Borders College

Students from Borders College (@borderscollege) paid a visit to the doctor’s recently, to learn more about how properties can be re-purposed and retrofitted with new technology, such as ground source heating systems, to significantly reduce a building’s carbon footprint.

The vacant medical centre in Yetholm, Scottish Borders, which is being converted into a residential property, is owned by local housing association, the Eildon Group. The conversion is an example of the type of project the organisation is working on to develop a low carbon property portfolio.

Commenting on the need to lower the carbon footprint within housing, Chief Executive Officer of the Eildon Group, Nile Istephan, said:

“Building new homes and adapting our existing homes to meet carbon reduction targets is a major challenge, but also a massive opportunity. By working together across the Scottish Borders with partner organisations, not only can we play our part in slowing the impact of climate change, we can also make great strides towards a zero carbon economy”

The Eildon Group, in partnership with Borders College and Scottish Borders Council, recently hosted a Sustainability Summit where a variety of public and third sector organisations were joined by private sector businesses, to discuss how to better work together to achieve net zero targets within the housing sector. The aim of the Summit was to use the affordable housing sector as a catalyst to reshape the supply chain and the workforce response, to low carbon across the board within housing.

The Sustainability Summit included keynote presentations by representatives from Northern Powerhomes and Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, both of whom covered examples of sustainable work in practice and future development opportunities.

Identifying and addressing the skills gap in sustainable new builds and retrofitting existing stock to become low carbon, was discussed at the Summit.  Borders College, who recently launched their Sustainability Strategy, confirmed their commitment to continue to develop and deliver the skills that address the needs of the construction industry, and ensure there is an adequate workforce pipeline to meet the demand now, and in the future.

Angela Cox, Principal of Borders College said:

"Borders College have been at the forefront in responding to the training needs of the construction sector. Our investment in sustainability technologies, hosted in our Hawick STEM and Passive House facility, and in the development of programmes designed to upskill the current and future workforce, mean that we are ready to build on the valuable partnerships we already have with Eildon Housing, other RSLs and Scottish Borders Council in response to the collective challenge we have in achieving net zero.”

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Sustainable Development, said:

“The future of the Scottish Borders truly depends on us all making strides towards reaching net zero and many job and economic opportunities will be connected to this. “The Council will shortly set out it’s Climate Change Route Map which will outline various milestones and actions emphasising that we will all need play our part in to tackle the climate emergency.”

An outcome of the Summit was acknowledgement of the positive work being carried out across the South of Scotland, and the clear focus by many organisations to place achieving net zero at the forefront of their future plans. Further events are planned in order to consolidate the work, with the three partners taking a ‘stronger together’ approach in dealing with the climate emergency.

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