Climate action: what CIBSE is doing

The Institution has started mapping its activities around climate change, to allow members and others to understand and access the work being done. Julie Godefroy breaks down the main areas of action

Recent events and reports make it clear that, collectively, we need to do more to reduce carbon emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

CIBSE has long been active on the issue of tackling climate change and promoting building performance, but – to increase our efforts – we have started mapping our current and planned activities in areas where we have a duty – and the ability – to lead as a professional institution.

This is a first draft. We are very keen to involve our members, other institutions and the wider industry

This is only a first draft. We are very keen to involve our members, other professional institutions and the wider industry.

Please send your thoughts on these initial ideas, additional suggestions for how we could help you, and where you could support our activities, to


✔ What we currently do
Further activity, already planned
>> Possible further activity, to be explored
■ Collaboration with others

As a professional institution

Code of Professional Conduct: This includes: ‘Members shall promote the principles of sustainability and seek to prevent avoidable adverse impacts on the environment and society’
✔ Annual report on activities and membership
■ ✔ Collaboration on industry-wide guidance. For example, RIBA Plan of Work and Green Overlay
> Increase awareness of the Code of Conduct
■  >> Adopt a common reporting standard across professional institutions – for example, The Edge good practice reporting standard

Events, dissemination and awards

Regular reporting on low carbon policy and buildings through our website, Journal, blog and newsletter
✔ Regular CIBSE events on low carbon policy and buildings
Since 2012, a requirement for in-use performance data for the CIBSE awards
 ✔ Initial steps with RIBA to better align the sustainability criteria in our awards
> Increase our coverage of retrofit design and skills
■ > Seek more collaboration with other professional institutions on sustainability awards

Practising what we preach – CIBSE’s Balham office

Disclosure: Display Energy Certificate
Energy efficiency measures and energy monitoring
Fuel cell since 2015
Sustainability policy covering our activities, premises, staff, procurement, and transport
> Planned improvements to our existing buildings, for better summer comfort, and health and wellbeing of staff
>> Better use of the opportunities of Balham to test and demonstrate improvements in the performance of existing buildings

Regulatory framework

Regular engagement with policy consultations, including Building Regulations, retrofit, energy efficiency and low carbon heating
Position statements – for example, Building Regulations Part L and F, and overheating
Members of Part L, Part F and overheating working groups for the 2019 Building Regulations review
 Collaboration with other organisations to align our recommendations where possible – for example, Green Building Council, the London Energy Transformation Initiative
> Review and produce new policy statements – for example, planning and climate change
> Seek more opportunities to collaborate with other institutions to send consistent policy messages

Technical guidance

Extensive coverage of low-energy and low carbon buildings in CIBSE guidance; recent publications include the revised Code of Practice for heat networks (CP1) and upcoming Guide L – Sustainability, 2019
Coverage of climate-change adaptation in existing guidance and weather files
Further guidance on delivering building performance, including building simulation
 Collaboration with others – for example, BSI working groups on retrofit standards
> Extend our guidance in low carbon buildings, with priority themes including:
> heat pumps
> heat networks: low-temperature, ambient loops, and low carbon network retrofits
> demand management
> reducing plant requirements for demand management and lower embodied carbon
> retrofit
> microclimates
> Explore opportunities for producing and promoting guidance jointly with other institutions


CIBSE accreditation of engineering courses, including criteria covering low carbon design
CIBSE support to the RAEng Centres of Excellence in sustainable building design
Reinvigorate the RAEng Centres for Excellence
>> Give further prominence to low carbon design in CIBSE accreditation of courses


> Research on low carbon buildings, climate-change adaptation and future weather files
> Updated energy benchmarks and benchmarking tool to encourage continuous improvement
> Continuous review of research areas to align with needs for future guidance – for example, retrofit, circular economy, fuel cells, hydrogen boilers
>> BSERT special issues on zero carbon and retrofit

Competence and training

Regular training and CPDs covering climate change, low carbon buildings, and building performance; certification such as ESOS, Low Carbon Energy Assessor
 Joint training with Green Register on collaborative design and overheating risk
> Review training programme in line with new technical guidance
 > Explore further opportunities for multidisciplinary training with other organisations – for example, retrofit, professional ethics
>> Introduce mandatory CPDs on climate change and zero-carbon buildings.