Cut out the cutting-and-pasting please

Published:  06 September, 2016

Copy and pasting of designs is stifling innovation in the industry

The estimable Hywel Davies, technical director of CIBSE, introduced the new CIBSE Guide B to the readers of MBS in August.  As he pointed out, it has been some time in the development, though understandably for such an extensive document.

In summary, Guide B ‘represents a consensus on what constitutes good practice in the practical design of HVAC systems’. The Guide is comprehensive and now also offers a range of advice on HVAC systems for buildings and activities such as schools, hotels, hospitals, clean rooms and sports centres.

Let us hope then that engineers are quick to download or purchase their hard copy of this document and start using it immediately – because there has been far too much cutting-and-pasting of designs going on over the past few years. It’s been the industry’s dirty little secret for a while, though perhaps not such a secret in reality. Anecdotal evidence is out there that some designs have been knocking about for decades.

Not only does this do an injustice to the skills of engineers who are trying to do a good job; it also stifles innovation. And that’s not simply about buying new products to try them out. It means that more energy efficient products and new techniques are overlooked simply because of, let’s call it like it is, laziness.

In the busy world we live in, where the price for work is cut to the bone, it’s tempting to also cut corners at every stage, including design. It’s quicker to do the same old thing than to research a new approach every time. And yes, doubtless there are some elements that are common to every office, for example. But there has to be a way to find a middle ground between a standard process for speed, and a proper approach to design that does not end up being used year after year.

CIBSE has put a lot of effort into the new Guide, and there is no shortage of advice from other equally reliable sources. So I think it’s time to quit the cut-and-paste habit once and for all, and embrace the opportunities to produce buildings that perform really well.

Karen Fletcher is Director of Keystone Communications. 



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