Construction comprises the creation, planning, design and financing of projects from outset to completion. Generating countless jobs, it requires teamwork, skill and knowledge of materials and techniques; making it one of the outstanding examples of human ingenuity and brilliance.
Having managed to stay steady over the course of the last decade, the construction industry continues to flourish and play a major role in the economy. In doing so, construction continues to change with the times, and is increasingly being shaped by the drive for sustainable construction solutions which support the development of buildings which have greatly reduced energy demands. In line with this, South West College continues to be a leader in sustainable construction, with the development of the Passive Lab at its Technology & Skills Centre campus, which is the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland.
Ciaran McManus, campus manager at the Technology & Skills centre is delighted with the progressive steps in the construction industry that South West College is taking. ‘As the construction industry emerges from a period of recession, opportunities are beginning to appear, however it is apparent that these opportunities are increasingly being shaped by the drive for sustainable construction solutions which support the development of buildings which have greatly reduced energy demands. As the industry evolves South West College is well positioned to support this transition.'
Passive house is a rigorous standard for energy efficiency in buildings, ensuring the construction of low energy buildings that require little energy for heating. The passive house concept is based on five principles - Insulation, Thermal Bridging, Orientation and Windows, Airtightness, Mechanical Heat Recovery Ventilation - and the new lab is designed to provide a teaching space which supports the learning required to embed these principles in new builds.
This is nothing new for South West College. In recent years, having carried out extensive research in this field of study, The Crest Centre at South West College played a part in the design of an Eco House in West Cork which won home of the year on RTE. This building was part of a CREST Project carried out with Passive Building Structures, a well-established construction firm based in Rosslea, County Fermanagh, who are a market leader in the construction of Insulated Concrete. Crest carried out thermal modelling on the roof elements which were eventually used on the house, using thermal imaging analysis to identify and highlight areas of heat loss in buildings, to correct or improve insulation.
The Sustainable Construction Event 2020 is a step towards continuing this work. Ciaran McManus says, 'The Sustainable Construction 2020 event is an ideal opportunity for plumbing, electrical and construction contractors to meet with staff at the Technology and Skills centre and colleagues from CREST to find out more about the College’s support for industry. This event also provides the opportunity to officially open the new Passive Lab and launch the Retrofit project; two new elements in the College’s portfolio of support for the construction industry. I look forward to welcoming interested parties from the construction industry and indeed members of the general public along to the Technology and Skills Centre.’