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Zero-Carbon Seminars Boost Construction Students’ Industry Awareness

Students across various trades and professions at Leeds College of Building took part in a unique set of seminars this week (26 and 27 January). 

Thanks to support from the recently formed Joseph Aspdin Skills Trust (JAST), a carousel of specialist talks was held at the College’s South Bank and North Street Campuses, focussing on achieving zero carbon in the construction sector.

The audience consisted of over 140 predominantly 16–18-year-olds and their tutors from Plumbing, Brickwork, Construction & Built Environment, Carpentry & Joinery, Plastering, and Wall & Floor Tiling courses. 

Students rotated around talks delivered by experts from diverse industries. Topics covered reducing carbon in the home, passive house construction technology and airtightness, retrofitting existing properties, insulation for retrofit solutions, and air & ground heat-pump technology.  

The expert speakers represent a range of specialisms, including architecture (R Dawson Architects, Richard Dawson), sustainable home building (Pure Haus, Kevin Pratt and John Blowers), regeneration and housing services (Engie/Together Housing Group, Glen Roberts and Rob Seaman), and insulation (Xtratherm, Neil Davies).

According to the World Green Building Council, the built environment sector is globally responsible for 36% of energy consumption, 38% of energy related carbon emissions, 50% of resource consumption, and expected to double in total footprint by 2060.

The seminars are one component of the JAST Business Plan, assisting the College to contribute towards the UK’s zero-carbon agenda and sustainability goals. The events aimed to raise student and staff awareness of local and national green initiatives in the construction and built environment sector by liaising with other bodies working in this field.  

Derek Whitehead, Principal & CEO of Leeds College of Building, said: 

“Leeds College of Building is very appreciative of this investment. JAST is raising the awareness and developments needed to help support the knowledge and skills that young, and older, people will require to achieve major zero-carbon targets set locally and nationally.  

“Furthermore, this work will help inform students of the needs of the construction industry. The sector continues to face unprecedented skills shortages across all occupational areas, which include expertise in zero carbon. We are working hard with employers to address these skills gaps and welcome this support from JAST.”

JAST was set up in 2021 by trustees Geoff Driver, Ken J Patterson, Jackie Coates, Sir John Battle and Baroness Judith Blake. Named after Joseph Aspdin, the 19th century Leeds entrepreneur and manufacturer of cement, its aim is to promote and educate about energy efficiency.

JAST trustee Geoff Driver, who is also an ex-governor of Leeds College of Building, Honorary Alderman, and former Leeds City Councillor for Hunslet and South Leeds, said:

“JAST approached the College to help support and offer opportunities to all young people. We hope to raise awareness of the zero-carbon agenda in communities across Leeds and further afield through the development of vital skills and knowledge, and via important training and work-related opportunities. As the only specialist FE construction college in the UK, Leeds College of Building is well-placed to help us achieve our aims.” 

In 2021, JAST showed their commitment to zero carbon and the College by funding a temporary two-year Construction Skills Project Coordinator post. The primary objective is to coordinate and deliver the JAST Business Plan, supporting students’ awareness of the green/zero-carbon agenda and developing their skills. 

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