News List

Cable Told About City's Eco Houses

A new national database of green building skills could be established after a group of regional construction figures met cabinet minister Vince Cable.

They met with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to explain the development of two Eco Houses in Coventry and what has been learned from their creation.

The two properties in Canley have been built for Orbit Homes as a test bed and showcase for the design, build and operation of energy efficient, low carbon homes.

Both are being built to Passivhaus standard, which is the world-leading building benchmark in energy efficient construction, combining comfort and affordability with high ecological credentials.

But one of the houses will also meet ‘level six’ criteria – the most demanding level of the government’s Code for Sustainable Homes.

The group, which met under the auspices of FORCE – Forum for Constructing Excellence – warned Mr Cable that skills developed by individuals and firms working on the project could be lost unless the government takes action.

Nigel Robinson, the chairman of FORCE, said: “One of the driving forces behind this project was to hone the skills of contractors and sub-contractors working on the project so that they could become leading practitioners in this type of eco building.

“The main contractor, Beattie Passive, has worked extremely closely with Orbit and FORCE to ensure that the project helps to build the capability of local firms working on it.

“But there is a fear that this skill base is not being captured and when similar developments start across the country the developers will not have knowledge of the skilled people who have helped this to be such an important project.

“The UK has been behind many of its European counterparts in the construction of low carbon and carbon neutral homes, and the Coventry Eco House project has been a landmark in proving that we can develop the necessary skills. But it would be a crying shame if those skills are not then fully utilised on projects across the country.”

Mr Cable, who also heard about other construction industry issues from the group, has promised to look into establishing an eco-construction version of the Engineering Council’s register of technicians. The meeting was organised by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and was held at the headquarters of the Deeley Group, a leading development and construction firm.

Angela Tellyn, of the Chamber, said it was clear Mr Cable had been impressed by the project.

She said: “The minister wanted to hear directly from people who are working on the project, from Beattie Passive to tradespeople.

“It was obvious that he was impressed by what has been created here in Coventry from the support of Coventry City Council, the involvement and backing of Orbit Homes and the partnership approach to developing capabilities.

“Energy and fuel efficiency is something that is only going to continue to become more important both to individual households but also government policy.

“The group could demonstrate what can be done with the right backing and determination, but underlined how important it is that the intelligence gained through the project should be captured for the good of the industry as a whole.

“We will be working now with the relevant government departments to see if a register of eco building skills capability can be developed.”

Taken from http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/business/property/eco-properties-built-in-canley-6115615