontana, Technical MD, ISS

Kath Fontana, Technical MD at ISS, looked at building performance and presented from the perspective of a facilities manager in the commercial sector. She asked THE question: “so what?” and countered this with the importance of the impact of people in the built environment. She suggested offices have evolved more in the last five years in terms of worker expectation than in the previous 50, highlighting the move towards an experience-based, rather than activity-based workplace, saying: "work is a thing that you do, not a place that you go".

Kath said that “good building services always have been, and always will be, the foundation of a safe and productive workspace”. But the changing face of the FM couldn’t be ignored which included: environmental, economic, technological, political, legal and social aspects. This is especially acute now that we have five generations working side by side in the office.

Buildings have to talk: connecting people with buildings and optimising workplace solutions. It is a “human to human” business. Input (hours) creates output (KPIs) which result in outcome (value) and the latter is key.

She said there was a requirement for new standards to measure “excellence more accurately”. There is also a need to harness technology as an accelerator, using Big Data as a means of driving down asset costs. She proposed that the FM sector is in an "era of unstoppable convergence".

Kath showed a video which showed how, in an office in Denmark, smart technology could co-ordinate: finding a free car parking space; ordering your coffee; letting your host know you’d arrived; ordering lunch – even gluten free – creating the perfect temperature; finding you an empty desk and ordering your dinner! All seamless for a “pleasant and productive stay”!

She wrapped up by citing Bill Gates: “we always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction”.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes Bt OBE ‘the world’s greatest living explorer’

The afternoon keynote speaker was Sir Ranulph Fiennes Bt OBE. The first person to reach both North and South Poles by foot, he also made it into the record books by completing seven marathons on seven continents (including Antarctica) in seven days – soon after emergency heart surgery.

He spoke about his life, his adventures and the teams that had supported him, emphasising that when selecting new team members, he focused on their motivation, believing that it is this that drives behaviour under severe circumstances. Any “rotten apples” in the barrel could expose flaws in such team. Character was crucial as this can’t be taught but skills can.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes Bt OBE - afternoon keynote speaker

Sir Ranulph gave some anecdotes from his expeditions, giving an insight into the extremes through which you push yourself and including the effects of starvation – dropping from 15½ stone to under nine. Due to hypothermic conditions – gangrene would set in – he lost some fingers – and how one’s lips would stick together during the night. But it was all worth it “to live life on the edge”.

Julia Evans closed the event with thanks to all the sponsors – especially Trend – delegates in attendance and the announcement that the annual Briefing would be back – same place, same time next year: Friday 16th November 2018.

Assembled audience at 2017 BSRIA Briefing


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