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Energy Academy braces for a year of regulatory change

The recently established Energy Academy based in Kent is devised to create a national blueprint for ensuring the industry is prepared for drastic changes to sustainability and safety

2018 is set to be a significant year of change for building and safety regulations, as well energy efficiency standards, requiring new approaches to training individuals to meet industry needs.

The Energy Academy, established late last year at a former warehouse in Kent belonging to Swale Heating, is seeking to meet these broader industry needs for upskilling in areas such as renewable energy systems, biogas and LPG heating, as well as bracing for changing health and safety legislation.

Although the academy is established by Swale Heating’s founder and will provide in-house training to the company’s staff, it is intended to be ran as a standalone brand that can adapt and meet industry-wide trends for more specialist expertise along with key skills such as wiring and fitting.

Jamie Farr, who is helping head up the Energy Academy, said the formation of the site reflected the growing pressure on the HVAC industry and other specialist contractors to be more pre-emptive in ensuring staff are working to best practice.

Mr Farr argued that the incoming regulation such as the Boiler Plus minimum efficiency standards coming into effect in April and the final recommendations of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety set for spring, long overdue changes could soon be realised.

However, he added that training within the HVAC industry had not always focused on meeting best practice, something that the academy was devised to better address.

Mr Farr said, “In the 17 years that I have been involved in the industry, training has a lot of the time been focused on minimal requirements.”

“To go and service a boiler on behalf of a landlord or a client, you needed just minimum ticks of approval.

He said that over the last three to five years, there had been much more of a drive across the industry to provide additional, or more specialised training that reflected evolving needs of clients that are focused on energy efficiency and carbon emissions considerations.

Mr Farr argued that training centres such as the Energy Academy will be required to be able to quickly adapt their operations to meet emerging trends and latest regulatory and standards changes that occur.

The design of the academy is intended to be adaptable to changing consumer needs as a means to provide both Swale’s in-house training, as well as to equip wider industry with the required skills for fitting traditional heating systems and more energy efficient and renewable technologies. The Boiler Plus efficiency standards, which come into place from April, is one area being supported by the academy.

Mr Farr said, “Everything we have out in the centre has been tailored to move with industry.”

In trying to practice what it preaches, the academy also makes use of a biomass system that could pave the way for special training focuses on supporting wider use of the equipment.

However, Biomass was viewed as being some way from becoming a common heating solution for the industry.

The full article can be read on page 28 of the February issue of H&V News. A digital edition is available here.

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