The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Building Performance Conference and Exhibition was dominated by talks on building management system (BMS) security and the influence of occupant behavior on building performance.

Opening this year’s two-day CIBSE Building Performance Conference, keynote speaker the Rt. Hon. John Gummer stressed the need to look at the big picture when it came to energy efficiency.

“Politicians have a habit of pointing at one thing, or one solution, and say ‘that was my idea.’ However, if we look at the broader picture, there’s more chance of achieving significant reductions. Make small alterations across the board and it all adds up.

“Furthermore, investment in energy efficiency goes straight to the bottom line. However, to get this point across, you need to talk in a language that people understand.”

The first day was dominated by talks on security, as some of the UK’s top engineers grappled with the issue.

The key findings from the sessions focused on treating security as a people problem as well as a technology problem; businesses in the future need to think hard about who is given information about a building via systems like building information modeling (BIM), how much ancillary information contractors might have that could one day be exploited, and how easy it is to access detailed BIM information that could make buildings vulnerable.

Ian Ellis of Siemens said, “Where once it was just the HVAC system in a building using controls, now various other elements are integrated, including portable devices. Open protocols are now more prevalent to help further drive building efficiency.”

However, Ellis added, “With this, ever-more complicated systems using these open protocols are accessible from anywhere in the world, making buildings increasingly vulnerable to ‘bored student’ hackers, who take advantage of security lapses to infiltrate a BMS system.

”While this may only mean turning off lights and raising temperatures, this could be dangerous for controlled environments, who must maintain constant conditions.”

The example of a drug manufacturer, which relies on a specific, temperature-controlled environment, was given in terms of being susceptible to outside interference.

To combat this, Ellis advised getting experts involved early and recommended several steps to ensure system security. “Make sure anti-virus software is up to date, manage software updates, and restrict PC access.

“Password monitoring is also vital — make regular changes and ensure reduced access was applicable.”

Conversely, Andrew Sieradski , head of security at Buro Happold, cited the huge potential of technology such as BIM to optimize building performance through security.

By inputting information about equipment into a data management system, computers can automatically identify the best camera resolution, the amount of necessary data storage, and the optimum temperature at which to cool it.

This provides savings in time for the designer and ensures the system will perform better throughout its life.

However, all speakers were agreed that security must be a primary consideration for designers. Ellis said, “People know the potential risk associated with security; what is necessary is to make security a priority that is introduced into the design as early as possible.”


Next up was a UK government security adviser, covertly named as Paul, who gave the example of a slide showing the BIM plans for the development of a Victoria train station in London.

The detailed plans, which were available online, revealed intricate structural elements that could be used for a negative purpose, such as an act of terrorism.

“This project has 8,000 people with full BIM access. That’s a vast amount of people from all different elements of the project, from the major companies to the smallest suppliers. The latter group could be an easy way in for anyone who wanted to interfere with the plans due to potentially having less secure online systems.”

BIM was also a theme later in the day, when it was discussed in the session Using BIM in Building Operations. CIBSE’s BIM Task Group is still active in supporting the introduction of BIM Level 2 in April 2016, but this session invited a fresh perspective from Warwick Stannus, of the Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors Association of Australia.

The emphasis in this session was on the people, rather than the technology, behind BIM.

It began with a talk from Hugh Boyes, associate fellow of the Cyber Security Centre at the University of Warwick, who advised that securing BIM is down to people and processes as much as technology.

Making sure that only those who need to know have access to all the sensitive data is a must, as are the processes for securing that data and revoking access after construction is complete.

Similarly, Stannus advised a focus on process from his Australian perspective. Part of Australia’s impressive progress on closing the ‘performance gap’ is down to collecting and presenting useful data from systems such as BIM so it can be used to optimize building performance. His key advice from the day was that only by efficiently collecting, storing, and delivering building and facilities management data to the right people can we make performance gains.

The afternoon sessions were begun by the Lighting, Wellbeing and Comfort in Buildings presentation, which featured talks on airflow in buildings by Dr. Cath Noakes, and Climate Based Daylight Modelling by Dr. Paul Littlefair.

This was followed by the presentation of research by Public Health England into the effects of LED lights on human health — finding that domestic lights perform the best on color, temperature, and flicker, but that street lights perform the worst.


The influence of occupant behavior on building performance was explored by psychologists and specialists in building use and adaptation on the second day of the CIBSE Building Performance Conference.

Rhiannon Cocoran, professor of psychology at the University of Liverpool, spoke about how buildings can be adapted to encourage occupants to act in a more ecologically sound way, and the influence of human preference for immediate rather than long-term gain on how they behave in buildings.

When we are in pleasant environments, we are more likely to perform socially beneficial tasks such as recycling, community action, and sustainable actions than if we live in unpleasant environments.

This talk formed part of a session on how the UK building stock can be adapted to climate change, with Ann Marie Aguilar of Arup, who focused on meeting the increasing needs of older people and the disabled by considering how they actually use buildings and making small changes that enhance their wellbeing and quality of life.

Alexi Marmot of Alexi Marmot Associates encouraged different thinking about our working environments, noting the direct link between our satisfaction with our work environment and our jobs. She also highlighted how occupant behavior drives building management, citing the demand for air conditioning, regardless of its actual effectiveness. She also argued that we only use a small percentage of total office space productively, but redesigning the working week around usage patterns is often too psychologically difficult to achieve.

The session on changes to UK and European Union (EU) legislation relating to buildings featured talks on Building Regulations in the UK and likely changes to Part L in England and the requirements of the F-Gas Directive, presented by Mike Nankivell of the Air Conditioning and Refrigerant Training Board (ACRIB).

Nina Reid, director of responsible property investment at M&G Real Estate, outlined the forthcoming legislation on minimum energy efficiency standards, and Tahsina Khan of the Industrial and Commercial Boilers Association reviewed the Energy Related Products Framework and its implementing measures, noting that energy-efficiency standards and labeling for smart building systems were currently being studied by the European Commission.


The afternoon sessions featured presentations of recent Innovate UK-funded research. There was lively debate between the audience and those speaking on the evaluation of building performance. Matt Colmer of Innovate UK asked the key question: “Why don’t buildings perform in real life as they do on paper?”

From a client perspective, users do not always use the building’s systems as the designer intended, and empathy between designer and end-user is a good way to boost building performance.

Other speakers outlined the challenges facing designers in trying to meet this challenge, and achieve designs which meet the design energy performance expectations.

The conference closed with a session on innovation and collaboration in building performance, echoing Nick Mead’s presidential theme of collaboration.

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Content for the European Spotlight is provided courtesy of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Magazine, London. For more information, visit

Publication date: 5/23/2016

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