BESA Conference tackles the industry’s challenges

BESA Conference, fire safety, Brexit, Aldous Bill, Indoor Air Quality, Training, Refrigerants
David Frise, BESA chief executive

After a year of extraordinary events and unprecedented change, the industry is preparing to gather at the Park Plaza Victoria hotel in London on November 1 to debate where we go from here.

The financial implications from the collapse of Carillion continue to resonate throughout supply chains up and down the country as does the technical fall out from the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Also, the way engineering training is funded and delivered is going through a period of major transition.

All these issues and more will be debated in depth at the BESA National Conference ‘Engineering the Future’, which is taking place with the support of headline sponsor Milwaukee Tools and is designed to help BESA members build resilience into their businesses during a period of radical economic and technical change.

With arguments raging over he cost of replacing combustible cladding on thousands of residential tower blocks, the BESA Conference will seek to refocus the Grenfell Tower debate on the wider engineering issues at the heart of the tragedy.

“Grenfell was a wake-up call for everyone involved in the design, construction and operation of buildings – and the BESA Conference is an opportunity to focus on the crucial lessons we are learning from this terrible event,” says BESA chief executive David Frise.

“The cladding has emerged as a major factor in the fire, but the next building tragedy could well be caused or exacerbated by something else,” he adds. “It is so important that we don’t lose sight of the fundamental issues unearthed by the Hackitt Review.


A panel debate on the lessons from Grenfell and featuring experts drawn from across the industry will take centre stage at the Park Plaza. Fire safety – meeting the Hackitt challenge will be jointly hosted by BESA and the Smoke Control Association (SCA) and will be followed by a technical seminar considering the future of fire-rated products and new fire resistant materials.

The conference will also feature a broad debate on Brexit and its implications for the building engineering sector. So far, the Brexit Panel includes Lord Stunnell, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for construction and chair of the House of Lords working group reviewing the impact of Brexit on construction; high profile ‘remainer’ Tom Cole, head of policy at Open Britain; and the construction reformer Mark Farmer, whose presentation at last year’s conference caused such a stir.

“By the time of the conference, we will be only a few months away from the UK officially leaving the European Union. Whether or not you support Brexit, it’s happening; and the industry needs to be ready,” said BESA’s public affairs and policy manager Alexi Ozioro.

Ozioro will also be interviewing the government’s Small Business Commissioner Paul Uppal in a special public session during the conference. Dubbed the ‘late payment tsar’, Mr Uppal will explain how his office can help companies resolve disputes, how effective his role has been so far and where he is trying to make a difference in the wake of Carillion.

BESA Conference, fire safety, Brexit, Aldous Bill, Indoor Air Quality, Training, Refrigerants


Delegates will also hear about the latest developments in BESA’s work on the Aldous Bill. This proposed legislation seeks to protect retention payments from main contractor insolvency in order to safeguard subcontractors’ cash flow in the event of any future Carillion-style collapses.

Another key area to be addressed by the Conference will be Indoor Air Quality and the potential implications of a new Clean Air Act. A cross-party group of MPs recently warned the government that it must not use Brexit as an excuse to water down efforts to address air pollution.

This, along with many other aspects of managing occupant well-being, is adding to the growing weight of responsibility faced by the facilities management profession as a whole, which will be addressed during a session at the Park Plaza chaired by FM guru Geoff Prudence. The importance of the profession showing ‘leadership’ and increased professionalism will be highlighted during this seminar.

As its responsibilities grow, so the sector’s skills needs are evolving so BESA Training will lead a session on apprenticeships – with a key focus on how BESA is helping the industry equip its workforce with qualifications for life via new style qualifications.

The air conditioning and refrigeration industries will also be well served by the BESA Conference, which comes at the end of a year that has seen unprecedented upheaval in the refrigerant marketplace. Graeme Fox, who is head of the industry’s professional register Refcom, will lead a session on The Future of Refrigerants and look at how the F Gas regulations will be policed after the UK leaves the European Union.

The specification and business generation platform Constructionline is also organising special ‘Meet the Buyer’ sessions during the conference with the aim of connecting BESA members with clients. This will include a special session aimed at helping theNHS secure the right partners to help it deliver its widereaching programme of building improvements.

For more information and to book your place go to the link below.

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