Building services engineering (BSE) is a professional engineering discipline that strives to achieve a safe and comfortable indoor environment whilst minimizing the environmental impact of a building.
Alternative titles are "mechanical, electrical and plumbing" (MEP) engineering, "technical building services", "building engineering" or "facilities and services planning engineering". The term BSE is widely used in Commonwealth countries (incl. United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and Australia), but in the United States of America, Asian countries Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the MEP engineers are known as "services planners".
In some countries, a "building services engineer" is a Senior MEP engineer with experience in the installation of equipment in Buildings Construction, Building Maintenance, Management, integration of electrical, mechanical, fire, hydraulic, security and communications building services, who manages and delivers the integrated detailed design of multiple disciplines so as to ensure that the building is delivered in a "least cost technically acceptable" manner, with emphasis on both the construction costs and the operational costs.
Building services engineers are responsible for the design, installation, operation and monitoring of the technical services in buildings (including HVAC Engineering, mechanical, electrical, also known as MEP or HVAC), in order to ensure the safe, comfortable and environmentally friendly operation. Building services engineers work closely with other construction professionals such as architects, structural engineers and quantity surveyors. Building services engineers influence the architectural design of building, in particular facades, in relation to energy efficiency and indoor environment, and can integrate local energy production (e.g. façade-integrated photovoltaics) or community-scale energy facilities (e.g. district heating). Building services engineers therefore play an important role in the design and operation of energy-efficient buildings (including green buildings, passive houses, and Plus-houses, and Zero-energy buildings). With buildings accounting for about a third of all carbon emissions and over a half of the global electricity demand, building services engineers play an important role in the move to a low-carbon society, hence mitigate global warming.
The career path of a building services engineer can take a very wide range of directions. Within the broad field of building services engineering, new roles are emerging, for example specialization in renewable energy, sustainability, low-carbon technologies, energy management, building automation, and building information modeling (BIM). Building services engineers increasingly seek status as accredited LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method), or CIBSE Low Carbon Consultants (LCC) and Energy Assessors (LCEA) auditors, in addition to their status as chartered/professional engineer.
Building services engineering encompasses much more than just MEP or HVAC), but also the following:
Examples of roles/duties a Building Services Engineer may have include:
The two most notable professional bodies are:
Building services engineers typically possess an academic degree in civil engineering, architectural engineering, building services engineering, mechanical engineering or electrical engineering. The length of study for such a degree is usually 3–4 years for a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) and 4–5 years for a Master of Engineering (MEng).
In the United Kingdom, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) accredits university degrees in Building Services Engineering. In the United States, ABET accredits degrees.
Many tasks in building services engineering involve the use of engineering software, for example to design/model or draw solutions. The most common types of tool are whole building energy simulation and CAD (traditionally 2D) or the increasingly popular Building Information Modeling (BIM) which is 3D. 3D BIM software can have integrated tools for Building Services calculations such sizing ventilation ducts or estimating noise levels. Another use of 3D/4D BIM is that empowers more informed decision making and better coordination between different disciplines, such as 'collision testing'.