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Anglia’s new Fabric First Institute will teach the trades of passivhaus

A new training scheme intended to teach energy efficient passive house skills to people from multiple trades will open its doors this month.

The Fabric First Institute opens on 31 October to teach people from multiple trades the skills of passive house, a rigorous building standard that focuses on energy efficiency to reduce ecological footprint.

The programme, which is being run by Whole House Energy, was developed after the announcement of a £300 million planned investment of ‘fabric first’ homes in Norwich – an approach to building design in line with passive house which maximises its performance reducing costs and carbon emissions.

While this project will provide plenty of work in the region, a shortage of qualified certified tradespeople to carry it out was identified.

Jackie Richards from Whole House Energy said: “There is a real and immediate need for multiple contractors to be upskilled to enable delivery of these homes. Currently the number of passive house designers in the UK outnumbers the passive house tradespeople who can work on their projects.

“Training can be expensive and this can exclude many would-be contractors from accessing skills and knowledge. Our training provides an affordable option and should, long term, result in more energy efficient building stock.”

The £200,000 training facility for the Fabric First Institute has been made possible thanks to a match-funded grant from the New Anglia Skills Deal Programme, provided by Norfolk County Council, Suffolk local authorities and the Skills Funding Agency. It aims to act as a catalyst for a step-change in construction practices both regionally and throughout the UK.

Richards added: “For contractors there are growing business opportunities within the passive house market and in order to capitalise on these opportunities contractors and their sub-contractor supply chain need to be suitably equipped and informed on what a passive house project entails. It’s not rocket science. It is just teaching best – rather than good – practice.”

Training includes a focus on core principles of fabric first and passive house building methods.

Courses will be held in a bespoke Fabric First Demonstration Unit under the canopy of the newly finished specialist Construction Centre at Easton Campus. The unit incorporates a number of construction fabric types to showcase how energy standards can be met in all buildings.

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