The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has won the Best Use of Technology Award at the prestigious Trade Association Forum (TAF) Best Practice Awards 2023. It was also shortlisted in two other categories: Campaign of the Year and Association Executive of the Year. 

The awards, which showcase the innovation and best practice of trade bodies from every sector of the UK economy, celebrated their 20th anniversary at a glittering ceremony at The Brewery in London. 


BESA’s Ventilation Hygiene Elite register (VHE) was picked out by the judges as the most impressive use of technology. Its success in creating and then rapidly expanding a database for notifying ventilation system cleaning in compliance with the industry standard TR19® has been widely praised. It plays a key role in reducing fire risks posed by poorly maintained building ventilation systems. 


In April last year, VHE implemented a new SMS messaging service that accelerated the notification of compliant works by a startling 78% and this month the scheme hit the milestone of 20,000 notified cleans in a year. 


“Digital technology has helped us make rapid progress in providing a much-needed way for responsible firms to demonstrate to clients, insurers and the general public that they are working hard to keep people safe in buildings,” said BESA’s head of certification Duncan Sibbald. 


“We have gone from a largely unregulated sector to one that can now demonstrate professionalism and compliance in a clear and easy to access way, but we are far from finished,” he added. “With the Building Safety Act raising the stakes for fire safety right across the built environment, digital systems that support compliance will become ever more important.” 


BESA’s technical director Graeme Fox made the tight shortlist for Association Executive of the Year in recognition of his unstinting efforts to help the global building services industry raise standards of technical excellence and safety across a wide range of disciplines from refrigeration and air conditioning to indoor air quality and heating. 


He also played a key role in the launch of World Ventilation Day (#WorldVentil8Day), which was shortlisted for Campaign of the Year. BESA organised the campaign and worked with 21 organisations, including professional bodies, universities, and environmental groups from across UK, Europe, North America, and Australia to raise public awareness of the vital role played by ventilation in tackling poor air quality and supporting people’s health, well-being, and productivity.  

Since its formation in 1997, the Trade Association Forum has been encouraging the development and sharing of best practice among UK trade associations and promoting the role of effective trade associations to government, industry and the wider public.