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Train-to-NZEB: The Building Knowledge Hubs

Train-to-NZEB: The Building Knowledge Hubs

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Promoting hands-on energy efficiency training

The EU-funded Train-to-NZEB project has established world-class energy efficiency training facilities and innovative new teaching programmes at five central and east European countries. This will enable the next generation of construction professionals to develop the skills and expertise needed to meet growing demand for net zero energy buildings (NZEB).


© Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock
The training centres - or Building Knowledge Hubs - form part of a growing international network that combines theoretical lessons with practical hands-on exercises. The network also aims to increase interest in and awareness of NZEBs and stimulate market demand for optimal energy efficiency in new buildings and renovations. “New NZEB standards are being developed at the national level,” explains project coordinator Dr Dragomir Tzanev, from the Center for Energy Efficiency EnEffect, Bulgaria. “Meeting these new standards requires changes in how both designers and construction workers are trained. We also need to change the way we think about buildings, and this has to trickle down to end users. Consumers are the real change agents in this process, as if there is no demand from the market, there will be no demand for training.” As the three-year project nears completion, training facilities in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine are already putting Train-to-NZEB’s courses into practice. The aim at the outset was to train 90 trainers in total, a target that has already been achieved. “We are also getting close to our aim of training 2 400 construction workers, 480 designers and 720 non-specialists that include public authorities, NGOs, the media and facility managers,” says Tzanev. “I’m also very proud of what we have achieved in Turkey and Ukraine; the training centres there are carrying out really impressive work.” Hands-on experience Train-to-NZEB began in 2015 with a preliminary analysis of the training gaps that exist, and how these could best be addressed. Leading research and training institutions from Germany (Passive House Institute) and Ireland (Passive House Academy and Limerick Institute of Technology) were identified as ideal partners for transferring knowledge and experience. “Ireland has a lot of experience in combining standard classroom training with practical courses,” says Tzanev. “Hands-on experience is a really important part of the learning process.” Both Germany and Ireland also have well-established certification schemes for both designers and tradespeople. “Offering a variety of training courses will enable training facilities to really offer something different to the market and meet the diverse training demand,” adds Tzanev. Training courses tailored to builders, designers or end users focus on basic concepts such as energy saving, NZEB and the implementation of new building standards and offer practical experience with innovative materials and tools. Expanding network Tzanev hopes that the Train-to-NZEB network concept will now be further developed and expanded. The new EU-funded project, Fit-to-nZEB, extending the network to Greece, Italy and Croatia was recently launched, with a focus on energy efficient building renovation. “The goal here is to offer training programmes at all levels, from high school leavers to professionals,” he says. “This project carries on the Train-to-NZEB idea of sharing and developing programmes together, and it really shows that we are building a culture of exchange. This is the only way we can improve and ultimately meet the demands of customers.” As their profile rises, Tzanev hopes that network training facilities will begin to take on more consultancy work on actual construction projects. He also predicts that blended learning – a combination of online distance learning with hands-on experience at training centres and classroom learning – will be an important fixture in the future. “Training for professionals working in remote areas is only possible through good distance learning,” he says. “By engaging with as many stakeholders as possible and broadening our training offer, we can ensure that our model is sustainable.”


TRAIN-TO-NZEB, energy, efficiency, NZEB, buildings, construction, designers, builders, training

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 649810


Closed project

  • Start date

    1 June 2015

  • End date

    30 November 2018

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 1 426 333,75

  • EU contribution

    € 1 426 333,75

Coordinated by:


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