Transition to a low carbon economy requires more efficient energy use and use of renewable energies with a lower environmental impact. Buildings are responsible for 40% of the energy used in the EU and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from construction, usage, renovation, and demolition.

Improving energy efficiency in buildings and upskilling the workforce employed in jobs relating to energy efficiency, renewable energy systems and nearly zero energy buildings is crucial in achieving the ambitious goal of a more sustainable society. Construye2020+, a Horizon 2020+ project that contributes to this goal by defining and developing updated training and an accreditation scheme for professionals in the building sector.

Sectoral training for green skills

Vocational training programmes in Spain have not traditionally included skills related to sustainability, energy efficiency and renewable energies; in many cases workers in the construction sector lack formal qualification and are under-skilled in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability. This limits the effectiveness of energy efficiency measures due to the disconnection between the design of buildings or their renovation and the actual building, maintenance, and renovation. Eight training courses were developed under the project framework and piloted in 2021:

  • two 8-hour cross-cutting courses on energy efficiency for middle managers. These aim to convey basic knowledge on energy efficiency, its implications on all jobs and on the building’s overall energy behaviour;
  • six courses developed as part of a previous project in the Build-up skills initiative, dedicated to renewables and efficient energy use, have been updated and adapted to a blended teaching methodology: aluminium and PVC carpentry; biomass systems; geothermal works; heating and hot water systems; profitability of energy efficiency in buildings; and thermal insulation of buildings.

All topics consider the entire value chain of the building and include some notions on new construction tools such as BIM (building information modelling) and lean construction. The courses have been developed on the accessible and responsive Moodle platform, adapting to computer environments and mobile devices through an app.

Upskilling is crucial to jobs of the future

The project has designed a system by which workers who can prove – through training or experience – they have certain knowledge in sustainable construction will be awarded an ‘eco-badge’. In the future, this badge might be integrated into the Professional construction card, an existing instrument in the sector used to verify workers' compliance with the occupational risk prevention training set out in the collective agreement for the construction sector.

Construye 2020+ is developing a new occupational standard for the energy auditor thanks to the National Institute for qualifications (INCUAL) responsible for defining, drawing up and keeping the National catalogue of occupational standards (CNCP) up to date; this catalogue provides the basis for designing vocational content in both IVET and CVET programmes.

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Please cite this news item as: ReferNet Spain; Cedefop (2021)Spain: supporting sustainability and green skills in the construction sector.  National news on VET