Construction and operation of the built environment accounts for almost half of all UK greenhouse gas emissions. With the Climate Change Act target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, the industry has a long way to go.
“Carbon management is extremely important. But a lot of people don’t realise that we have these targets,” says Simon Park, Energy and Environmental Advisor at Esh Group. “We saw a gap in the market.”
The team at Esh Group successfully applied for funding from CITB to tackle the challenge head on, resulting in the development of an online, multimedia training course on carbon management and construction called Carbon Coach.
“The course provides a really good introduction to carbon management in the built environment and the knowledge to respond to carbon reduction targets, aimed at apprentices,” Simon says.
Why apprentices? “It’s really important to influence the next generation of construction leaders. Apprentices get asked to do a lot of things, but they might not understand the context behind it,” he says.
“We’ve had great feedback. One trainee said: ‘Carbon Coach was excellent as it taught me about what was happening to the world due to climate change and how this fits into my role with working in the construction industry.’”
Using video, images, text and activities, Carbon Coach is made up of four modules on climate change, energy, low carbon design and energy management.
Each module takes around 30-45 minutes to complete and as they progress, learners develop their understanding of the link between climate change and the built environment. Passing a short quiz at the end of each module – a score of at least 80% is required – enables them to progress to the next.
“People can do it in their own time. There’s a lot to take in, but you can do the course in bite-sized chunks. Doing one module at a time means the content resonates better,” he says.
And it’s not only apprentices gaining the benefits of an online course they can fit around studies and work. The Esh Group team can easily log in at any time to update content and see user data on completed courses.
There were challenges along the way. The hardest part of developing the course was deciding what to include, says Simon.
“There’s a huge range of information out there,” he says. “From climate change to low carbon energy management – each of those could be a course on its own! We didn’t want to lose trainees.”
To keep the focus tight, Simon employed a professional voiceover artist. “It was good having him to guide people through the content, because some of it is pretty technical. He explained things in simple terms.”
In the first 18 months after launch, 163 apprentices had taken the course. Esh Group has now made it compulsory for all their technical and university apprentices to complete Carbon Coach.
But others beyond company are reaping the benefits too. Around 15 clients have provided the course to their apprentices, including Northumbrian Water and students of Newcastle University’s MSc in Safety, Health and Environment Management.
CITB has helped the company to spread the word, bringing a welcome and unexpected benefit.
“CITB has been very supportive and keen to help promote the course. It’s provided a fantastic opportunity to promote the company.”
Company: Esh Group
Sector: Construction services
Challenge: Enable future leaders to tackle the challenge of carbon management
Fund type: Flexible and Structured Fund
Location: North of England, Central and Southern Scotland
Impact: Improved apprentices’ knowledge of how the built environment affects climate change
“People can do it in their own time. Doing one module at a time means the content resonates better.”
Simon Park, Energy and Environmental Advisor, Esh Group.