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Moss proposes bold new role for Cibse

An ambitious proposal for the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers to take over responsibility for the day-to-day implementation of the building and energy performance regulations has been put forward by former president Brian Moss.

Mr Moss, founder and ex-chairman of ventilation specialist Nuaire, told those attending his Gold Medal Address that Cibse could also oversee the relevant elements of the proposed Construction Products Regulations on behalf of the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG).

He said the new approach was needed as the Government lacked sufficient good internal scientific and engineering staff to cope with increasingly technical regulations.

He said: “The energy efficiency elements of the Building Regulations are so technically demanding that the under resourced department cannot be expected to do the job effectively. Delays, postponements and debacles, such as the introduction of Home Improvement Packs, support this view.

“Cibse can offer the technical expertise to meet Government’s needs in this critical area. At a stroke, technical competence, transparency and accountability to the industry as a whole – supply and demand sides – would be available. And, as a very worthwhile bonus, they would be less exposed to the whims of politicians and the mercy of electoral timetables.”

Cedric Sloan, director general of the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations, said there was already a precedent. He said: “The Institute of Electrical Engineers, now the Institution of Engineering and Technology, has traditionally produced the wiring regulations which are the bible for safe electrical installation. Why shouldn’t Cibse do something similar for building services?

“Just as with wiring regulations, there would be no place for politics and short-term policy and, as a chartered institution, Cibse would have to provide impartial and well-considered guidance.”

Andrew Eastwell, chief executive at BSRIA, added: “I believe that what is needed in regulating the built environment is a holistic view that covers architecture, planning, engineering and the range of supporting functions. I do not think Cibse alone can properly reflect this broad need.

Certainly they command competency in the heating and ventilation sector, albeit as a facilitator of volunteer experts, rather than with in-house depth of knowledge.

“I am unclear how moving responsibility for just the implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive from Whitehall to Balham (the location of Cibse’s headquarters) would solve the wider issue of getting these diverse elements together to create the real framework that will reduce overall built environment loads on the planet.”

Jack McDavid, from the Heating and Ventilating Contractors’ Association, said it was important for organisations like his own and Cibse to build strong relationships with CLG, but he added: “The problem is that these regulations need to be policed and enforced in the end and only the Government can do that.”