A ground-breaking, grant funded, training initiative is being introduced to Norfolk and Suffolk to support the construction industry build in an energy efficient way.

The Fabric First Institute will teach people from a full range of trades within the construction industry to deliver homes to the Passivhaus standard, a rigorous building standard that focuses on energy efficiency.

It is hoped this will act as a catalyst for change throughout the sector.

Jackie Richards from Whole House Energy, the Project Managers said: “There is a real and immediate need for multiple contractors to be upskilled.

“Currently the number of Passivhaus designers in the UK outnumbers qualified tradespeople five to one.

“There are already a comparatively high number of Certified Passivhaus Tradespeople in the Eastern Region but this training can be expensive and exclude many would-be contractors from accessing the skills and knowledge.”

The £200k funded year-long training programme was developed in support of the Norwich City Council’s £300 million Fabric First Framework which plans to see the development of hundreds of homes to the Passivhaus standard over the next four years.

Training will focus on core principles of Fabric First and Passivhaus building methods, covering aspects from building fabric to ventilation.

It will be open to any small or medium sized builder, plumber or electrician in the region, wishing to give themselves an advantage.

Ms Richards said: “For contractors there are growing business opportunities within the Passivhaus market and in order to capitalise on these opportunities contractors and their sub-contractor supply chain need to be suitably equipped and informed on what a Passivhaus project entails.

“The Institute provides an affordable option for training and should, long term, result in local businesses being able to both deliver high quality energy efficient buildings while giving themselves a distinct competitive advantage.”

The Fabric First Institute has been made possible thanks to a grant from the New Anglia Skills Deal Programme, provided by Norfolk County Council, Suffolk local authorities and the Skills Funding Agency.

This has been match-funded by 25 project partners including nine regional contractors.

Courses will be held at Easton and Otley College, Easton Campus where the bespoke Fabric First Demonstration Unit sits under the canopy of the newly finished specialist Construction Centre. The unit cleverly incorporates a number of construction fabric types to showcase how energy standards can be met in all buildings.

The facility opens its doors on 2 November for training to begin.

For more details of the courses, availability and booking visit www.wholehouseenergy.com/fabricfirstinstitute or call Whole House Energy on 01603597716