New green building hub puts Britain centre stage of transition to low-carbon future

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A new national construction centre will provide thousands of young people with the building skills they need to refurbish the nation’s homes…

A new national construction centre will provide thousands of young people with the building skills they need to refurbish the nation’s homes so they become greener and cheaper to run, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell announced today.

Mr Stunell said the new Centre of Refurbishment Excellence, which he opened today in Stoke-on-Trent, would provide the nation’s first green building skills hub, helping to create thousands of new jobs and preparing Britain for a low carbon future.

Located in the heart of the country on the site of a Victorian pottery works, the £11 million centre will provide a national focal point for the construction industry and related trades, serving as a training facility and showroom for the latest green building solutions.

The unique education centre will host courses and tutorials for 300 students and 2,000 tradesmen, teaching the latest innovative techniques for the green refurbishment of homes, and preparing the country for the Green Deal that is due to launch in autumn 2012.

Under the Green Deal homeowners and tenants will be able sign up specialist providers to upgrade properties so they become more energy efficient. No money will be paid upfront - instead people will be able to pay for the improvements over time, with the costs to upgrade the property paid back from the savings on energy bills.

The Green Deal represents a major opportunity for business - by 2015 up to 100,000 workers could be employed in the effort to upgrade Britain’s homes, and the new centre in Stoke will play a major role in the training of students and tradesmen in the methods and materials they need to become Green Deal providers.

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said:

Over three-quarters of the buildings that will be standing in 2050 have already been built - so it is vital that we find ways to reduce carbon emissions from all types of existing buildings, and for every type of budget, or the country risks losing its battle against climate change.

That’s why this Government has wasted no time taking practical steps to pave the way for tenants and homeowners to retrofit their homes through Green Deal, and for businesses to provide the upgrades.

But with the clock ticking towards the launch of the Green Deal, it is now essential that businesses have all the necessary skills to carry out green upgrades on existing homes.

So I’m delighted to be opening the new national centre for green building expertise - the new skills hub will become an international centre of excellence for providing the right skills to retrofit homes, helping to create jobs and putting Britain centre stage of the multi-billion pound transition to a low-carbon future.

The new centre will become a catalyst for the regeneration of the Longton area of the city, and help provide much-needed training and employment to local young people and tradesmen.

Their new skills will help them refurbish the UK housing stock to the highest modern standards - in areas such as photovoltaic solar panels, ground source heat pumps, and new insulation techniques - and help Britain compete in the global low carbon market that is projected to be worth £4 trillion a year by 2015.

Government funding helped develop the new centre, which will now run as a partnership between Building Research Establishment, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent College. A second phase will see the redevelopment of the Grade II listed Enson Pottery Works into an additional exhibition and training facility.

Pioneer projects that are similar to the Green Deal have already started - in the largest scheme of its kind in Manchester, the Social Homes Ecofit scheme will provide improvements such as solid wall insulation and better heating systems for up to 9,000 social homes to make them more energy efficient, at no upfront cost.

The upgrades could save tenants up to £500 per year on energy bills, and at the same time create more than 1,800 jobs and bring a £100 million boost to businesses in Manchester carrying out the home improvements. Mr Stunell called for other social landlords to follow their lead, to improve the lives of their tenants and at the same time bring a much needed economic boost to local economies.