The UK should look to its engineering community for solutions to many of the serious social and economic challenges it is facing, according to the President of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).
In his presidential address to association members and guests, Rab Fletcher said the building services sector had a pivotal role to play in tackling the energy, climate change, cost of living, and building safety crises confronting the country.
He said this year “would be very tough” for the industry but that building engineers were in a privileged position because they could make a difference and influence the future.
“These are big problems for the UK, but they are also opportunities for us to demonstrate the value of this industry and why our expertise matters,” he said.
“BESA will continue to champion our role, drive improvements in technical and professional standards, and support training as we strive to create a workforce capable of rising to these challenges.”
Fletcher, who is also mechanical services team manager at Fife Council, said there were plenty of reasons to be optimistic despite the general economic gloom. He referred to the first ever World Ventilation Day, which BESA helped to organise last November, as an example of how the industry could help to drive social progress.
“We worked with 21 organisations, including professional bodies, universities, and environmental groups from across the UK, Europe, North America, and Australia…demonstrating how good ventilation can help to keep people safe from infectious diseases, improve sleep, and reduce mould and damp in buildings,” he said.
He also paid tribute to the Honorary President of BESA’s Health & Well-being in Buildings group Rosamund Adoo Kissi-Debrah who has been campaigning for air quality and child health since the tragic death of her daughter Ella in 2013 and received a CBE in the King’s New Year Honours for her services to public health.
“She is a huge supporter of what we are trying to do about improving air quality in buildings,” said Fletcher.
He added that last year’s highly successful BESA National Conference was another example of why members of the ‘BESA community’ should all be optimistic about the future.
“We bring our industry together – not just for the sake of it – but to create positive change,” he said.