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AC20 - Skills development for innovative insulation technologies

Written by: CIC Start Online

"Skills development for innovative insulation technologies" by Heriot Watt University and Kishorn Developments Ltd

SUMMARY

With the current ambitious targets, 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, for a low carbon economy there is a need to ensure that there adequate skills levels to support the delivery of these targets in the built environment. Moreover, the soaring prices in energy bills means that homes should be upgraded and be well insulated to reduce fuel poverty particularly for households on low income. Indeed developing and delivering rapidly the specialist skills solutions is needed for emerging sectors and technologies1 (Meeting the Low Carbon Skills Challenge, 2010). The aim of this research is to identify the skills needs for the adoption of innovative insulation technologies. This research consultancy is a continuation to two previous CIC projects, namely: Testing a new method for cavity wall insulation in a Scottish historic house (CIC granted in March 2011 and completed in October 2011); and Monitoring building fabric and internal environmental behaviour of a recently insulated historic building (CIC application accepted in November 2011).

As a result of the first feasibility study project (which was completed in March), an innovative method and material was successfully used to insulate a historic listed building in Scotland. In addition to monitoring the performance of the wall, which is currently underway, through the successful application made by Dr Bennadji for the feasibility study awarded in November, it is paramount that as new methods are developed, we should understand the skills requirements and implications to costs.

During the feasibility stage for the testing the insulation method the project comprised of the following phases: Phase 1 (Building selection and site surveying); Phase 2 (testing method preparation); Phase 3 (Site preparation); Phase 4 (Application); and Phase 5 (Remedial work and monitoring). The scope of this project is to provide a skills mapping over the different phases of the project. It is argued that without an in-depth understanding of the skills needs, training and cost implication, then this represents a major obstacle for the implementation of innovative insulation technologies thereby reducing the carbon footprint of existing homes.

Furthermore, the application of innovative insulation technology should take a multi-disciplinary approach as it should not only be limited to the technical (hard) issues, but also to the softer issues and particularly building-up the skills capacity, in tandem with testing and applying the technology, in order to support wider adoption of the technology in the future.

Key words: refurbishment, thermal insulation, construction skills

AUTHORS

Dr Mohamed Abdel-Wahab, Heriot Watt University

For Kishorn Developments Ltd

The outputs of this study will be disseminated in due course.

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