03 March 2022
As Terry Sharp prepares to step down as BCIA president, he reflects on his two years at the helm of the organisation that represents the UK’s building energy management systems (BEMS) sector.
Sharp replaced Jon Belfield as president in March 2020 and just a few weeks later the UK went into lockdown with the outbreak of Covid-19. This set the tone for an unprecedented period which he would help the BCIA and its members adapt to. He said: “It is only when we are presented with an unexpected challenge that we really discover what we are capable of, and as the world in general got used to the idea of lockdowns, working from home, online meetings, social distancing, self-isolation, track-and-trace and everything else that Covid brought with it, we at the BCIA also learned what we could do in testing circumstances.”
As the BCIA adopted a ‘business as usual’ approach, some changes were, of course, unavoidable and its full programme of training was quickly moved online, as were meetings, seminars and even trade shows. The BCIA Awards event was also held virtually for the first time and Sharp believes it was a great example of the ability of BCIA members to respond and adapt in adverse circumstances: “Not being able to hold a live event was disappointing not just for me but for any individual or company nominated for an award,'' he said. "That said, the enthusiasm and determination to still make it a night to remember from everybody who attended the event virtually showed the building controls industry in a really positive light.”
Sharp also believes the lockdown periods highlighted buildings that are not running as efficiently as they could be and hopes that some important lessons have been learned for the future. He explained: “With so many commercial buildings being left largely unoccupied, it really gave an insight into how unprepared many businesses were in terms of managing their premises efficiently during these periods and in general. This has underlined the importance of good communication between facilities managers and controls specialists to ensure a building is performing to its maximum efficiency as well as serving the needs of its occupants.”
With training and skills development playing a big part in the BCIA’s key objectives, Sharp says his proudest moment as president was the long-awaited arrival of the Level 4 Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) Controls Engineer Apprenticeship, saying: “Its official launch in April 2021 was the result of more than four years of hard work by the Trailblazer Employer Group, which included a number of BCIA members. I believe this apprenticeship programme will go a long way in responding to the sector’s skills shortage and heralds a bright future for the industry.”
He concluded: “I would like to thank everybody for their hard work and assistance during what has been an unpredictable two years for reasons outside of our control. Your continued efforts have played a big part in enabling the BEMS sector to continue to thrive.”