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Green Construction Advisory Panel recognised in the Exeter Sustainability Awards

The Green Construction Advisory Panel (GCAP) has been awarded the ‘School/ Educational Organisation’ winner in the Exeter Sustainability Awards 2022.

GCAP is a member-led committee of over thirty local building service, housing, and construction businesses, supported by local authorities, charities and training providers across the South West. The group exists to improve and develop sustainable training and education opportunities for the housing and construction industry.

Exeter City council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and committed to making Exeter a carbon-neutral city by 2030, twenty years earlier than the government’s national commitment of 2050.

The construction sector is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the city of Exeter. To ensure Exeter reaches the target of carbon neutral by 2030, homes across the city need to be made more energy efficient. As part of this, the council’s retrofit programme will see whole houses refurbished with heat pumps, wall and roof insulation, and solar panel photovoltaic roof panels to deliver the highest energy standards.

Whist demand for retrofit is high across Exeter and the wider Devon region, there is a shortage of skilled labour to deliver the programme.

Supported by local funding streams, including the Social Development Fund (SDF) and in collaboration with Heart of the South West LEP, GCAP has been formed to help develop and create training programmes and qualifications to train the future workforce in green construction skills such as retrofit.

These qualifications will be available to those already working in the construction sector wishing to upskill and will also be introduced in schools and colleges across Devon to educate students about new and emerging sustainable technologies and their environmental impact.

GCAP’s collaborative approach in bringing together leaders from the construction sector with local authorities, schools and training providers is creating a clear pipeline for those undergoing green construction training to progress into prime jobs and careers.

GCAP has been recognised in the Exeter Sustainability Awards for already having made significant impact. As a result of the group’s activities, green construction is now on the curriculum in all Exeter schools and Exeter College has launched England’s first Green Construction Bootcamp. This short course gives learners hands-on training on domestic retrofit, with a fabric first curriculum covering practical training on external wall insulation, heat pumps and loft insulation, as well as upskilling on low carbon technologies such as PV’s, solar hot water heating, battery storage and more. 

A state-of-the-art Retrofit Skills Centre has also been commissioned to train and upskill construction workers in retrofit.

Mike Blakeley, Director of Apprenticeship and Future Skills at Exeter College explains;

“The College has ambitious plans to develop the first Retrofit Skills Centre in Devon, working in collaboration with Taylor Lewis and APG architecture. The centre will be an essential addition to the existing Construction Centre. This will provide opportunities to upskill the current workforce and encourage green careers, where individuals are educated about new and emerging technologies and techniques, reducing the impact on the environment.

Adam, Director of APG Architecture mentions;

80% of the homes we will be living in by 2050 are already built. There are over 40,000 homes in Exeter that need Retrofitting! There is a skills shortage that needs to be rapidly addressed to ensure that the skilled labour is available to deliver the sustainable change that the built environment so desperately needs. The Retrofit Skills Centre is an extension to Exeter College on Falcon Road. Building upon Exeter College’s’ successful construction training programme’s this purpose-built training facility will provide education for both apprentices and professionals alike. The architecture provides an elegant and low carbon shell to enclose the ‘site inspired’ teaching spaces within (whilst also generating energy and harvesting rainwater for use within the building). Collaborating with the GCAP members we are ensuring that the teaching environment provides all of the necessary assets for the retrofit programme to provide the much-needed skills that are currently so short in the construction industry, enabling decarbonisation targets to be achieved through retrofit. We are expecting the Retrofit Skills Centre being operational at the start of term in September 2023.

GCAP group photo

GCAP’s activities are not just having a positive impact across the South West, but also on a national scale by demonstrating how to deliver net zero in construction. It is for this ambitious and forward-thinking activity that the group has been celebrated in the Exeter Sustainability Awards.

The Exeter Sustainability Award scheme launched in 2022 to champion the organisations and community groups that are going the extra mile to help make Exeter carbon neutral by 2030.

If you would like to learn more about the Green Construction Advisory Panel, you can view the strategy here, and contact [email protected].