With some 130 speakers leading five simultaneous seminar streams, combined with volunteer presentations, special interest group meetings and exhibitor stands for specialist suppliers, Build2Perform covered a lot of ground. The free-to-attend event clearly struck the right note, with visitor numbers midway through day one exceeding the total number of delegates over the whole two day conference in 2016.
Many sessions focused on finding the ideal combination of natural phenomena and engineered solutions.
The lighting session considered the profound effects of natural circadian rhythms on people’s health and how well-designed artificial lighting can complement this natural system. The session also pointed out how ill-considered building design, such as tinted windows keeping out too much UV light or a landlord insisting on the use of roller blends, can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of occupants and their satisfaction with their working environment.
Natural ventilation was also discussed in a session that considered the vexed issues around assessing the effectiveness of natural ventilation systems and accurately modelling the impact of designed systems.
In a lively session from the National Trust, the impact of unintended consequences was discussed as the challenge of improving energy efficiency and the sustainable performance of historic buildings filled with artefacts was considered.
Detailed modelling to provide comprehensive predictions was ruled out because of the idiosyncratic nature of the historic buildings. Where else would it have been necessary to consider that introducing conservation heating – to reduce humidity levels – might just be a cause of celebration in the woodworm community?
A constant buzz in the conference hall throughout the day pointed towards animated conversation around the formal seminar sessions. Highlights on day two included the most popular single session – on the topic of building simulation. Led by CIBSE Building Simulation group vice chair Professor Darren Woolf of Hoare Lea and Loughborough University, the panel gave their overview of this most critical and contentious aspect of building services engineering.
The design of homes for the 21st century is an equally topical issue and a day of discussion on the subject focussed on good practice in the design of new homes, the challenge of retrofit and refurbishment and a consideration of the particular issues around modular and prefabricated house designs.
Alongside a packed schedule of talks, CIBSE also launched its Green Infrastructure challenge, looking for inventive proposals to maximise the use of biodiversity in urban environments. Now in its third year, the challenge always produces thought-provoking solutions and the results of this year’s programme will be announced at Ecobuild in 2018.
To round off the activity, CIBSE also announced the shortlist for the 2018 Building Performance Awards. Now in their eleventh year, these hotly contested awards are the only ones to focus on actual measured performance of buildings rather than design intent or performance specifications.
With an unusual degree of discussion and debate between the judges, this year’s competition is wide open and the final results, to be announced in February, will be eagerly anticipated.