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Building Services Engineers must take energy message to property owners

Building services engineers have to lead the battle to persuade property owners of the benefits of raising energy efficiency and ensuring buildings are operated properly – according to the president of ASHRAE.

In his presidential address to the Cibse/ASHRAE group in London he urged industry organisations to undertake face to face meetings with property owners at a local level.

Mr Harrison said: “It is time the technical societies and the owners got together around a table. Building owners waste billions a year and they don’t even realise it.

“We have to communicate more effectively. There are a lot of really good companies out there but there is frequently a disconnection between the engineering profession and owners and their agents.

“This is a local problem and it needs to be solved through local relationships. We need to meet with people and tell them about the problems of not operating their buildings properly.”

He said the design process could also be improved by early energy modelling, better communication with clients and improved training for facilities managers.

Mr Harrison said ASHRAE in the United States was developing training for facilities managers to ensure they know how to operate buildings and its local chapters were looking to hold meetings with property companies.

He said: “We have to make sure we deliver the energy message to building owners clearly. Too often we delegate the transmission of energy information to others in the design chain and that information arrives garbled or in an ineffective form. Owners need to be aware of the energy implication of the decisions they are making during the design phase.”

Patrick Brown, from the British Property Federation, said it was already trying to help owners and tenants to understand the implications of their energy use through the Landlord’s Energy Statement and Tenant’s Energy Review (les-ter) scheme. Mr Brown, who leads the les-ter project team, declined to respond directly to Mr Harrison’s speech, but said: “We do think it is important to design buildings well and operate them well. In order to support our members we have developed the les-ter tools which encourage engagement.

“They are designed to be not too heavy handed, but they do provide guidance on how these matters can be addressed and how to comply with broader compliance issues which are on the horizon or happening now.”

One member of the audience, who did not want to be identified, said: “The situation in the UK is that engineers generally feel very frustrated that we do not have as much improvement in energy efficient buildings as we could.

“It is not a technical problem. The problem is willingness and we come down to two characteristics - it is more legislation or shame.

“Why the hell can’t we have energy reporting and carbon reporting in company accounts. There is no reason whatsoever in the UK.

“They have all the facilities in the way they handle property to provide all the carbon and energy reporting for every tenant in that building so they can be included in the corporate accounts of tenants for each year. Until we do that I don’t think we will get anywhere.”