CSA, 25 years on
Commissioning of buildings services has seen the importance with which it is regarded grow over the years — in no small measure due to the efforts of the Commissioning Specialists’ Association since it was set up 25 years ago. Vice-chairman Andrew Watkin shares his reflections.
I am very privileged to be taking over the chairmanship of the Commissioning Specialists’ Associations (CSA) during a very special time — its 25th anniversary year — and would like to give an insight into what it means to me on a professional and personal level.
I started in the building-services commissioning industry in the late 1990s — first as a ladder carrier but rapidly progressing to a pitot pusher!
I was somewhat perplexed by the 3-letter acronyms for various pieces of kit — including AHU, FCU, DRV, VAV, VCD, OBD, BMS, MEP, VRV etc.
I was very fortunate to have started work with a great group of engineers. They were always very willing to show me the ropes as I had never set foot on a construction site before. They always took the time to teach me and explain how things worked. Luckily my first job was a long-term project, very close to home and was a great learning curve for me. My company was also very good and provided me with a folder full of various codes and guides for me to refer back to.
I expressed a desire to learn the theory behind what we doing on site and was shown a little red folder that belonged to another 3-letter acronym — the CSA, otherwise known as the Commissioning Specialists Association. That red A5 folder was the Commissioning Engineers Compendium.
My company enrolled me on a distance learning course. It was exactly what I was looking for and provided further insight into what our industry was about.
As I continued to learn and progress in my role, I soon realised there was a lot more to our industry and to my role. Once again the CSA proved useful and had a path of development that gives a step-by-step model of how and what you need to progress to the next level of your career.
I was very fortunate to have such a great grounding, and it was this grounding that helped to fuel my passion for training and belief in the CSA.
Nearly 10 years ago I had the opportunity to join the main committee of the CSA; at 25 years old, I was one of the younger members of the committee.
Everyone on the committee was very welcoming, and it was great to meet some of the founding fathers of the CSA and share in their passion and drive for our industry and learn from their experience. Here I truly learnt what the CSA was about.
10 years later, I am about to become chairman [11 June] and can continue to help and support the association and our industry, especially during a very exciting and memorable time in our history — our 25th anniversary.
The origins of the CSA date back to the late 1980s, when a number of leading commissioning companies had discussions concerning industry training and promotion of recognition for commissioning specialists. Shortly after a BSRIA seminar they decided to form an association — the Commissioning Specialists’ Association.
The inaugural meeting was held in 1990. In attendance were key figures in the industry — including Chris Davey, Andy Britnell, Roger Clark, Graham Barker, Mike Watson, Phil Harvey, Terry Day, John Coppin and Ron Oughton. Many of them continue to support the association today.
The chairman serves for a 2-year period and is succeeded by the vice-chairman who takes over the role. The chairman and vice-chairman are supported by the dedication and hard work of the secretary and office staff, who are always available to offer support and advice concerning the association and our industry.
The CSA is now widely recognised by various trade bodies including CIBSE, BSRIA and the Building & Engineering Services Association (B&ES).
We have been involved with BSRIA in the development of new Commissioning Guides. We have also had discussions with Government departments regarding climate change, building efficiency and commissioning and their effect on legislation.
Also in 2007 at the CIBSE National Conference we signed the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’, which was built on the previous work between the two organisations as ‘partners in building services excellence’.
The CSA now has over 750 members, including individual, corporate and associate members.
We are also expanding in other parts of the world and have recently opened a chapter which is known as the CSA-GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council), which is made up of commissioning companies working in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE. This is as well as the continuing works of members in Australia and New Zealand.
The hard work of all of the previous chairmen, committee chairmen, founders, committee members, honorary members, office staff and our treasurer have really pushed our association forward, which culminated in us moving into our new office in May 2014.
The last few years have been really busy for us all, but we are continuing to move forward and it is exciting times for us. A key event in the celebration of our 25th anniversary is our first gala awards and dinner [11 June]. We are also developing online training to help reach other continents and also make it easier for home-grown talents to learn. We will also be setting up new chapters further afield. There is a lot to look forward to.
We would like to thank all of our members and those who serve on the various committees and who have supported the CSA both now and over the past 25 years. We look forward to the next 25!
Andrew Watkin is a director of Airtech Premier Ltd and vice-chairman of the CSA. He becomes chairman on 11 June 2015.