The Council of Australian Governments is getting serious about addressing the shortage of expertise in delivering energy-efficient buildings, with two new training initiatives for trades and designers recently receiving funding.
Construction membrane manufacturer Pro Clima has received funding to develop and deliver building science education from the National Energy Efficient Buildings program managed by the COAG Energy Council.
Pro Clima technical manager and Air Infiltration and Ventilation Association (AIVA) president Sean Maxwell said while air infiltration issues were often blamed on builders not achieving the required standard of workmanship, designers also needed specific information on how to design and specify buildings for energy efficiency and thermal comfort.
AIRAH is a partner in the initiative, and the AIVA and members of the Special Technical Group on Building Physics are contributing to the development and peer review of the training materials.
“It will be a deep dive into building science.”
Mr Maxwell said the goal was to have four sessions in four cities in August. They are currently looking for host buildings in which some of the techniques can be demonstrated.
Air blower door testing would be carried out, for instance, along with an infrared camera so participants can see the impact of leakage on thermal comfort levels.
“They will be able to walk around and feel the leaks,” Mr Maxwell said.
It is about presenting people with “sensible solutions” for energy efficiency and helping building science “sink in”.
GBI to tackle resi efficiency skills
Another initiative is being developed by the Green Building Institute (GBI) to address priority knowledge and skill areas for suppliers and trades within the residential construction industry around energy efficiency, sustainability knowledge and National Construction Code compliance.
The program, which has received funding on behalf of the COAG Energy Council through the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the South Australian Department of State Development, will be delivered via e-learning and social media.
“Builders and trades people currently have insufficient knowledge of how to implement energy efficiency in a cost effective manner,” GBI director Daniel Wurm said.
Mr Wurm said they may also be unaware of building science principles and products for energy efficiency, and how easily they can be incorporated into design elements.
“Certificate IV in Building and Construction is currently required for builders’ licensing in most Australian states, but does not have any core units on energy efficiency. This means most builders get licensed with no training in energy efficiency.”
The training will be made available as fully-funded places for individual units of competency, embedded into building trades apprenticeships, and as part of a green building diploma.
“Being tradies and builders ourselves, we understand how tradies learn,” Mr Wurm said.
“We will focus on practical methods to improve energy efficiency, instead of academic theory.
“We intend to use real-life case studies to demonstrate the practical application of building science principles and sustainability.”