“It is particularly ironic that the battle to save the world's remaining healthy ecosystems will be won or lost not in tropical forests or coral reefs that are threatened but on the streets of the most unnatural landscapes on the planet.”- Worldwatch Institute. 2007

Thursday, 12 August 2010


I have a newbike. Look – look at it.

It is a Montague Boston from Swissbike and has a flip flop rear wheel which means it can be either single speed or fixed gear which means it is cool. I have yet to try riding it fixt but in the meantime am practising keeping the pedals moving all the time so that it looks as if I am riding fixt (until the day someone shouts ‘do a skid’ at me and I can’t).

I think it may be the most beautiful thing I have ever owned. Not only is it cool and beautiful but it has a special trick.
…it folds!
And goes in a bag.
…Bike? What bike?
At last Richard Branson can drop his long standing vendetta against me for trying to (cheek of it!) travel on the train with a bike, because it’s not a bike – it’s a bag!

But the newbike is not the most exciting thing in my life, oh no. This is…
After applying and failing in 2009 and applying again in 2010, (and getting through the entire interview without using the words ‘free holiday’) I have been awarded the Ken Dale travel bursary from the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers, (CIBSE).

Building Services Engineers (of which I am one) are the people who make buildings work. We are the people who make sure that you’re not too hot, or too cold, that the air is fresh, that you have light and power, water and drainage. Without us buildings would be cold empty shells. Nowadays we’re also responsible for ensuring that buildings use as little energy as possible and that they use the energy they do use efficiently. And by 2016 we’ll be the ones making sure that all new homes are zero carbon, that by 2018 all public buildings are too and that by 2019 all new buildings are. We don’t quite know how yet, or even exactly what we mean by zero-carbon but we’ll do it. We are the unsung heroes of construction because when we do our job right, nobody notices.

The Ken Dale bursary allows an engineer to spend up to a month travelling outside their home country to research a topic of importance to themselves, their employers, the industry and the environment. And this year I have won it (did I mention that yet?). So this September that means I get to spend a month travelling, on trains and with the newbike, around some great places looking at some interesting things, meeting clever people and working very very hard indeed and not being on holiday at all.

Thanks for joining me.

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