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The Tygh-Na-Cladach project


around 10-15 per cent more to construct than a conventional home. Bell, however, believes it is possible to further cut costs, and in general, the gap in price between energy efficient and conventional building methods is shrinking. While Bell says major companies are only


“dipping their toe in the water” of the market at the moment, he believes public interest will soon prompt them to examine the business case for passive house standards. A demonstrable track record of successful projects is also vital. Te SPHC played a leading role in the delivery of the Tygh-Na-Cladach project, a row of ten, affordable semi-detached homes on the banks of the Clyde. Completed in November 2009, one of the homes is built to the passive house


standard. In August, the Dormont Estate near Lockerbie unveiled a unit of eight passive house standard rental homes – Bell says the development “best reflects what is possible”. But is Scotland currently capable of producing large-scale developments to such rigorous standards? “At this point in time, no,” says Bell. Te major hurdle is skills. A certified passive house designer course lasts nine or ten days, with a final exam at the end. Designers are then monitored through their first three projects, before sitting another exam. Despite the compact nature of the courses available, persuading companies to volunteer remains a challenge. “We get a lot of resistance to that course because people see it as two weeks


away from their practice,” says Bell. According to Phil Ford, Skills Strategy Manager at ConstructionSkills Scotland, in an industry where 97 per cent of firms employ no more than ten staff, companies are “very much focused on survival at the minute. Tey’re chasing any jobs that are available and they’re finding it very difficult to secure work.” While passive house standards remain several


years away from joining the mainstream, Ford believes that, despite the economic pressures, the construction industry understands it must adapt in order to reduce its carbon footprint. Furthermore, he believes developing the industry’s skills base is more a case of evolution than revolution. “We do have a very


SCARF, established in 1985, provides householders, business and organisations with independent and impartial advice on the sustainable use of energy. The advice service includes home energy surveys, details of grants and schemes that are available to install insulation and renewables.


SCARF delivers Energy Performance Certificates, City & Guilds Energy Awareness and Domestic Renewable training as well as bespoke training and staff awareness programmes.


For more information contact Jean Morrison on 01224 213005 or email jmorrison@scarf.org.uk or visit www.scarf.org.uk Jean Morrison, Chief Executive Officer, SCARF, 1Cotton Street, Aberdeen, AB11 5EE


19 September 2011 www.holyrood.com 65


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