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BESA aims to turn theory into practice

This year’s BESA National Conference will take place at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, London on 21 November.

The conference will be held on 21 November at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel.

Taking its overall theme as ‘competence, compliance and climate change – turning theory into practice’, the conference will consider how the building engineering industry can meet many of the technical challenges it is now facing.

These include turning the government’s pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 into practical actions; delivering the building safety solutions highlighted by the Hackitt Review; complying with ever tightening refrigerant legislation; and achieving higher standards in pipework, ventilation and off-site manufacturing.

The wider theme of health and well-being in buildings will also be central to the conference, with technical experts considering the impact of rising pollution, overheating and poor humidity control on the quality of life of building occupants.

The net zero carbon challenge will be a cornerstone of the one-day event as BESA believes building engineering firms will be central to the £1trn programme to fully decarbonise the UK economy by 2050.

Among the targeted technical sessions analysing innovations, processes and technologies will be an expert panel considering the implications of the Hackitt Review for professional competence and compliance chaired by BESA chief executive David Frise.

The panel will consider how the industry can implement the post-Grenfell recommendations to make buildings safer. This discussion will go beyond the national debate about cladding to look in detail at broader elements of fire safety, such as the crucial role of damper maintenance and ventilation hygiene and consider how the industry can help landlords and tenants implement comprehensive fire safety strategies.

The Health and Well-being agenda will be covered by BESA’s new special interest group, which is drawn from specialists across the sector with particular emphasis on indoor air quality; temperature and humidity control; and the use of natural lighting.

The underpinning role of specification will be a key consideration for delegates, particularly in areas like pipework where the threat posed by low grade, counterfeit products can have long-term and serious consequences. Delegates will gain valuable insights into methods for checking quality and authenticity of products and the event will showcase BESA’s new pipework selection app.

The Conference will also look in detail at developments in low carbon heating; particularly around the potential for deployment of hydrogen and the growing market for networks and district heating.

The air conditioning and refrigeration sectors have their own specific challenges linked to extraordinary changes in the refrigerant gas market driven by legislation and concerns about global warming.

Graeme Fox, the head of the industry’s main F Gas register Refcom, will consider the implications for system design and maintenance – and look ahead at the profound impact of the F Gas phase down on product selection and price.

BESA’s thriving Future Leaders group of young engineers will take the lead on examining the growing digital technology options available to modern building services professionals. They will also consider the potential for improving the industry’s productivity by harnessing digital techniques and will address the many diversity and skills challenges that threaten the sector’s ability to achieve its technical goals.

There is a natural synergy between that topic and the growing role of off-site fabrication and other modern methods of project delivery. These will be the subject of a key session led by immediate past presidents Tim Hopkinson and Balfour Beatty.

Much of BESA’s specialist technical guidance will underpin the content of the Conference sessions along with innovations like the Association’s new pipework selection app; it’s newly launched Ventilation Hygiene Elite scheme; and updates to its heat interface unit (HIU) test standard.

BESA chief executive, David Frise, said: “While this will be primarily a technical conference, it will position the work of BESA members and the sector as a whole in the context of the big political, social and economic changes the country is experiencing,”

Mr Frise added: “Tackling climate change will create economic opportunity, but it also means the country can address some of its worst social justice issues, particularly in housing. Buildings are more than simply economic investments. They perform a vital social function – and this year’s conference will demonstrate how our technical work can be the underpinning factor in delivering a better built environment for all.”

7 August 2019

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