Incoming CIBSE president Stuart MacPherson made an appeal for net carbon standards and an ambitious programme to refurbish existing buildings in his inaugural address.
MacPherson succeeds Professor Lynne Jack as president.
Delivering his speech on 5 May via video, he called for targeted investment in low-carbon solutions to drive recovery from the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Citing the experience of previous economic shocks, MacPherson suggested that the natural reaction of governments when faced with the urgent need to stimulate economies was “to deregulate and delay further change for fear of inhibiting investment”.
“This is one time where this must not happen,” he said.
“There is an opportunity to invest in structural changes, such as clean technologies and the education and training of the workforce who will implement the changes that will bring about reductions in emissions as economic growth returns.
“It is going to require a step change. We need to be designing all new buildings to net-zero carbon standards and embark on a much more ambitious programme of refurbishment of existing buildings, combined with ways of decarbonising the energy supply to those buildings.”
MacPherson cited specific areas of research and development where building services engineers are leading the field. District heating and energy from waste, demand management, realistic building performance modelling and energy infrastructure resilience were some of the issues highlighted.
He also paid tribute to the commitment of the CIBSE community of staff and volunteers who continue to support its membership and society at large during the Covid-19 crisis.
He praised the speed at which the organisation’s central role of spreading information and learning had migrated into an online environment, and the valuable consultative role CIBSE members are providing to the Construction Industry Task Force and Royal Academy of Engineering in government advisory work.
Using CIBSE’s response to the crisis as an example, MacPherson speculated that this seismic change gave everyone, at personal and government level, an opportunity to re-evaluate behaviours. He said the potential is there to create working environments that are better than they were before – returning to ‘business as usual’ should not be the limit of that ambition.