BESA conference and annual awards

BESA future leaders
The BESA future leaders group of young engineers

The government’s ‘flip-flopping’ on net zero and infrastructure should not be used as an excuse to delay investment that will improve the functionality of buildings, according to President of the Building Engineering Services (BESA), Claire Curran.

Speaking at BESA’s annual conference and awards 2023 in London, which Modern Building Services attended as a media sponsor, Claire made the announcement in her opening speech, where more than 300 delegates gathered.

“It makes no difference that the government has got cold feet over its net zero timetable and the cost of vital infrastructure,” she said.

“We still have a built environment that is desperate for an upgrade.

“We need look no further than the ‘crumbly concrete’ scandal in schools and hospitals for proof that our existing building stock is not being properly maintained. Vital investment in refurbishment and retrofit has fallen so far behind the curve that many of our built assets are no longer fit for purpose.”

‘Be more courageous and honest’

Dr Jo Jolly, Head of Project Futures at the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), called for delivery teams to be more “courageous and honest” to achieve sustainability goals and avoid the continual “race to the bottom” on quality and cost.

In her keynote presentation, she said too many members of project teams felt afraid to call out poor working practices because of the “toxic culture” that affected many projects.

Future Leaders

Creating a more diverse, skilled workforce was another theme for the conference, with BESA’s Future Leaders group of young engineers taking a leading role. They also gathered information for the post-conference feedback.

Claire Curran said: “They are the ones who will benefit the most if we get things right and deliver a built environment fit for their future but by the same token they have the most to lose if we fail.”


New industry guide

A new industry guide to mould and condensation in buildings was launched at the conference. The guide is the result of a collaboration between BESA’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Group and Mitsubishi Electric.

Rebuilding the NHS

The conference concluded with a keynote presentation from Lord Markham, the Minister in charge of delivering the government’s programme to rebuild the NHS estate by 2030. He urged the industry to work with his department to introduce greater levels of product and design standardisation that would improve efficiency and speed up project delivery.

Industry Awards

Many of the movers & shakers of industry then attended the BESA Industry Awards after the Conference.

President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement went to Rab Fletcher, BESA’s Immediate Past President. With more than 30 years’ experience in construction and building services engineering, including holding senior positions and managing multi-million-pound local authority contracts, he still modestly describes himself as “a time served plumber”.

Rab is a passionate advocate of training and apprenticeships and continues to give freely and generously of his time and expertise for the benefit of all BESA members. As well as being a former BESA President, his other titles have included Chairman of BESA Scotland and founder and Chair of the Association’s Local Authority Forum.

Other category winners 2023 included:

1. BSE Technician / Project Engineer Apprentice of the Year: Aidan Whetham, Vital Energi Ltd

2. Electro Technical Apprentice of the Year: Gary Hall Dalkia

3. H&V Industrial & Commercial Level 2/BSE Installer Apprentice of the Year: Liam Cowell, Dalkia

4. H&V Industrial & Commercial Level 3/BSE Craftsperson Apprentice of the Year: William Favill,

Derry Building Services

5. RACHP Apprentice of the Year sponsored by Mitsubishi Electric: Jack Newton, Crowther & Shaw

6. Service and Maintenance Apprentice of the Year: Matt Morrison, BGIS Global Integrated Solutions

7. RACHP World Skills: Adam Donges, Cosham Refrigeration

8. National Apprentice of the Year sponsored by Wolseley: Aidan Whetham, Vital Energi

9. Specialist Groups Award of Excellence: Mark Snell, Dalkia UK

10. Technical Innovation of the Year: Dalkia

11. Net Zero Initiative of the Year: RI Cruden

12. Indoor Air Quality of the Year, sponsored by Nuaire: Arup

13. Diversity and Inclusion Initiative of the Year: ISS

14. Distributor of the Year: Cool Designs

15. Building Safety Act of the Year, sponsored by BMTFA: HE Simm and Son

16. Contractor of the Year, sponsored by Smith Brothers Stores: Geoffrey Robinson

17. Small Budget Project of the Year under £500,00: Accor Hotels, Aether Compliance

18. Big Budget Project of the Year over £500,00: DSA6 Wakefield Distribution Hub, Dalkia

19. Outstanding Service of the Year: Steve Marsh, BES

20. Training Initiative of the Year, sponsored by Zehnder: FP Hurley & Sons

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