27 January 2022

Net Zero Skills

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2022 is the year of convergence for the construction industry.


We all agree that the ecological clock is ticking, and urgent action is needed to mitigate the impact of global warming but how are we going to do this without understanding and agreeing the skills needed to get to reduce our impact and use of high carbon materials and get to Net Zero.


Net zero means achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. RIBA and LETI have laid out a pathway and guidance to head towards achieving Net Zero.


Current and future construction professionals will need both the practical knowledge, software tools and design and the ability to work together in alignment to deliver low impact, low energy, climate ready buildings in a non-adversarial manner.


Current professionals are starting to work this way but our future professionals – those currently studying at university or recent graduates – have yet to do so. We have a challenge that could change this – Southside Hereford University Design Challenge - by bringing together interdisciplinary teams of individuals studying built environment subjects at UK universities and 2021 graduates.


Essential skills and Knowledge


We need to reduce carbon in construction by completing Whole Life Carbon assessment for each building. We need to reduce energy consumption and increase comfort by building to the Passivhaus standard. We need to use software that work with to each other – hence using Sketchup for this challenge!



Each participant and their team will have access to professionals at the forefront of future construction via a series of talks held online and recorded and uploaded for future reference.


They will speak about Whole Life Carbon, energy use, timber and timber products, contracts, fire and so much more – see article.


The Southside Hereford Challenge


As a team of 4-8, the challenge is to design, specify and cost a community building for 3 clients Growing Local, Belmont Wanders and NMITE to be around 800m2 with a budget of £1.6 m on a greenfield site in Hereford.


A single physical building that will provide a vibrant, inspiring and inclusive sports, food and skills community focal point for the people of South Wye.


A community centre that houses three stakeholders – that will enhance the local biodiversity, regenerate the lives of the people that own, use and visit, is climate ready and cause minimal impact to the site and planet.


Predominantly from timber – it is to produce more energy on site than it consumes and be designed to the Passivhaus Standard – and exceed the RIBA and LETI targets.


Further information


Free Software and Training


Each team will have access to and be provided with training in how to use:


The SketchUp Studio package, which includes SketchUp Pro, LayOut, Sefaira energy modelling, SketchUp Shop (web), Trimble Connect, and viewers for mobile and AR/VR platforms.


designPH and PHPP software enabling them to design to and meet the Passivhaus standard. The designPH plugin has been developed by the Passive House Institute to provide a 3D model interface for entering building geometry into PHPP.


AECB Carbon Calculator enabling them to calculate Whole Life Carbon, that is Embodied CO2 from Cradle to Grave. It was developed by Tim Martel, a Certified Passivhaus Designer, Chartered Architectural Technologist and AECB expert.


Register to enter by 11 February 2022


To participate in this challenge, you must be a current UK student or a 2021 UK graduate of a built environment subject. This includes students and graduates of architecture, architectural technology, structural or civil engineering, surveying, landscape architecture, and interior design.


However, this list is not exhaustive so please get in touch with TRADA's Tabitha Binding if you are unsure whether you are eligible to participate.


Register to participate – by 11 February


Net Zero ready? Come and join in – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Any questions or queries, please contact Tabitha Binding.




Thank you to our sponsors and supporters



Timber Development UK is organising the University Challenge in partnership with Edinburgh Napier UniversityNew Model Institute of Technology and Engineering (NMITE), and the Passivhaus Trust.


The event was sponsored by Transforming TimberAccoyaPEFCPH15Stora EnsoTimber Decking & Cladding AssociationWood for GoodRothoblaasAECBdesignPHTrimble, and UFI VocTech Trust.