Meet the experts
What now for the engineering consultancy industry? What challenges does it face? Is low carbon the answer? And how do things look for commercial buildings? To get some answers to these questions, Grundfos got the views of two people with their finger on the pulse. First we hear from Dr. Dorte Rich Jørgensen, Senior Sustainability Manager at Atkins; and then we get the views of John Deasy, Commercial Director UK at Hilson Moran.
Dr. Dorte Rich Jørgensen
Dr. Jørgensen has most recently worked on as Sustainability Manager for Atkins on the London 2012 Olympic Park. Dr. Jørgensen has 23 years experience of successfully embedding sustainability into the built environment and infrastructure projects on a range of cutting edge and award winning projects. She is a Visiting Professor in Innovation at Heriot-Watt University and a member of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).
Atkins is a leading engineering and design consultancy with offices across the UK, North America, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Europe. The company has its headquarters in London and has been involved in some of the world’s leading design and engineering projects – both at home and abroad.
From Hilson Moran we talk to John Deasy, Commercial Director UK. John Deasy combines experience from the Boardroom with project work. He shares some insights about the future of the industry based on his experience at all levels.
Hilson Moran is a leading independent multidisciplinary consultancy company. The company has a network of offices in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, with its headquarters in London. Hilson Moran provides a full range of engineering services.
A view from Atkins
Overcoming challenges: teamwork throughout the supply chain
Atkins at a glance:
Employees: 17,400 worldwide
Revenue: GBP: 1.72 billion
14th largest global design firm in world
Largest multidisciplinary consultancy in Europe
(Photography by Adrian Houston)
What do you see as the major challenges facing the industry?
DRJ: It will be a tremendous task for the industry to keep expanding its skill set to adapt to the changing demands towards a more sustainable approach to solve global warming whilst going through times of transition in the economy. However, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games project with Atkins’ involvement has demonstrated that it is possible for thousands of engineering and construction professionals to deliver a flagship project with sustainability at its heart within budget and on time. With more projects like this, clients and the industry teams will be able to address these major challenges.
"In my experience, the best designs are usually created by teams that work in close collaboration throughout the supply chain, influencing each other with the ability to deliver excellence."
Dr. Dorte Rich Jørgensen
Can you give us an example of how the industry is working towards achieving sustainability objectives?
DRJ: I have been embedded in the Atkins’ infrastructure design team for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games project. As Atkins’ Sustainability Manager I worked with the client to ensure that the sustainability objectives were met. For example, the Wetland Bridges achieved the highest score to date (98.3%) on the CEEQUAL sustainability rating (widely-used evidence-based Sustainability Assessment and Awards Scheme).
This result includes many cross cutting design initiatives, including: using reclaimed materials, low carbon concrete and recycled materials, replacing toxic materials with environmentally friendly alternatives, ensuring responsible sourcing of e.g. timber and minimizing waste. All of this while also ensuring the design is people friendly.
What about ‘low carbon ready’ buildings – what is special about these kinds of building?
DRJ: For these buildings the designers ensure that the energy consumption required by the building during operation is lowered. This is achieved by optimising basic parameters such as the building orientation, the glazing/shading ratio to optimise daylight, the insulation fabric etc. Then the energy requirement during operation needs to be met in an energy efficient way, e.g. using natural ventilation, heat recovery, effective controls of lighting and energy efficient equipment selection.
Before the building is handed over to the client it needs to be commissioned effectively with re-commissioning during the year to adjust the operation to adapt to changes during the seasons.
There also needs to be clear and effective guidance for the operator of the completed building following the hand-over to ensure the building is operated and maintained the way it is designed.
Interview with John Deasy
Promoting innovation and new solutions
Hilson Moran at a glance:
Employees: 200 plus
One of the largest independent engineering consultancies in the UK
What major challenges is the industry facing?
JD: There are many challenges, but as we see it there are two prevalent ones. First politics. All governments pursue policy that positively impacts on environmental sustainability, but limited terms in office and regular changes to building regulations and legislation mean there is a need to balance short and long-term goals and ambitions. As engineers, we need to help our clients to comply with current regulation, but we also have a duty to encourage them to adopt viable and cost effective solutions that will help to deliver real carbon savings and efficiencies over the life of the building.
The second major challenge we see enhancing the perception of engineers. Engineering, particularly building services such as Mechanical, Engineering, Plumbing (MEP), is hidden out of plain sight and when it’s working as it should, it’s unnoticeable. The profession needs to find a way to showcase its important role in the design of buildings – by actively promoting innovation and new solutions.
We think the role of engineers will become more important in mitigating climate change and energy costs, guiding clients through the ever increasing regulatory and legislative environment.
Where do you think Hilson Moran will generate revenue and growth in the future?
JD: Buildings need to become more flexible and adaptable, to accommodate new ways of working
and change of configuration or even use as demands change during the life of the building. This in turn
requires innovation, allowing buildings to be more intelligent and technologies to be simpler but smarter.
The new mantra will be ‘less is more’.
We might also see a number of technologies not commonly associated with commercial buildings in future solutions too: photobioreactors, hydrogen fuel cells and smart glass to name a few.
When it comes to the supply chain, envisioning a project through technologies such as BIM will provide
a “one project, one team, one delivery” motto where risk and reward.
"As a leading multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy firm, we need to be at the cutting edge of the industry and so we’ve developed specialisms in low carbon infrastructure, refurbishment and retrofit."
What about commercial buildings – what should we expect to see in the near future?
JD: Growth areas mostly relate to promoting and achieving sustainability. We have created mechanisms to show our clients how different approaches can benefit them, in terms of cost savings, efficiencies and a reduced impact on climate change. Also, we expect to see more innovative ways to fund projects by working with clients, developers and funders to create funding mechanisms which encourage capital expenditure by offering greater longer term financial returns.
"Maintenance and aftercare will also become much more important in the supply chain, both in informing the designs at the start and delivering sustainability in the long term."
Are there particular areas that you expect Hilson Moran to focus on in the next 5-10 years?
JD: A key focus for us over the next 5-10 years is passive design and zero carbon development in line with the European Union’s 2020 distinction - to benefit both our European and international clients. Hilson Moran has also invested in experts in infrastructure because this will become the basis of successful, sustainable development and ensure strong performance over a scheme’s lifecycle. It will also ensure we create intelligent buildings that allow us to adapt.