“Imagine yourself in the most fabulous building in the world.
Now take away the lighting, heating and ventilation, the lifts and escalators, acoustics, plumbing, power supply and energy management systems, the security and safety systems and you are left with a cold, dark, uninhabitable shell.
Everything inside a building which makes it safe and comfortable to be in comes under the title of building services.
A building must do what it was designed to do – not just provide shelter but also be an environment where people can live, work and achieve. Building services are what make a building come to life.”
About the sector
The building services engineering sector comprises of a wide range of skilled, technical and professional roles dealing with design, installation and maintenance of building services and environmental technologies.
At a time when environmental sustainability in the design and operation of buildings is increasingly important, building services engineers play a crucial role in liaising with architects and other design engineers to ensure that the carbon footprint of new and existing buildings is minimised.
Global and regional overview
The Global Construction 2030 report suggests that the construction sector will grow by 85% to $15.5tn by 2030, with the largest growth in China, the US and India.
The UK is predicted to become the largest market in Europe and the sixth largest globally. Some of the key graduate employers in this sector are large international engineering and design consultancies who work on high profile projects across the globe, generating exciting opportunities for graduates.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are also a wide range of local and regional opportunities with smaller and specialist consultants and contractors in the UK working not only on new buildings but on renovation and retrofitting of existing buildings to help them become more energy efficient.
I want to use my degree skills
In addition to students who have studied building services engineering related courses (for example architectural environmental engineering), there are also opportunities for mechanical and electrical engineers to specialise in this sector. The most common graduate job roles will be:
Other jobs titles or more specialised / related roles may include:
- Sustainability engineer
- Environmental engineer
- Acoustics engineer
- Public health engineer
- Building physics
- BIM/CAD technician
- Fire engineer
- Facilities manager
- Project manager
- Construction manager
In most cases, a relevant construction or engineering degree or equivalent will be required for these posts, although science subjects such as physics and maths may also be accepted.
Spotlight On... Construction
Alexander Stephens, a mechanical engineering graduate from the University, talks about:
- his role as a building services engineer at Bouygues, a UK construction company
- why he chose a career in construction
- the skills he developed during his degree that he uses every day in his job
Where do I find employers and vacancies?
Most opportunities in this sector will be found with engineering and construction companies. Employers in this area tend to be divided into either consultants, who take the lead on the design process; or contractors, who manage the on-site construction and installation.
House builders, property developers and surveyors, facilities management firms, local authorities, universities and research institutes may also offer relevant opportunities in this area.
Building services engineering is a key interface in the design of the built environment, which involves liaising with specialists from all engineering fields to provide the optimum level of comfort for a building user.
Our clients are expecting us more than ever to take an active role in this, which involves building relations and understanding the roles of architects, structural engineers, project managers and cost consultants to deliver our solutions
Chris Everell, WSP
Large engineering consultancies include:
UK-wide companies with bases in Nottingham include:
Directories of companies
Firms of all sizes specialising in various aspects of building services can be found in:
Sources of vacancies
Careers in Construction
What are my further study options?
It is possible for science and engineering graduates who wish to specialise in building services to undertake a one-year masters (MSc) course. For a list of accredited postgraduate courses, visit:
CIBSEThe University of Nottingham, for example, offers MSc courses in Sustainable Building Technology and Energy Conservation and Management, and other universities offer more general building services courses.
Postgraduate courses at UoN
For those wishing to pursue further research into the science and technology behind building services, there are a range of PhD options and research opportunities, particularly those focusing on sustainability and energy efficiency within the built environment.
These can lead on to research focused careers either within academia or in industry to help shape the building services technologies of the future.
Find a PhD
CIBSE - professional body
Go to CIBSE for careers information, training and professional development, local networks (including CIBSE Young Engineers Network and the Women in Building Services Engineering network), news and information about developments in the sector.
BESA - trade organisation
Go to BESA for sector news, jobs and a company membership directory
BRISA - testing and consultancy
Go to BRISA for technical news and company membership list.