A more diverse profession is essential to build resilience against future crises and better respond to the pandemic and climate change, Kevin Kelly, incoming president of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers said in this presidential address.
Kelly pointed to the “warning shots” of the SARS, MERS and Ebola outbreaks that should have spurred an international effort to prepare for a pandemic. Instead, lulled into a false sense of security by the containment of these warning shots, the world was woefully unprepared to deal with the arrival of Covid-19.
Kelly used the analogy of a sleeping frog – apparently a frog immersed in water that is being heated simply sleeps until it is boiled – to describe this behaviour and speculated that climate change threatens to be the next and arguably most significant sleeping frog of all.
Outlining the central role being taken by CIBSE experts in analysing and responding to the threats posed by climate change he warned that the industry needed to take a lead in building the strongest possible defence.
In his view, this demands positive action to improve inclusivity and diversity within the field of building services engineering. Kelly outlined his own experience of combatting not just overt discrimination but also unconscious bias and stated his commitment to using his presidential term to support positive change.
Kelly warns that challenging the status quo would require a willingness “to have the awkward and difficult conversations ahead and lean into them in order to change our industry for the better by making it more inclusive and welcoming to all”.
Kelly succeeds Stuart McPherson as CIBSE president.