A new focus on building sustainability is changing the working norms of building services engineers. So what do these building engineering services require and what skills do you need?
Building services engineers design and install all elements of a building to bring it to life. From lighting and sound to elevators, escalators, and security systems, they are all under control. Working with architects and other construction professionals, they build a variety of buildings, with projects ranging from small schools to the largest offices in cities.
Buildings are huge consumers of materials and energy. They contribute around half of the UK’s CO2 emissions, meaning engineers are at the forefront of the fight to create a more sustainable environment. The main concern of building services engineers is not only to design an efficient building but one that consumes the least amount of energy and has a low impact on the environment.
So, what exactly does a building services engineer do?
Historically, the role was to install all services within the space allocated by the architect, but the approach has changed. As engineers play a greater role in driving sustainability, involvement in the early stages of construction is an important part of the job. They influence the shape and orientation of buildings to take advantage of local conditions and maximize renewable technologies.
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Engineers may be in the office or the field, but most will spend their time in different locations. Typical office tasks include the production of 2D and 3D designs, computer modeling and simulation of buildings, and new technology research. Outside the office, engineers review designs with architects, tour construction sites, and meet with manufacturers to explore new products.
A building services engineer must be able to work as part of a team, have an analytical mind, and be open to problem-solving. Strong skills in information technology, modeling software, computer-aided design (CAD), and drafting are essential. Strong written and oral communication skills are required as the role is to interact, communicate and provide solutions with clients. Applicants should also be interested in the function of the building. There are many online resources available for learning about the construction and development of the industry.
To start your degree, you need at least a C in GCSEs in Science, English, and Maths. To advance to a technical level, you can study a paid apprenticeship on the job. Alternative BTEC routes include National, Diploma, or A-levels in STEM subjects.
Upgrading to the Certified Engineer level requires an accredited engineering degree and further study to a master’s degree. Although a Building Services Engineering degree is offered, most graduate programs are open to anyone with any engineering background. Large companies are increasingly accepting candidates with scientific and athletic backgrounds and offering on-the-job training.
For example, big companies annually recruit science and engineering graduates for the Construction Services Graduate Employment Program. Graduates entering the four-year program will undertake a postgraduate training program accredited by the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) which is expected to register with the UK Engineering Council and gain Chartered Engineer status.