The BCIA reflects on an eventful anniversary year

The Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA) has reflected on another busy year in the building controls sector, with apprenticeships, Net Zero and the return of the BCIA Awards among the many significant discussion points in 2021.

This year was of course a milestone year as it marked 30 years since the BCIA’s formation. As part of the celebrations the BCIA created an infographic detailing some of the key technological landmarks that have occurred since 1991. It also spoke to two BCIA members, Roger Woodward, a founder member, and George Belfield, a winner of the BCIA’s Young Engineer award in 2017, who discussed their respective careers and how the industry has evolved in 30 years.

The gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions meant the BCIA Awards took place as a live event in October, after the 2020 awards were held virtually. The BCIA also made its first trade show appearance since the lifting of lockdown restrictions at the Smart Buildings Show at ExCeL, London. This included a panel discussion featuring the BCIA President Terry Sharp and Vice-President Graeme Rees, titled ‘The Smart Buildings of the Future – why we need to start planning for them now’, which considered the issues surrounding the need for continued training and competency frameworks to ensure that the next generation of building controls engineers have the right skills to deliver true smart buildings in the future.

The first cohort of BCIA apprentices started their BEMS Controls Engineer Apprenticeship with training provider Group Horizon, and the feedback from the programme has so far been excellent. Isabel Lamb, BEMS Controls Engineer Apprentice at AIMTEQ, says: “I have always been fascinated about engineering and enjoy problem solving. With the course and the support from Group Horizon and BCIA, I have found the modules both interesting and challenging.”

Net Zero and the impact of buildings on the environment remain a high priority and the BCIA underlined the need for well-maintained building controls within buildings following the publication of a landmark report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that warned of the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways.

The need for more energy efficient buildings has contributed to a predicted growth in the smart buildings market. According to MarketsandMarkets, the smart buildings market is projected to grow from USD 66.3 billion in 2020 to USD 108.9 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.5 per cent during the forecast period. The major drivers for the smart building include rising adoption of IoT-enabled building management systems, rising awareness of space utilisation, increased industry standards and regulations, and increasing demand for energy efficiency in order to meet Net Zero targets.

Casting his eye back over 2021, BCIA President Terry Sharp comments: “In what has been another year of disruption and uncertainty I am proud of the way the BCIA and the industry in general has continued with a ‘business as usual’ approach that has enabled us to get things done, lockdown or no lockdown, and make a difference in the drive towards a smarter, safer and more energy efficient built environment.”

He adds: “The return to live events has been fantastic for the industry as companies have been able to showcase their latest projects and innovations and catch up with industry colleagues. Nobody could have forecast quite what our 30th anniversary year had in store back in 1991 and I just hope that there will be less disruption in 2022 than what we’ve dealt with in the last couple of years.”

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