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CIBSE ASHRAE Technical Symposium

This is the first year Hamworthy has been involved in the CIBSE ASHRAE Technical Symposium and the first time the event has been held virtually. Everyone involved - from the organisers to the engineers who submitted papers - had to adjust to a new way of debating and presenting, and the challenge was dealt with brilliantly. Sam Boshier, Marketing Manager, from Hamworthy gives us a roundup of the 2-day event.

With over 70 presentations there are too many topics to cover so we’ll concentrate on some of our highlights and areas that are more relevant to commercial heating.

Taming the energy tiger

The first day kicked off with a keynote from Andy at Star Refrigeration titled ‘Taming the energy tiger – how can I make a difference’. Andy started with a timely reminder that it is our ‘responsibility to call out fake news on climate change, particularly as we are too often seeing facts and opinions used interchangeably!’ Couldn’t agree more Andy.

He presented some interesting ideas on heat pumps, looking at different system designs and learning from how other countries have adopted them – namely Sweden and France. Indeed, our parent company, Groupe Atlantic in France, has been offering heat pumps to their markets for many years now.

Live(ly) debate completes day one

A very honest and balanced live debate was run by CIBSE YEN members to round off the first day. The topic was ‘Designing for building performance needs to focus on real outcomes not theoretical calculations’. Some of the key threads to come out of it:

Digital and modelling is an enabler - not the answer

It was highlighted that even different modelling tools can tell you different things and they are dependent on the data put into it being right.

Breaking the habit

Anastasija, who joined from New Zealand very honestly said ‘Most of us are creatures of habit, following low risk design using old and trusted methods.’

This was bought up again by Stuart MacPherson, CIBSE president, in his keynote on the second day titled ‘Net Zero in practice’. He said we should give designers freedom to come up with the right solutions for their requirements.

Involvement and buy in from all involved parties

A topic that generated a lot of air time was the need for buy-in at all stages. We know this was something the 2016 Government BIM mandate  intended to do, but in practice there are always barriers to overcome:

Real performance data needed

Performance gaps can occur as designers are unsure how people are using the building, and inevitably this will change over time (the current Covid-19 situation has shown us this). It was discussed that Building Services Engineers should involve themselves in commissioning so owners are comfortable with the building.

The need for ongoing monitoring was echoed by Stuart MacPherson in his keynote presentation. He said ‘to be truly net zero a building has to be monitored.’

At Hamworthy, we work with some of our customers to monitor gas usage after an installation. You can see this from a project at St Paul’s Cathedral, where a 40% reduction in gas consumption was made. However we do also have some horror stories, particularly around controls. A control strategy may be put in place using either the built-in boilers controls or a BMS, and then someone comes along and switches the boilers to ‘on hand’ and everything goes out the window!

Challenges of Covid-19

With the current climate, they couldn’t do an event without discussing Covid-19. The keynote on the second day titled ‘Covid-19 changes and challenges’ dedicated time to this relevant and important subject.

Hywel Davies, Technical Director at CIBSE, chaired the session and made reference to the guides that CIBSE produced early on in the pandemic to help people after lockdown to reopen their buildings. These have been made free of charge and are referenced by HSE. Hywel said they have been downloaded more than 35,000 times. You can find them here.

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald FREng, a visiting professor University of Cambridge presented ‘Preparing buildings for winter’. Looking at  the different mechanisms of transmitting the virus and the concern for the winter months.

The role of building services

Building services does, and always will, play a key role. The need to ensure consumers are hearing the ‘real’ stats and calling out fake news is something we are all responsible for. And it is clear we need to work together from the planning through to maintenance to ensure buildings are performing in practice as they were designed to.