How businesses can upskill to meet green demand

2nd December, 2013

The UK construction industry needs to ensure it is developing the right skills now if it is to reap the potential future rewards of the low-carbon agenda.

The government’s target to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint and make the nation a world leader in low-carbon emissions has real implications for construction.

Half of the carbon output in this country is created in buildings, so as a sector we have a duty to tackle the issue by considering how we approach new construction projects and what we can do to make old buildings more energy-efficient through practices such as retrofitting.

Increased focus on greener industry

But more topically, the need for a greener industry has been under increased focus through the government’s industrial strategy for construction, launched by business minister Michael Fallon in the summer.

These are the reasons why small and medium-sized firms in the industry should look to help meet the government’s challenge, while simultaneously reaping the associated business benefits.

As the industry training board and sector skills council, it is the duty of CITB to provide information on how businesses can make the most of the green agenda, and to deliver a number of products and services which enable companies of all sizes to grow the required skills.

CITB is helping to identify low-carbon opportunities for everyone in the supply chain through campaigns such as Cut the Carbon. We also provide employer training grants to help take the financial strain away from companies looking to upskill their workforce.

Specialist grants such as the Craft Non Apprenticeship Grant and the Specialist Upskilling Programme help existing construction workers to improve their skills base.

Specialist upskilling

CITB also offers a wide range of sustainability training and courses, from general topics such as waste management and Green Deal awareness, to more specialist courses including solar panel installation and low-carbon retrofitting.

The organisation supports the Green Construction Board, a partnership between government and the construction industry, to take a unified approach to the problems facing the industry, providing strategic leadership on key issues and identifying steps to promote the UK’s excellence in green construction.

One example of this was a recent GCB forum held with construction SMEs at Cheshire Oaks in the North-west.

The event took place at a flagship sustainable Marks & Spencer store and highlighted the need for all businesses to embrace the low-carbon agenda, while providing a platform to voice their questions and recommendations on how the industry can move forward.

Top tips for businesses

More generally, the GCB offers practical tips for contractors on how to act now to ‘green’ their businesses in the areas of carbon, water, waste, biodiversity and materials.

Its working groups have developed top tips for businesses, including setting internal targets for reducing carbon emissions and minimising water usage; considering how to save energy at every stage of the construction process; and consulting suppliers on new products that are the most efficient.

The industry has made such fantastic strides towards embracing new, emerging practices and training, but the low-carbon economy is only going to get bigger.

Ignoring the agenda is no longer an option, so now is the time to act in order to take advantage of the commercial opportunities available, both now and in the future.

To find out more about readying your business for low carbon construction, visit www.cutcarbon.info.

Tony Howard is head of new business development at CITB

Source: Construction News

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