Ken Sharpe, editor of Modern Building Services, looks at what’s in store for the building services sector in 2017.
It’s that time in the calendar when we look at the year ahead, make resolutions and plan for the future. The building-services sector is no exception. We face uncertain economic times which can make looking into the crystal ball somewhat hazy, yet some key trends are emerging. Here are three issues that will occupy the minds of the building services profession in 2017.
Health and well-being will come to fore this year
The WELL Building Standard is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being, administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). Launched in 2014, more than 300 projects encompassing 60 million square feet are now registered or certified under the WELL Building Standard in 27 countries.
It has been slow to gain traction in the UK, but that is set to change with the news that the IWBI and BRE have agreed to pursue alignments between WELL and BRE’s established BREEAM environmental standard that will make it easier for projects pursuing both standards. The BRE sees the opportunity to join forces as being instrumental in the move to advance the inclusion of health and well-being considerations in Europe’s built environment.
Consulting engineer Cundall’s new London office is the first project in Europe to implement the WELL building principles, putting the health and well-being of the occupants at the heart of building design. Expect this to be the first of many.
The rise and rise of tall buildings
Skyscrapers are nothing new, as any trip to Hong Kong, the United States or China will attest. Yet, the UK has long tuned its nose up at these building behemoths. Not any more. London alone has a staggering 436 tall buildings (20 storeys or greater) in the pipeline according to New London Architecture’s London Tall Buildings Survey for 2016.
Building services in tall buildings are crucial. Fire safety is just one area where the services design, installation and operation could be the difference between life and death. CIBSE, BESA and the ECA are combining forces to reduce risk and improve decision making around the particular issues involved with tall buildings. The three bodies are establishing a ‘wiki’ site to help develop the building-services industry’s first technical guidance and standards for systems in tall buildings. Do take part if you’re involved in this growing sector.
The Farmer Review points the way forward
The Farmer Review is the latest report to highlight the ills of the construction industry, pointing the finger at dire problems with low productivity, lack of investment in innovation and a fragmented industry. Farmer, CEO of construction consultancy Cast, sees potential solutions in modern methods of construction, off-site prefabrication and BIM adoption.
The building services sector needs to take heed of his advice. Those that are early to the party — for example embracing digital building design, construction and operation — will reap the rewards.
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