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Construction skills: Equipping building professionals with new skills to achieve European energy targets

Through its BUILD UP Skills initiative, the EU aims to equip the next generation of construction sector workers – from on-site workers to design professionals and senior management – with the skills and knowledge needed to ensure building and renovation projects meet stringent energy-efficiency requirements. This updated CORDIS Results Pack presents EU-funded projects that have designed and implemented impressive upskilling programmes to turn this ambition into a viable reality across Europe.

Climate Change and Environment

The building sector offers a large untapped potential for cost-effective energy savings. Nearly zero-energy building (NZEB) standards become a mandatory requirement in Europe as from 2020. The most challenging aspect of reducing energy use in the building sector lies in increasing the rate, quality and effectiveness of building renovation, since the current rate of renovation is only 1.2 % per year. One significant barrier that hampers the development of NZEBs and effective renovations is the lack of adequate construction skills. Improving the skills of middle- and senior-level building professionals as well as the various trade professionals in the area of sustainable energy-efficient construction is therefore of key importance.

Showcasing the BUILD UP Skills initiative

Against this background, the EU launched the BUILD UP Skills initiative in 2011. It aimed to increase the number of qualified trade professionals by developing national qualification platforms and roadmaps, and providing training in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy in buildings. The scope of the initiative has been expanded to other building professionals under Horizon 2020, with projects developing multi-country qualification and training schemes. Upskilling towards energy efficiency and sustainable energy should be done throughout the entire value chain of the buildings sector (including designers, architects, engineers, building managers, technicians, installers, workers and apprentices). All of these professions also need to be aware of new and upcoming challenges relating to nearly zero-energy buildings. These include new materials and products, the integration of renewable energy sources, new systems or processes, such as standardisation and common voluntary certification of buildings, and the use of building information modelling (BIM) tools. Upgrading or setting up large-scale qualification and training schemes in these areas goes hand-in-hand with initiatives that increase the demand for skilled building professionals, creating new job opportunities and boosting Europe's economic competitiveness.

An updated and expanded Results Pack

This Results Pack focuses on 11 EU-funded projects based across Europe that have driven forward the BUILD UP Skills initiative. The BUStoB project has been working in the Netherlands to provide construction workers with the training they need to meet the challenges posed by new energy-efficiency regulations. The Train-to-NZEB project has established world-class energy efficiency facilities and innovative teaching programmes in five Central and Eastern European countries. This work continues under the Fit-to-nZEB project that extended the network of training centres to Croatia, Greece and Italy, where the focus is on energy-efficient building renovation. Meanwhile, the ingREeS project, based in Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, addressed the skill and knowledge needs of middle- and senior-level construction professionals. Then we have the PROF-TRAC and MEnS projects that worked closely together to provide accredited train-the-trainers programmes, training materials and a centralised platform to allow for the development of the skills that professionals need to create and operate more energy-efficient buildings. Of the six new projects added to this updated edition of the Pack, several of them, such as the BIMplement, BIMcert, BIMEET and Net-UBIEP projects, have been training building professionals on how to use and implement building information modelling (BIM). Finally, the newly featured CEN-CE project has developed a qualification and training scheme for heating and air conditioning professionals to ensure they comply with new CEN standards on the energy performance of buildings published in 2017.