As we look forward to the start of 2016, we reflect on yet another eventful year for the AECB and the exciting prospect of the New Year ahead. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.
A highlight for me this year was to proudly welcome many of you to Yorkshire in July, for the AECB Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting, at The University of Sheffield. It was yet another memorable event that delivered a wide range of sessions. My thanks go to long standing AECB member Professor Fionn Stevenson, Head of The University of Sheffield School of Architecture, who offered the University as a venue and made the opening address. AECB members were well received and catered for and feedback was that of yet another successful conference. It is always great to catch up with so many AECB members and share their enthusiasm for sustainable construction. The `World Café’ session was a tremendous success, stimulating ideas and debate and we hope to repeat the session at next year’s conference at The University of East Anglia in July 2016. Next year’s presentations and activities will be based on: Commercial Projects; Retrofit; Practical/Self Build and tours of the iconic buildings on the Universities campus. Look out for the conference announcements in Network and on the AECB website.
Network, the AECB’s monthly e-bulletin, is emailed to all AECB members and has been compiled by Chris Lord-Smith for the past 13 years, providing a valuable resource of events, information, contacts and activities. Chris is stepping down as editor and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of members for the work he has put into Network. Chris has served the AECB in many roles over the years as a Trustee, Secretary to the Board and he has represented the AECB at many events across the country. If you do not receive Network please do let us know.
The CarbonLite Retrofit (CLR) programme pilot has been rolled out in stages to a number of AECB members, as this important piece of work nears completion. It has been an ambitious task and I would like to thank all contributors for their input into what could be a defining piece of work for the AECB that will set the standard for future building refurbishment in the UK.
On a wider note, we have seen dramatic changes in UK Government policy, shifting away from sustainability. Particularly affected was the renewables industry, which has been adversely hit by the slashing of Government subsidies, setting the renewables sector into a tailspin. Similarly the building refurbishment sector took a severe blow when the Government pulled the plug of the ill-fated Green Deal and with no replacement in place, the refurbishment industry affectively suspended investment in retrofit activity until Government policy becomes clearer. We await the Bonfield Review with interest, when it reports back to Government in the spring of 2016.
The Climate Change Summit in Paris recently has started to firm up international policies and harden politician’s resolve across the world to change the way we treat the planet. There will be a lot of work to do to fashion policy here in the UK and the AECB will be doing its bit to affect a better outcome for our future. The AECB can have a positive influence and I urge you, our membership, to get involved so collectively we can make a difference.
Wishing you all the best for the season and a prosperous New Year.
AECB Chair 2015/2016
Recently I found myself describing the AECB as ‘the voice of reason in an increasingly mad industry’ and had to stop to ask myself what I meant – it’s the context that is the crazy bit.
We know that to design and make good buildings we need a framework which encourages thoughtful well planned and executed work, backed up by thorough research and sharing when things haven’t worked out as intended. But the contractual, regulatory and training framework we have in place in the UK reinforces just the opposite!
So all the more reason to follow our instincts and get on with doing the AECB kind of projects, where progressive clients, thoughtful designers and well organised and skillful contractors work together. I expect that 2016 is going to be a more outward looking year for the AECB, with the launch of CLR, and, in the absence of the Code for Sustainable Homes and the Green Deal, more people are looking for the knowledge and experience that AECB members can provide.
I feel encouraged by the signing of COP, I hope we can in our different ways keep up the pressure, so that it does influence policy.
But most important, congratulate yourselves on all the great work you have done this year, I’m always proud to say I’m a member of the AECB, and to be associated with you all, I wish you the very best projects in 2016, and look forward to hearing all about them!
Vice Chair 2015/2016