Now the Green Collar workforce can get the training they deserve

11 May

When Granted Ltd knocked on the door of the principle of Bicton College, the Bicton EaRTH project was born. Since then, a training centre has developed that sets out to inspire and offer a meeting point for the ‘green collar’ workforce in the UK.

EaRTH, the Environmental and Renewable Technologies Hub, offers a positive take on the future of building design. Solar PV, biomass heating, air source heat pumps and rainwater recycling are just some of the popular topics that are discussed and taught.

“The future of buildings in the UK is no longer an ‘either/or’ scenario as far as renewables are concerned,” says Jonathan Davis. “Traditional UK trades are being challenged by the arrival of mature renewable technologies from Western Europe and around the globe.”

As there are two different buildings on site, two different approaches to  thermal efficiency are used. The upper stable had a wall void and Simon Granville decided to maintain this, opting for thermal insulation plus adding significantly to the glazing and by kicking out the entrance pods to face true south. Coupled with the  thermal mass of the low-carbon concrete floor pad, the building warms its self during the day and holds the heat at night.

The lower barn was given a tea cosy approach as it has solid walls. The insulation was fitted externally under the locally sourced red cedar cladding. Solar gain was increased by opening up the Southern elevation. Little or no heat is required, even over the winter.

Where heat is needed, the integrated thermal / ASHP / biomass system is designed to deliver heated water to the underfloor heating system. And if the thermal is not enough then the 10 kw air source heat pump kicks in and the wood chip boiler also automatically fires up during cold spells.

The centre is proud of its technology: glass vision panels are installed in the floor of the reception that display the under floor heating system and the subterranean pipe work that allows the pad to be cooled as well as heated. Everywhere, there is an ‘up close’ feel to the technology, from the eye-line terrace that seems to follow the trail of roof-mounted PV panels to the exposure of the biomass boiler. Every student is constantly reminded about how the buildings work and how their comfort levels are being maintained. And when technology works so well, it would be impossible to find it unattractive. This project surely proves how exciting a career in construction might just become.



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