Building services engineering may cease to exist as a profession in 20 years' time because of technological advancements in the sector, CIBSE president Terry Wyatt has warned
Wyatt sounded the alarm in his presidential address at Broadway House in London last week. He said that unless building services engineers responded to rapid changes within construction, the profession would die out and the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers would cease to exist as a substantial member organisation by 2020.

Advances in technology are the biggest threat to the building services profession, according to Wyatt. He said: "Why use a building services consultant and then a contractor to calculate the heating, cooling and lighting needs of a building, then make installation drawings, and specify the equipment needed? New software can already do most of this, as well as price the job and transfer requirements in detail to manufacturers."

Wyatt warned that unless services engineers responded quickly to the increasing sophistication of computer software and the trend toward prefabricated units then a substantial part of their future earnings work would disappear. He said: "Our rapid rise will merely have preceded an even faster plummet into obscurity."

The rapid rise of services engineers will merely have preceded a greater plummet into obscurity

Terry Wyatt, President of CIBSE

To prepare for the future, Wyatt said building services engineers "would have to embrace new working methods and retrain". He added: "Services engineers will need to get involved in the building concept design and in making the building work over its lifetime."

In his address, Wyatt also berated construction for failing to invest in research and development. He said that the industry spent "a pathetic" 0.15% of industry output on R&D. He said: "I believe that any company that is unwilling or unable to invest in adequate R&D is doomed, and has little chance of making a decent living within the next 5-10 years."