Dr Alice Owen

School of Earth and Environment (in collaboration with the School of Geography)

Equipping construction workers to deliver sustainable, zero carbon buildings

Responsive Mode Impact Fund

There is a need for large scale, transformational change of existing buildings so that we have homes which are comfortable to live in, affordable to run, flexible for the future with minimum use of energy. This is termed “retrofit”. Repair and maintenance of existing buildings is already a large part of the constitution industry in the UK, employing hundreds of thousands of people and worth around £30bn per year.

But there are real challenges in updating the skills and knowledge of construction industry workers to be able to take advantage of the retrofit opportunity and create our homes of the future. This project builds on research projects on cities and construction at the University of Leeds to find ways in which our city can tackle two key challenges: delivering skills training in a way that meets the construction industry’s needs, and ensuring a local market which makes it worth investing in developing those skills.

We are bringing together university researchers, Leeds City College, which has a national reputation for excellence in construction skills training, construction firms delivering projects in the city, and some of the major construction clients who specify what projects will be done. We want to develop a roadmap for upgrading the skills of the city’s construction industry, and develop procurement standards that require those skills. The overall aim is to use research findings to create a virtuous circle of sustainable construction in the city.