11 April 2017 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Engineers are being called on to embrace the potential of technology to deliver more comfortable and effective buildings.
Delegates at the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Technical Symposium at Loughborough University heard an opening presentation by Tim Wentz, who emphasised the dramatic changes being driven by digital technologies.
Wentz, president of ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) - referring to what he believes is an imminent 'golden age' for engineering - listed psychology and its role in occupant satisfaction as being a growing area for building services engineers to learn as traditional disciplines are increasingly taken over by computers.
As computers are capable of more processing power than all of humanity predicted would exist by 2050, Wentz encouraged engineers to embrace the opportunity to build better buildings than ever before in a "built environment renaissance".
This theme was reflected in other presentations assessing the potential of digital engineering.
Tom Lawrence from the University of Georgia demonstrated the potential of sophisticated demand response tools to lower energy use while increasing thermal comfort and without triggering any adverse feedback from occupiers.
John Field, president of CIBSE, said: "It is an exciting time to be an engineer as technology changes our profession right before our eyes. We need to be prepared to embrace new ideas and techniques as they develop to take full advantage of their potential."
Retrofitting of existing buildings was a major topic on the second day of the symposium, with a variety of case studies presented that demonstrated lessons learned in a diverse range of situations. Marianne Heaslip of Carbon Coop presented on delivering building performance in the context of a Manchester housing retrofit.
Sergio Fox of AWE made the case for simplicity in system design over added technology, and Abdullahi Ahmed demonstrated lessons learnt from a low-energy retrofit at Coventry University.