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Building for the future - sustainable construction for professionals
Sustainable Construction for Professionals

There is a shortage of sustainable construction skills in the workplace. Further education (FE) colleges, architectural and engineering schools, building companies, trade unions, professional bodies and institutions can all help to promote sustainability in building. The Building for the Future project targets all these bodies – FE colleges in particular – to raise awareness of the need for sustainability in construction. FE colleges are both providers of training in construction skills and construction clients themselves, spending £1.7 billion (about €2.4 billion) on new builds in the next five years.

Building for the Future is part of the GROW programme’s Green Growth pillar, seeking to lower the carbon footprint of the built environment by promoting sustainable construction (SusCon) skills through use of innovative technology, particularly relating to water and energy saving in college buildings.

The Association of South East Colleges (AOSEC) (UK) is the lead partner, working with one partner from the UK and another from Spain. The project undertook a review of construction curricula in vocational colleges and has identified opportunities to include social and environmental considerations. It commissioned expert knowledge for dissemination between partners, staged seminars and joint events to raise awareness, and brought together construction clients and their design teams to challenge them on the approach to sustainable construction.

Among the project’s varied outcomes are case studies and examples of good practice, all shared with partners and target bodies; five reports and one sustainable construction index. Its most significant ‘product’ is its direct engagement with FE colleges and their design teams. It sets a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) standard of ‘very good’ as the minimum for new college builds and gives construction tutors and students experience of the benefits of teaching SusCon.

“Interregional dialogue about SusCon has had a huge impact on the attitude of the construction industry and how its meets the increased expectations of its clients,” said Owen Barfield, project manager at AOSEC.

Project partners believe they are leaving a highly positive legacy for the future. Sustainably built colleges will have a lifespan of at least 40 years and a construction student may enjoy a working life of similar length. The level of interregional dialogue and knowledge sharing developed by Building for the Future and the connection and empathy created with the estate management of FE colleges seem sure to have a lasting impact.

Contact: Owen Barfield, AOSEC, University of Reading, London Road, Reading, RGI 5AQ, UK Tel: +44 (0)118 378 6285 Email: