London 2012 was a very special year, a celebration of sport and heritage. My time in London kicked off just before Christmas 2011 so it was great to be a part of all these celebrations. London is quite a friendly place and the people at GE Capital Real Estate (the real estate investment arm of General Electric) were very welcoming to their new Irish colleague.
A Postcard From Abroad — John Burgess
I started work in the recently refurbished GE Capital Real Estate office in Hammersmith as an Energy Management Advisor. I think the team from Minneapolis had been retired some years earlier.
My work involves dealing with a large real estate investment and management team across Europe, helping to continue the rollout of key sustainability and energy-efficiency initiatives, and to improve building performance for the occupants.
It is perhaps a little ironic that the office where I am based is called “The Ark”, a landmark building in Hammersmith, providing shelter from the economic storm raging at home. This new role provided me an excellent opportunity to continue doing what I love most about my work – to make our indoor environment a better place to live in a more efficient way.
One of the most striking things about London is the contrast between the bright city lights and the open parklands. My bicycle commute through Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park and the banks of the Thames was certainly a very pleasant way of seeing the quiet side of London. The Ark has excellent gymnasium, showers and locker facilities for the more active commuters and so I set myself an arduous training regime!
However, the audition at the Apollo in Hammersmith for Britain’s Got Talent was unsuccessful as Simon Cowell felt he could not teach an old dog any new tricks. Besides, Pudsey had much more potential. So I stuck with what I knew best and continued on with what was really a very exciting year.
My work took me to buildings all across Europe – Stockholm, Frankfurt, Madrid, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Gothenburg and Dusseldorf. While the usual restrictions on time for sightseeing applied, it is very interesting to see the different ways HVAC technologies are applied in the different countries.
Other highlights during the year included watching the botched up Boat Race from Craven Cottage. I was sure the impostor who swam between the two crews was the mad Irish priest, but thankfully he wasn’t, he was a crackpot of local origins!
There were the celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee for which the whole country entered into party mode. Then there was the most exciting Wimbledon in years with Andy Murray making the final and a win for the locals in the men’s doubles. This was followed by Bradley Wiggins’s win in the TdF and you know the rest as regards the outstanding Olympic Games. I had to share some golden moments with another nation of Green and Gold following the Jamaicans’ victories in the sprinting events.
Thank goodness Katie Taylor won gold, but what followed in the Paralympic Games was absolutely spell-binding and, for me, the best moments of the year. The Londoners packed the venues to watch the true grit and determination of athletes who have higher hurdles to jump than the rest of us. It was both emotional and motivating. The Irish athletes and their supporters did us very, very proud.
Looking forward to next year, I can’t let the opportunity go by without flagging two activities of note in the Geothermal Association of Ireland, a conference in Kilkenny in November and a competition for non-domestic installations. More details to follow shortly.
I wish everyone a peaceful and happy Christmas and may your endeavours bring you fulfilment in 2013. ■