Past President of SLL named new CIBSE President

(UK) – Kevin Kelly, Past President of the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL), has been named as the new President of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).

Kelly, who served as President of the SLL in 2013/14, succeeds Stuart McPherson as CIBSE President, and will in turn be succeeded by Kevin Mitchell, Global Practice Leader – Building Services Engineering at Mott Macdonald.

In his Presidential Address, delivered online on 6 May, Kelly called for a more diverse profession to help “build resilience against future crises and better respond to the pandemic and climate change”.

He pointed to the “warning shots” of the SARS, MERS and Ebola outbreaks that should have spurred an international effort to prepare for a pandemic. Instead, lulled into a false sense of security by the containment of these warning shots, he felt the world was woefully unprepared to deal with the arrival of Covid-19.

Kelly used the analogy of a sleeping frog – a frog immersed in water that is being heated will sleep until it is boiled – to describe this behaviour, and speculated that climate change threatens to be the next, most significant sleeping frog of all.

Outlining the central role being taken by CIBSE experts in analysing and responding to the threats posed by Climate Change, he warned that the industry needs to take a lead in building the strongest possible defence.

In his view, this demands positive action to improve inclusivity and diversity within the field of building services engineering. Kelly outlined his own experience of combatting not just overt discrimination but unconscious bias and stated his commitment to using his presidential term to support positive change.

As a University Professor who started his career as an apprentice electrician, Kelly is well suited to encouraging diverse routes to qualification and entry into a Chartered profession. He warned that challenging the status quo will require a willingness “to have the awkward and difficult conversations ahead and lean into them in order to change our industry for the better by making it more inclusive and welcoming to all.”