The HVRA (Heating & Ventilating Research Association) as it was known then was founded, funded and governed by its industry members to undertake collaborative research for their benefit. It was however also financially supported by Government to disseminate its research for the public interest, as well as to undertake confidential research contracts for various Government departments. The output of this valuable and ground-breaking work was not glossy guidance publications but – lowly laboratory reports, highly regarded by researchers but not ideal for the industry’s practitioners.
Such was the total output of the Association’s work that after 20 years, and still under the leadership of its founding Director Neville Billington OBE, I recall the members proposed a change and in 1975 BSRIA was born, not only to demonstrate the broadening of its scope into the wide range of building services but most importantly with the inclusion of the ‘I’ for information, available on request. Its raison d’être from then on was to provide information and guidance in a form that could be easily digested and applied by industry practitioners and their clients.
Laboratory reports were turned into Technical Notes and Application Guides were generated as a result of industry-sponsored research, BSRIA publications started to fill the bookshelves and be seen on the industry’s desks. Most importantly, many of these have become reference documents in specifications for the way in which various processes should be undertaken – the BSRIA Guide is the de facto authority for many. This has not happened by accident but by the strict adherence to research, practitioner input and review across the spectrum of BSRIA membership, and complete integrity and impartiality. Over the last 40 years hundreds of Guides have been produced, many recognised now merely by their reference numbers. The original emphasis on technical design matters has gradually grown over the years to cover the procedures for technical activities like commissioning and water treatment, as well as the format for the management of the design and construction processes themselves. Latterly, guidance has included the procedure for delivering an operational building and monitoring its performance in its formative years known as soft landings and life-cycle assessment.
One of BSRIA’s many attributes and strengths is its membership, which is made up fairly equally of clients, consultants, contractors, manufacturers and an ‘others’ category as can be seen at the back of its Annual Review. This very wide representation of the industry is special and enhances all that the Association does, as it provides a unique forum for addressing the key issues which are sometimes seen differently by different parts of the industry.