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What can we learn from the Grenfell Tower disaster?

Dr Hywel Davies Technical Director, CIBSE and Chair of the Expert Group on the Approved Documents

Dame Judith Hackitt’s review, and the associated activity around buildin  regulations in England, is the most significant review in over a generation, since the 1984 Building Act, and is widely recognised as being a once in two generations opportunity to reform building regulations in England. It will also have implications in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which are watching closely.

Moreover, it will extend beyond building regulations, which apply up until a building is complete and handed over, into the operation of the building and subsequent maintenance and minor works. This review activity is being watched closely outside the UK too, with three states in the Australian Commonwealth introducing legislation related to cladding on tall buildings in October 2018.

This paper summarises the activity associated with the review, and also considers where we are likely to see changes in practice as a result of Grenfell Tower. Many have said that the industry must change in order that we reduce, as far as is humanly possible, the prospect of any such fire occurring again. Dame Judith was asked to focus on “High Rise Residential Buildings” (HRRBs), with a twofold purpose:
• To make recommendations that will ensure we have a sufficiently robust regulatory system for the future;
• To provide further assurance to residents that the complete system is working to ensure the buildings they live in are safe and will remain, so Visit This URL to look for more safety hazzards and what you need for security in a construction process.

Dame Judith was asked to:
• Map the current regulatory system (i.e. the regulations, guidance and processes) as it applies to new and existing buildings through planning, design, construction, maintenance, refurbishment and change management;
• Consider the competencies, duties and balance of responsibilities of key individuals within the system in ensuring that fire safety standards are adhered to;
• Assess the theoretical coherence of the current regulatory system and how it operates in practice;
• Compare this with other international regulatory systems for buildings and regulatory systems in other sectors with similar safety risks;
• Make recommendations that ensure the regulatory system is fit for purpose with a particular focus on multi occupancy high-rise residential buildings.

The review began by calling for evidence from interested parties. As well as contributing to responses by the Construction Industry Council and Royal Academy of Engineering, CIBSE responded with a detailed contribution on façade engineering aspects of the review developed by a working group of the Society of Façade Engineers (Ref: 1). Dame Judith’s interim report was published on 18 December 2017 (Ref: 2), in which she concluded that the current system of regulation of HRRBs is not fit for purpose.

Dame Judith commented on some of her observations during the initial phase of the review, saying: “I have been shocked by some of the practices I have heard about and I am convinced of the need for a new intelligent system of regulation and enforcement for high-rise and complex buildings that will encourage everyone to do the right thing, and will hold to account those who try to cut corners. “Changes to the regulatory regime will help, but on their own will not be sufficient unless we can change the culture away from one of doing the minimum required for compliance, to one of taking ownership and responsibility for delivering a safe system throughout
the life-cycle of a building.”

She gave extended evidence later that day to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee of parliament (Ref: 3). This underlined her concerns and set out a number of reasons for them:

1) Current regulations and guidance are too complex and unclear. This can lead to confusion and misinterpretation in their application to high-rise and complex buildings;

2) Clarity of roles and responsibilities is poor. Even where there are requirements for key activities to take place across design, construction and maintenance, it is not always clear who has responsibility for making it happen;

3) Despite many who demonstrate good practice, the means of assessing and ensuring the competency of key people throughout the system is inadequate. There is often no differentiation in competency requirements for those working on high-rise and complex buildings;

4) Compliance, enforcement and sanctions processes are too weak. What is being designed is not what is being built and there is a lack of robust change control. The lack of meaningful sanctions does not drive the right behaviours;

5) The route for residents to escalate concerns is unclear and inadequate;

6) The system of product testing, marketing and quality assurance is not clear.

In late January there was an industry summit, which was accompanied by a statement which reinforced the interim findings and set out the next steps:
• The current system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is not fit for purpose;
• A culture change is required, with industry taking greater responsibility for what is built – this change needs to start now;
• This applies throughout the building life-cycle, both during construction and occupation;
• A clear, quick and effective route for residents to raise concerns, and be listened to, must be created. The Report set out six broad areas for change:
• Ensuring that regulation and guidance is risk-based, proportionate and unambiguous;
• Clarifying roles and responsibilities for ensuring that buildings are safe;
• Improving levels of competence within the industry;
• Improving the process, compliance and enforcement of regulations;
• Creating a clear, quick and effective route for residents’ voices to be heard and listened to;
• Improving testing, marketing and quality assurance of products used in construction.

The second and final phase of the Review set out to develop practical solutions that will deliver these areas of change and support the direction of travel set out in the Interim Report. Nothing short of a major overhaul of the whole system was envisaged, and Dame Judith undertook to work with all those who shared her ambition and drive to create a new and robust regulatory framework and system that supports this. Across all sectors of the industry she called for radical thinking about the immediate actions that could be taken to lead to sustainable change.

Industry leaders at the summit committed to work to create a new system that will work effectively and coherently, with working groups formed to develop innovative solutions in the following key areas:

Design, construction and refurbishment: Establishing what industry and regulators need to do to fully embed building safety during the design and construction phase; Occupation and maintenance: Identifying what building owners, landlords and regulators need to do differently to ensure that building safety is prioritised when a building is occupied and throughout its life-cycle;
Products: Determining how the product testing and marketing regime can be improved;
Competency: Establishing how competency requirements for key individuals involved in building and managing complex and high-risk buildings should change;
Residents’ voice: Determining the best way for residents to be given a clear, quick and effective statutory route for raising concerns on fire safety;
Regulation and guidance: Resolving whether central Government ownership of technical guidance is the most appropriate model for complex and high-risk buildings.

An expert group was also formed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to inform the government response to the recommendation to consider how the suite of Approved Documents could be structured and ordered to provide a more streamlined, holistic view, while keeping the right level of relevant technical detail. The author chaired this working group. Its recommendations were submitted in March to Dame Judith and accepted in full in her final report. In response to Grenfell, MHCLG also established a very comprehensive web-based compendium of Grenfell-related information (Ref: 4).

Dame Judith’s final report was published by government on 18 May 20185. In response to her remit, to “make recommendations that ensure that the regulatory system is fit for purpose with a particular focus on multi-occupancy high-rise residential buildings”, the report focuses on “higher risk residential buildings”, defined as residential buildings over 10 storeys. However, Dame Judith notes that a number of her recommendations should extend to multi-occupancy buildings.

This has prompted considerable debate, and current thinking within the Construction Industry Council (CIC), which brings together all the professional bodies in the industry in England, is that her recommendations should apply to all multiple-occupancy residential buildings, regardless of height. The report envisages a new regulatory system, bringing the Fire Service, Health and Safety Executive and Building Control services together in a “Joint Competent Authority” (JCA), which is proposed to oversee both construction and operation of higher-risk buildings, and to take responsibility for the enforcement of the Building Regulations and other relevant legislation relating to HRRBs (see Chapter 1). It calls for a series of Gateways for new HRRBs and major projects on existing HRRBs, which would entail significant scrutiny and sign-off by the JCA. It also envisages a role for the JCA in overseeing a safety case system for existing HRRBs through the whole operating life of the building (see Chapters 2 & 3).

The report calls for radical change in the current Building Regulations and associated guidance (Chapter 6), and for provision of full digital models for all new higher-risk buildings, and for them to be maintained through the life of the building (Chapter 8). However, it is Chapter 5 that sets out the (potentially) most far-reaching recommendations for CIBSE and its members, and indeed for all professionals, relating to competence. Recommendation 5.2 of the Review calls for the professions to come together to provide a new and more robust and effective system for recognising and maintaining competence. The terms used in the Report could not set
a clearer challenge to the built environment professions, and merits reading in full.

Dame Judith, a past-President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, was clear that professional bodies in the built environment and property and fire safety sectors must find a way to work together. She calls on government to supervise the process and, if we cannot deliver, to step in. The message is really clear, and the response was almost immediate, with a working group being formed.

Other key recommendations from the report that will impact building services engineers include:
• A clear model of risk ownership, with clear responsibilities for the client, designer, contractor and owner to demonstrate the delivery and maintenance of safe buildings. The project team will be held to account by the new JCA. This new body will have powers during both construction and operation of a building, and for existing buildings;
• A set of rigorous and demanding duty-holder roles and responsibilities to ensure a stronger focus on safety during a building’s design, construction and refurbishment. These roles will be broadly aligned with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. Penalties for those “who choose to game the system and place residents at risk”, as Dame Judith describes them, will also be more serious.
• Moving towards a system where ownership of technical guidance rests with the industry, with oversight by government. A clearer package of regulations and “truly outcomes-based” guidance which will be simpler to navigate while reflecting the level of complexity of building work. It acknowledges that “prescriptive regulation and guidance are not helpful in designing and building complex buildings, especially in an environment where building technology and practices continue to evolve, and will prevent those undertaking the work from taking responsibility for their actions”;
• A more effective product-testing regime with clearer labelling and traceability because “the current process for testing and ‘certifying’ products for use in construction is disjointed, confusing, unhelpful, and lacks any sort of transparency”. Poor procurement practices to be tackled to ensure high-safety, low-risk options are prioritised and full life-cycle cost is considered when a building is procured;
• A digital record from initial design intent through to construction, including any changes that occur during occupation, is also called for, effectively producing a model similar to one created under BIM Level 2. This digital model will create “a golden thread of information” about each HRRB which is handed over to the owner. The information can then be used to demonstrate to the regulator the safety of the building throughout its life cycle;
• Clearer rights for residents are also proposed, as well as responsibilities where resident activity can create risks that may affect others.

Much of the report is eminently sensible and says a lot of things that have needed saying for some time, although there is still a lot of detail to be resolved. It is not yet clear how the government will proceed to address the full package of recommendations, but the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has already set out what will happen next:
• Government has consulted on restricting the use of desktop studies as a means of assessing the fire performance of external cladding in lieu of an actual fire test. The consultation sought views on whether desktop studies should be used at all, and whether or not they are appropriate for construction products, wall systems, or for any other purpose;
• Government has consulted on clarifications to Approved Document B (Fire) over the summer and on banning the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise buildings. Legislation on this point is thought to be imminent at the time of writing. A full technical review of Part B of the Regulations, and of the Guidance, is also very likely.

The full Government response was promised for “late autumn 2018” and so may have emerged by the time you are reading this paper. In the meantime, Grenfell is not the only high-rise fire to have occurred. In Melbourne, Australia, the Lacrosse Building suffered a significant fire to which aluminium composite panels contributed. There were no casualties, and the sprinkler system helped to control the spread of the fire.

There was also a multi-storey hotel fire in Ballymun, Dublin recently. Thankfully, again there were no serious casualties but the building suffered significant damage. Following a full investigation, the State of Victoria has now introduced legislation to limit the use of such material on buildings in the State. New South Wales has also introduced new regulations. Queensland, which has an unknown number of buildings with potentially-combustible cladding, has introduced legislation requiring owners of high-rise buildings to register them with the State Building Control Commission by next March, and those that appear to be at risk of having combustible cladding will then be investigated further. It is not just England that has the problem with this cladding.

SDAR Journal 2018 Grenfell was an awful event, and has devastated many lives. There does appear to be a resolve to change the way that we build and manage high-rise residential buildings in the UK, but we are now getting to the challenge of starting to deliver change, and not talking about it. In the meantime, it is clear that the problems we have in England are not unique, and those elsewhere are also taking a close look at the way they regulate their buildings in the light of their own experience, and also that at Grenfell.

References
1. www.cibse.org/News-and-Policy/Consultations/Closed-Consultations/
Independent-Review-of-Building-Regulations-and-Fir
2. www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-buildingregulations-
and-fire-safety-interim-report
3. The evidence session along with subsequent correspondence with the
committee is at: www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committeesa-
z/commons-select/communities-and-local-government-committee/
4. www.gov.uk/guidance/building-safety-programme
5. www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-buildingregulations-
and-fire-safety-final-report

Embrace change but remember, ‘an quán dì yi’

Derek Mowlds, MSc, the Managing Director, PM Group Asia.

Reflecting on the industry since commencing employment as a designer approximately 23 year ago, the biggest change I have encountered is the rapid advances in technology and ICT. The fundamentals of building services design have not changed. However, how we work and communicate has completely transformed in the last two decades

I have seen and been part of this transformation from my humble beginnings in a design office in Mountjoy Square in Dublin (pre- AutoCad!), to VMRA in Dartry Road, then PM Group and onto PM Group’s Shanghai office in China. I am now the Managing Director of our businesses in Asia, and I felt that the best thing I could do for this piece is to share my thoughts on some of the key focus areas to successfully compete in, and deliver, projects in today’s exciting but sometimes unpredictable environment

These are in no particular order, as they may be applicable to various stages of business development and the project execution lifecycle, or to various stages of your own career.

Remain agile and flexible                                                                                             Building services engineers and the supply chain should remain agile and flexible in a very dynamic and changing environment. This may simply mean remaining open to different contracting models such as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) or working with contractors on design and build projects; it may even mean an openness to travel for international experience, or work on projects with teams from multiple locations, or in a different sector.

Systems thinking                                                                                                                                                        Engineers are best placed to apply a “systems approach” to both engineering design and overall project delivery. Any project can be broken down into a distinct number of systems, many of which will be common from building to building, despite the sector. Focussing on the critical/key systems early can help drive decisions and improve project delivery and efficiency.

The systems approach can also be used to identify key interfaces with other design disciplines and encourage early dialogue and design coordination. Outside of engineering, there is an interesting resource that frequently refer to called the Systems Engineering Body of Knowledge (SEBoK – www.seebok-info.org) which provides key knowledge resources and references of systems engineering, organised and explained to assist a wide variety of users.

Lessons learned                                                                                                                                                             Always strive to capture and transfer lessons from one project to the next. Also refer to lessons captured from other projects in your organisation. Do this early in the project, before you encounter a repeat issue that could have been easily avoided. Without a robust “lessons learned” system in your organisation, valuable knowledge will be lost across projects as the design team will change, and people move on, but the key issues and challenges remain!

Be open-minded                                                                                                                                                        Always remain open to new technologies and innovations, and encourage innovation from all members of your team. Embrace the right technologies and approaches for your business and projects early, including BIM, LEAN, Construction Management IS (Information Systems) etc. However, remember that technology is an enabler, not the answer.

Continuous Professional Development                                                                                                          Stay in touch with your relevant engineering institutions, attend conferences and CPD events. Also, there is a huge volume of on-line CPD available. This raises another issue … for many the challenge now is managing your time as we are now “data rich and time poor”, according to a famous quote from Dr Kevin Kelly. It is also of huge importance to mentor and train the next wave of graduates in our industry. As you progress through your career, share your knowledge and experience to build the competencies of those around you.

Culture and communication                                                                                                                               Our clients, teams and colleagues now consist of a diverse mix of nationalities and cultures. This can actually improve team performance and efficiency based on the differing perspectives of individual team members. However, this requires leadership and mutual respect. Building services engineers also need to integrate into multidisciplinary design teams (often from multiple companies) to deliver projects requiring a huge dependency on soft skills in addition to technical acumen. There is a huge body of knowledge on culture and communications, plus regular seminars and workshops, that might be worth attending if you feel that improvement is needed in this area.

Safety first                                                                                                                                                                   Last, but by no means least, remember to keep safety at the heart of everything that you do. Think of safety in design and safety during construction. Then deliver safe assets and systems for those who will operate them into the future. In China we say “an quán dì yl” … safety first. Stay positive and watch out for signs of stress. I say this to both employers and employees, particularly on demanding projects. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Hevac promotion for Darren Yourell

Darren Yourell, Commercial & Industrial Division Manager, Hevac

After a successful time as Dublin’s Business Development Manager for the company, Hevac has promoted Darren Yourell to Commercial & Industrial Division Manager. Darren is widely known in the industry and comes from a mechanical engineering background. He is presently an executive MBA candidate at UCD Smurfit Business School.

With nearly 20 years experience and the qualities he has shown while working as part of the senior management team over recent years, Hevac sees him as the ideal candidate to lead the growth and development of the commercial and industrial division.

Contact: Darren Yourell, Hevac. Tel: 01 – 419 1921.
Mobile: 086 – 803 0398; email: darren.yourell@hevac.ie

Conor Quigley joins RVR

 

Conor Quigley

RVR Energy Technology has appointed Conor Quigley as Technical Sales Representative based in Dublin. Conor holds a Master’s Degree in Building Services Engineering from Sydney University and has over 30 years’ experience in the Irish building services industry.

Conor has worked extensively in consultancy, sales and contracting and brings this wealth of knowledge and experience, especially in the commercial heating sector, to the RVR team. Contact: Conor, Quigley, Technical Sales Representative, RVR Energy Technology. Tel: 087 – 707 7552; email: cquigley@rvr.ie

Entry deadline looming for CIBSE Ireland inaugural awards

Pictured at the announcement of the
CIBSE Ireland Awards were (front row):
David Doherty, T Bourke and CIBSE Ireland
Committee; Paul Martin, SEAI and CIBSE
Ireland Chair; Michael O’Herlihy, Wilo Ireland;
and Damien Flynn, Axiseng and Vice-Chair,
CIBSE Ireland; (second row): Pat Lehane,
CIBSE Ireland Committee and Publisher/
Editor, Building Services News; Derek Elton,
Wilo Ireland and Kieran McCarthy, Daikin
Ireland; (third row) Karl Carrick and Garrett
White, Hevac; (back row): Richard Sherlock,
Mitsubishi Electric, John Valentine, Daikin
Ireland and Fergus Daly, Mitsubishi Electric.

This is a reminder that the entry deadline for these new awards is fast-approaching so log on to www.cibseireland.org/awards2018/  now if you don’t miss out. These awards are open to the design consultant and mechanical or electrical contractor, and submissions must be a joint entry by both the consultant and contractor. Buildings that are eligible for submission include – hospitality, leisure, health, commercial, industrial, retail, pharmaceutical, educational facilities and office buildings.

There are three categories for the CIBSE Ireland Awards, and they are sponsored respectively by Daikin, Hevac and Wilo. These are – Up to €2 million; Between €2 million and €5 million; Over €5 million. Applicants may enter only one project per category.

Projects can be located anywhere in the Republic of Ireland and entries must be submitted by the design consultant/project engineer on behalf of the design and contracting teams. Projects must be “practical completed” by 31 December 2017 (i.e. available for client use in January 2018) to be eligible for inclusion. Log on to www.cibseireland.org to enter and complete as directed.

Hard copy completed submissions must be returned to CIBSE Ireland Awards, c/o Building Services News, Carraig Court, George’s Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin, no later than 2pm on Friday, 27 July 2018.

The awards will be presented as part of the CIBSE Ireland 50th dinner celebrations in the Clayton Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 on Friday, 30 November, 2018.

Excellent presentations at SDAR Awards 2018

Back Row: Michael McDonald (DIT) with Charles Dunn (CIBSE/RPS), Dr Avril Behan (DIT) and Gerry Farrelly (DIT)
Front Row : Padraic O’Connor (SISK) with Thomas Shannon, Mona Holtkotter, Camila Dbastiani and Dr Kevin Kelly (DIT)

The SDAR awards promote collaboration between industry and academic institutions. The idea is to encourage applied research and ensure quality and value in innovation projects. The more research papers and post-occupancy evaluations undertaken, the more sustainable design and energy efficacy in future and existing buildings can be encouraged.

The role of CIBSE in this regard is to facilitate this process and disseminate the findings. The event was opened by Dr Kevin Kelly,Head of the School of Multidisciplinary Technologies and Vice-President, CIBSE, and Michael McDonald. Michael is the event organiser, a member of the CIBSE Ireland Committee and alecturer at the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

The expert judging panel consisted of Gerry Farrelly and Dr Avril Behan, DIT and Charles Dunn, RPS and CIBSE Committee. First prize went to Mona Holtkötter of the International WELL Building Institute and Secretary of CIBSE Ireland. Mona’s research on the potential impact of the updated Building Regulations Part L on current building design strategies, using a Dublin city centre office building as an example, was a narrow but deserved winner following her excellent presentation. The title of the paper was The new Irish Building Regulations Part L 2017: the impact on city centre developments. Padraic O’Connor, Building Services Department Manager at Sisk & Son, presented her with a cheque for €1000.

The two runners up (in no particular order) were as follows.

— Influence of the biogas generated on the mixing of UASB bioreactors: Comparison of CFD and experiential results by Camila D’Bastiani of DIT (Ph.D. Researcher);

— A case study into the integration of technological and engineering innovations in a manufacturing/distribution facility to support a sustainable future by Tommy Shannon of Excel Industries.

They each received €250 courtesy of CIBSE Ireland, the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and the School of Multidisciplinary Technologies.

Lighter/Young Lighter competition                                                                                                                     The second upcoming major event is the CIBSE Irish Lighter/Young Lighter competition. This is well established as a premier national and international lighting competition, and will be accepting abstracts from mid-June.

Contact michael.mcdonald@dit.ie or kevin.kelly@dit.ie

Paul Fagan joins Grundfos

Paul Fagan, Grundfos Sales Engineer

Paul Fagan has been appointed Sales Engineer, Residential Building Services, Grundfos Ireland. Paul has a strong background selling to the building industry and he is also well known in GAA circles.

His duties will cover the full Grundfos range of domestic and light commercial products and will involve dealing with the residential market, contractors, consultants, specifiers, developers and merchants.

Contact: Paul Fagan, Grundfos Sales Engineer. Tel: 01 – 408 9800; Mobile: 087 – 915 7551; email: pfagan@grundfos.com

Building Services Engineering Graduate Builds Career from Level 6 Start

Paul Martin, SEAI Programme Manager and CIBSE Ireland Chairman

Looking back to his Leaving Cert subjects — accounting, geography and business studies — Paul comments that they weren’t “traditional” engineering subjects but his interest in engineering was evident from an interest in how things worked … much to the detriment of his sister’s CD player. From his Level 6 Higher Cert, Paul progressed onto a level 7 add-on and, from there, he went to the UK to do further studies.

“Now that that the economy and construction are picking up“, notes Paul, “and there is a huge demand for building service engineering graduates and says that, compared with traditional engineering qualifications, building services engineers are paid more.”

Paul is now a Chartered Engineer and Programme Manager for Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and in charge of Technical Standards Development. “My day to day job is developing standards that will insure that we will live in a more sustainable country, and in influencing other EU countries to follow our lead,” he explains.

In 2017 he was elected Chairperson of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, Ireland Region. “This position will allow me to help influence our members (and beyond) in the latest and greatest engineering developments.”

“I am a very proud graduate of WIT and I was delighted to see the standard of the course held high (20 years on) when I judged the Building Services Student Awards last year in WIT. The lecturers always had time for their students and in particular were always helpful when I couldn’t get my head around some of the aspects of the course.

“I couldn’t recommend the Building Services course in WIT more. I know talking to employers that graduates from WIT are held in high esteem”, concluded.

Related Courses in WIT

Higher Certificate in Engineering in  Building Services Engineering
Bachelor of Engineering in  Building Services Engineering
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in  Sustainable Energy Engineering

 

BUILDING SERVICES NEEDS SERIOUS WAKE-UP CALL!

joe-hogan-1-of-2What prompted this article was that many of us at the table had in fact been in class together at various times and had gone on to serve in various sectors of the industry. When we started in the industry there were no full-time building services courses. The majority of would-be engineers went to the UK to do the IHVE exams. The City and Guilds Course in the 1960s and early 1970s served many who went on the become leaders in various sectors of the industry. They (both guys and girls) went on to work in consultants’ design offices on drawing boards, behind the counter in merchant providers, as sales engineers and as junior contracts managers.

In the early 1970s Don Byrne and Pat Benson set up the Building Services Course in DIT Bolton St which, in the main, served the industry well up to the recent construction industry crash. Many of the current principals of consultancy practices and directors of M&E contracting firms attended DIT courses and qualified as Chartered CIBSE Engineers. A significant number started with the part-time courses before going on to attend full-time courses and obtain a full engineering degree in building services.

A large percentage of these people also freely gave of their time through the various industry bodies such as MEBSCA and CIBSE Ireland to devise and establish the structures that have served the sector so well. Many consulting engineers gave lectures in DIT colleges to augment the full-time lecturers.

However, that scenario has changed dramatically. While the intake to the DIT first-year common engineering programme still attracts a healthy 100 plus students, the numbers opting to study building services as opposed to the other engineering disciplines is but a handful. The present incumbents involved in the colleges, I am informed, are doing some serious soul-searching with even the title “Building Services Engineering” being called in to question.

Either way, the industry needs a call to arms to ensure we promote the opportunities to not just school leavers but people already in the industry. There has always been a demand from people on site, or in sales, or in various businesses in the industry to further their education and these people need to be encouraged and accommodated within the various Institute of Technology courses and systems.

The present position is that the sector needs everything we can get from our colleges, from more apprentices, craftsmen  foremen, trainee engineers, technician engineers and qualified engineers to meet the demand of the broader building services sector. Recently, a significant Irish firm went on national radio and announced it was looking for some 500 engineering personnel.

So, if they need – and attract – that many from a diminished pool, what will be left for the rest of us? Our destiny is in our own hands. It is inconceivable that the established building services course in DIT might disappear, or indeed the relative newer programmes of WIT and CIT. The industry needs to support those involved in running these courses.

Equally so, the colleges need to devise courses, and perhaps more importantly a manner of delivery, that attracts young people into the industry. It is obvious young people are still interested in engineering … it is now up to all in building services to sell it as a desirable career choice.

The Government has stated that it wants to encourage more people into engineering courses and the current system can accommodate this intake … all we now need is the willpower to stand up and fight for what we know our industry needs.

Garvin Evans — An Appreciation

Garvin Evans

Garvin Evans

It is still hard to believe that he is gone from us, as he was incredibly special to everybody who met him, and you always felt the better for being in his company. He was a man of tradition and standards and always wore a tie. He regularly berated his golfing friends for not wearing a tie in the clubhouse.

He first came to Ireland from Wales in the 1960s with Plessey and settled in Malahide. He and Gwenda had three children Richard, Edge and Gill, and all were equally special to them. However, it was through the Edge’s success with U2, whom Garvin travelled extensively with on tour, that many of Garvin’s adventures and stories were lived. We have all heard he played golf with Bill Clinton and regularly met with Tom Watson who invited him to the Ryder Cup. He also sang with his idol Pavarotti.

When Plessey closed down Garvin set up his own consultancy practice and trained many fine engineers in his time. Singing was very important to Garvin and he sang both with his Church choir and the Welsh Choir, who also sang at his funeral. He was very much associated with his church, was a church elder, and deeply committed to his religious beliefs. How this latter position sat with the jokes he told I don’t know but he was a wonderful story and joke teller. Rotary also played a major part in his life and he was a founder member of Dublin North Rotary Club.

However, golf was his real love and passion and he will be remembered fondly by the BTU Golfing Society. He constantly strived for perfection, which we all know is impossible, but Garvin always thought he had mastered the game each time he went out. It was easy to tell how successful that was by the speed he walked.

Some of us were lucky to be on the latest Canaries golf trip which we have been going on for the last 38 years. On the trip he was nicknamed the peacock because of the flamboyant and vivid matching colours he wore on the golf course. Apart from the sunshine you would need sunglasses to subdue the colours. It was also on our 2015 trip that he forgot his razor and the beard commenced.

On one of our golf trips to Wexford eight of us went out to eat one night in Larkins. There was a lady’s birthday celebration at one of the other tables and when they were singing happy birthday Garvin joined in and drowned out everybody. Later when the lady was leaving she came over to our table to thank Garvin for his singing. However, as she turned to leave she said to Garvin: “by the way, are your underpants too tight?”

We his friends will remember him for many different and pleasant reasons and also because he fought until the end. He was a true warrior who always clung to life. He never gave up despite all he suffered. He leaves us a great legacy which teaches us to persevere no matter the circumstances.

While we mourn him, others are rejoicing to meet up with him again on the other side. I just hope he is not bringing all the money he won off us at golf with him. I hope he remembers it is easier for a poor man to get through the gates than a rich man.

On the few occasions that we did manage to take money off him he would hand it over saying: “you are not going to take money from a little wizen Welsh git.”

You and I will meet again 

When we are least expecting it

One day in some far off place

I will recognise your face

I won’t say goodbye my friend

For you and I will meet

Larry Kane