As the homes we live in adapt to become more sustainable in the modern world, so do the methods in which new and existing tradespeople are trained up, with new skills required to take on new technology. In order to meet these ever-adapting construction skills, Cheshire College – South and West built a sustainable house on site in order to give students real ‘on the job’ experience.

Mark Parsons, assistant principal (curriculum) at Cheshire College – South and West explains all about this exciting new sustainable project on its Ellesmere Port Campus.

“Working with local partner businesses, our new sustainable house allows students on various courses to be able to explore, examine and learn from the house.

“The idea is that the students will get to work on the new house in a real life setting but without it being someone’s actual home, where it can be costly if a mistake is made. This hands-on approach will help develop new skills and tackle the UK’s current skills shortage.”

The house itself has been built from scratch by Manchester-based sustainable house specialists WUDL, and has various sustainable features which make it completely self-sufficient. The college has worked with businesses, all within a 50-mile radius, to furnish the house with the latest sustainable features, such as sustainable heating and ground source heat pumps.

The project will allow students to get involved in various types of energy resourcing, such as battery and rainwater harvesting, with on-going performance analytics of these functions being monitored every day.

“The students will be able to monitor everything from inside and outside temperatures – on a cloudy day, a rainy day, right down to testing when the photovoltaic energy cells get dirty – how efficiently are they running at that point in time?” Mr Parsons said: “We will even have cameras on the roof to show if something blows on there that may limit access to the sun and we can monitor performance by the hour.”

The UK government’s drive towards renewables has naturally played a large part in the college embarking on this project to upskill the community, as Mr Parsons explained: “It doesn’t matter if it’s an old house or a new house, we’ve got to teach the skills on how to make an old house more efficient as well as maintain and install new ones. We need to make sure our curriculum is visionary, innovative and future proof in-line with national priorities, so students leave with the skills for current and future employment.”

As well as the new house, Cheshire College recently invested in excess of £10m into a new construction and engineering department at its Ellesmere Port Campus, which also has sustainability at its core.

The College understands the importance of not wasting any materials, so other sustainable features throughout the college’s new construction department include 3D design and printing, and virtual spray painting. What’s more, the new motor vehicle department includes hybrid and electric cars so students can learn on the latest equipment and meet the future needs of employers.

Follow the story at Cheshire College – South and West