The green building sector has grown so quickly out of obvious environmental – and associated monetary – necessity that a majority of the research on different technologies is still, in large part, being discovered after the implementation stages.
Green building monitoring is a large part of the sector and allows for these new procedures to be tested in their running stage.
However, we have now become advanced enough in our understanding and development of green building procedures that green building test and education facilities are increasingly becoming more relevant.
The US recently wowed the world with its mega-scale green technology ‘test city’ located in New Mexico, with plans to run major green technologies on a life-sized scale in order to test their in-context abilities.
While the US venture is to be commended for its impressive nature, a little-known college for eco-building has long since been opened in South Yorkshire in the UK.
The £4.5m Think Low Carbon (TLC) centre is a part of the unassuming Barnsley College and is already training a new generation of green builders.
Classes accept 100 students a month and teach short courses based on energy-efficient building methods and materials, as well as demonstrating renewable energy sources. The ideas presented range from the most complex renewable energy generation concepts to the implementation and use of sheep’s wool and straw bales as insulation and building tools.
However, the school is less about reinventing the wheel, and more about adaptation, with students encouraged to think innovatively and cleverly rather than relying on large-scale energy solutions.
In the same vein as the University of Queensland’s Advanced Engineering Building’s ‘live’ running model, where students learn about green technologies both inside the classrooms and from technologies implemented throughout the building, TLC truly practices what it preaches.
The building’s heating needs are taken care of via a biomass boiler, while rooftop solar panels generate energy for the building and under-floor heating is provided through the use of an air-source heat pump.
The UK is investing billions in green building and technology strategies and is not taking the risk of a heavy investment followed by a skills shortage due to a lack of green building training.
An industry catch-up is now beginning to take place, with a true exploration of green building techniques and opportunities finally underway.