Building services engineers are responsible for ensuring that the electrical, mechanical and telecoms aspects of new buildings perform effectively and efficiently.

The job may include tasks such as: designing and maintaining air conditioning, elevators and other mechanical systems; distributing electricity and water supply; and providing lighting and heating.

Building services engineers are responsible, in short, for all the functional characteristics of a building that take it from being an empty shell to a comfortable living space. In their work, they need to consider: health and safety features, such as emergency procedures and security; sustainability; and cost effectiveness. Building services engineering projects can vary from designing the air filtration system in a forensic lab to engineering the flood lights in a sports stadium.

Typical work activities include:

  • designing the layout of energy distribution, water pipes and ventilation systems and identifying relevant materials

  • drawing up plans using computer-aided design and building information modelling software

  • carrying out tests on systems and making changes to plans where necessary

  • monitoring the installation of services and managing their maintenance once the building is completed

  • making sure that all building services meet health and safety requirements and environmental legislation.

  • negotiating contracts with clients, particularly in consultancy work

  • liaising with plumbers, electricians, surveyors, architectural technologists and other construction professionals

  • giving presentations and writing reports highlighting the practical implications of the architect’s designs

  • promoting energy efficiency and other sustainability initiatives

  • managing teams of people

  • Put simplistically: building services engineers that work for construction consultancies tend to focus on the design of the systems; those that work for construction contractors oversee how the designs are implemented on site; and those that work for facilities management or property companies will maintain or repair the services.

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