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Letters This month, readers discuss the election of CIBSE officers; universities opening the doors to polymath students; and the Priority Schools Building Programme PortRegisSchool,Dorset PSBP is working A recent opinion poll, conducted by Architects Journal and reported in TES magazine, reveals a profession highly critical of the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP). The main concern of designers, shared by headteachers, is that poor build quality and finishing standards will lead to greater costs for schools and local councils further down the line. Schools designed under the PSBP banner are on tighter budgets than those built through Restructuring education Three years ago, the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) led by Fellow Professor Doug King started an initiative to create four centres of excellence in sustainable building design. These would aim to equip students with the skills to deliver zero-energy buildings successfully. The RAEs report highlighted seed funding of 30m to establish the centres and showed how they could deliver savings of more than 1bn by 2030. The report formed part of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills Low Carbon Construction Action Plan. Four universities were chosen to be the RAE Centres of Excellence University College London (UCL), Herriot-Watt, Loughborough, and Sheffield. Then came the disappointment: there was to be no 30m after all. Despite the lack of funding, the universities looked at how different disciplines could be brought together in the interests of more integrated building design. London South Bank University (LSBU) has since been invited to join the group and significant progress is being made in rethinking engineering education. One significant change has been UCL shifting from a rigid requirement for both maths and physics at A level in civil engineering2. The change came about after UCL discovered it was missing out on bright polymath students who had chosen not to follow pure science. With extra maths lessons at university, these students often even outperform their more traditionally qualified peers. This change has also improved the gender balance on engineering courses. Restructuring the courses to encourage collaboration widens the range of students teaching, which helps remove the tendency for siloes and improves the understanding between disciplines. A key step now is for the centres of excellence to disseminate knowledge to other universities Building Schools for the Future (BSF). However, by reducing the cost of each school or extension, more classrooms can be built for the same fixed sum of money. Clearly, any new constructions must aim to be of high build quality, with high standard internal finishings, which are fit for purpose now, and remain fit for purpose well into the future. The EFA, however, has an obligation to maximise the impact of its limited budget maximising the benefit per pupil, and maximising the number of pupils who benefit. To ensure costs are kept to a minimum, it is vital that designstage modelling takes into account the way in which a building is used. One cost-cutting approach to school construction which does not have to result in a reduction in standards is that of modular off-site construction. This is an efficient framework, in which time spent on site is greatly reduced by prefabricating building elements in quality-controlled, off-site factories. The BSF programme was an ambitious attempt to raise the standard of education buildings in the UK. Ultimately, it was unsustainable in terms of funding required. The PSPB sought to address this failure by distributing funds more appropriately to projects and areas where money is most needed. Dr Owen Connick Consulting engineer at Breathing Buildings Election thank you I feel deeply honoured to have been re-elected as a CIBSE vicepresident. A second term of office has a special significance because it builds on my efforts last year and, more importantly, is a direct result of positive feedback from many CIBSE members who kindly gave me their vote. I would like to say thank you to every member who participated in the election and, if you voted for me, an extra thank you is due. I would also like to thank my husband, John, and my two children, because without their support I would not be able to fulfil this role on behalf of my Institution. Catherine Simpson FCIBSE CIBSE vice-president and connect with engineers in the private sector. Andy Ford, professor of building systems engineering, LSBU References 1 The case for Centres of Excellence in sustainable building design, May 2012, RAE. 2 Women push for places on UCL engineering course after it dropped need for physics and maths A-level, Evening Standard, April 2015. CIBSE Journal welcomes readers letters, opinions, news stories, events listings, and proposals for articles. Please send all material for possible publication to:, or write to Alex Smith, editor, CIBSE Journal, CPL, 275 Newmarket Road, Cambridge, CB5 8JE, UK. We reserve the right to edit all letters.