Green light means go as environmental construction courses commence

23 February 2017

Training has just commenced at a new environmental training centre near Norwich.


In November 2016, a facility called the Fabric First Institute was opened at Easton and Otley College in Norfolk, made possible due to a grant from the New Anglia Skills Deal Programme, provided by Norfolk County Council, Suffolk local authorities and the Skills Funding Agency.


The project has two key objectives. To train and ‘upskill’ local construction tradespeople and to develop a City and Guilds qualification in low energy construction for students in this very specific field.


The lead delivery partner is a company called Whole House Energy. Jackie Richards is one of the directors of this company. She said, “We were delighted to welcome our first group of construction students to the 30 hour course. They are the first batch of students to receive this type of training course in the country. The 15 learners have just finished a five day programme to give them new Passivhaus skills. The long-term aim is to create an accredited module that will enable more people coming into the industry to access the skills they need to deliver low energy houses and buildings.


“The other central aim of the grant funded project is to offer an eight hour course for construction tradespeople from our region and to teach them specific low energy skills. Whilst at the college, there is an opportunity for these tradespeople to be introduced to students in their industry, with the aim of creating new job opportunities and apprenticeships.”


One of the students to take the five day course is 19 year old Harrison Hall from Long Stratton. He said, “The course has been good. I didn’t know much about it (the topic of energy efficiency housing) before. The amount of work that goes into it is surprising. There are more details than I realised so the course has been helpful.”


One of the contractors who took the eight hour course is Tristan Smith from H Smith and Sons. He said, “The course was really insightful. It’s been beneficial and we will be looking how to integrate the things that I learnt into the market we are working in. Chatting to students was productive. There is the potential to create a link up with them in the future.”


Another business to take part in the one day course was Richard Agger from KJ Plastering. He said, “As a business we have been reducing heat loss and producing more energy efficient houses and today was looking about the advantages of Passivhaus.”                                                        


Martin Morrell is the Work Based Learning area leader for construction at Easton and Otley College. He said, “We have had the first eight hour Fabric First institute energy course. I sat it myself and found it enjoyable. In terms of the five day course, 15 students took part and they are enjoying it.

It was great that they were able to come along to meet and greet employers and talk about future industry opportunities.                                                                                                                                                  


“In my opinion, these types of houses are the future. We need to look at more energy efficient buildings. The cost of fuel is going up so this is all very important. The resources in these houses will be more sustainable. Courses are taking place throughout the year and I would recommend them to others.”


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