Energy Efficiency and Construction: Aberdeen Society of Architects

Several organisations support Build It, each one committed to promoting, developing and helping the construction industry in different ways.

One such organisation is the Aberdeen Society of Architects, a chapter of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland which represents 200 chartered Architects in the local area.

Richard Slater is President of this wonderful organisation, and also Chairs this year's Build It Aberdeen conference. With the conference covering several themes, all of which are relevant to those working in the architecture industry, we spoke to Richard about one theme in particular – energy efficiency in new build homes.

"The significant challenges for architects concerning energy efficiency in new homes is cost and familiarity. Clients and developers (and their purchasers) are often more willing to spend a large part of their budget on their kitchen, for example. They subsequently try to cut costs on other elements in the fabric of the building, like insulation and glazing. The building regulations are all too often viewed as the target, rather than the minimum.

"However, there does appear to be a shift in the housing market. Purchasers and our clients are much more aware of the benefits of energy-efficient homes.

"This is where familiarity comes into play for some. In our office we often propose underfloor heating for new build houses and sometimes we get a client asking where they will hang their washing if they don't have a radiator, or where will they warm their bum! Buildings also need to be more airtight to conserve heat/energy. This results in increased mechanical ventilation requirements to remove moist air, but retain the heat within the building. The mechanical ventilation systems are often far more complicated than the average extract fans that people are used to. People are familiar with drafty houses and the idea that a building can be both airtight (to a degree) and breathable at the same time is often difficult to get their head around.

"Events like Build It allow delegates to discuss new technologies, share innovations, and for these things to become more familiar."

And speaking of Build It, how does Richard feel about Chairing the conference as it goes digital for the very first time?

"I think the digitisation of the conference will open the event up to a whole new audience who previously couldn't afford (time or cost) of taking a full day out of work. I've heard of offices planning to take several tickets, whereas previously there may only have been one person able to attend. The digitisation will also allow the audiences watching in offices (if we're back together by then) to discuss the topics without feeling like they're interrupting the speaker. They can potentially then formulate their questions through their offline discussions.

"I also think there is a huge opportunity in terms of marketing potential. There is essentially a captive audience online who will see the exhibited & showcased products and services of the sponsors and exhibitors. Previous years have seen an exhibition hall set up where delegates are encouraged to go to a stand to view a particular product. In contrast, this year, the stand will effectively be going to the delegate."

And Richard is keen to get as many architects as possible to tune in to the digital conference in November.

"Architects are obliged by the Architects Registration Board to keep their knowledge and skills relevant to their professional work up to date. The Aberdeen Society of Architects is a chapter of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, and our members are required to carry out a minimum number of hours of CPD every year. I feel that Build It is an ideal opportunity to gain those vital CPD hours in an informative and relevant way. We encourage all of our local members to attend, and we also promote the conference nationally to allow RIAS members from across the country the opportunity to attend."

Contact us for more information about how you can virtually attend Build It 2020.

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