AECB CarbonLite Retrofit Course – Your Questions Answered

Read the FAQ’s and Book Your Place on the Next AECB CarbonLite Retrofit Course

These are questions we have been asked about the new course which may help with your decision to book on the next course in October 2016

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Certification/accreditation of course participation and projects

Q. Self-certification; I presume this element will only be for retro-fit works?

A. Yes, the CarbonLite Retrofit course enables you to self-certificate retrofits only. The existing Carbonlite Silver certification is probably the closest equivalent for new build and there is of course overlap in terms of key principles such as ventilation, insulation, air quality etc.  However, existing standards for new build do not cover the ins and outs of existing buildings and the range of issues that they sometimes can present before, during and after retrofit. Hence, this course focuses on achieving suitable energy targets for retrofit while at the same time considering the health of the building and the occupants.

Q. What is the actual accreditation that we would receive? I see on the website that we would ‘Gain the right to self-certify projects under the CarbonLite Retrofit Self-Certification system (launching Summer 2016).’ Does this standard relate to a statutory requirement of framework, e.g. building control or planning?

A. You will receive a certificate saying you have passed the CarbonLite Retrofit course.  There is no current accreditation but it is hoped this will apply to projects in the future.  This is a new course, which we intend will become known for its rigour.  As far as we know there are no similar courses available at present.

CarbonLite Passivhaus Designer Course

Q. I have just qualified under the Carbonlite Passivhaus designer course so; can I expect this course to extend my PH designer knowledge to greater specific retrofit expertise? Does it actually offer others without the PH expertise already an alternative/upgrade approach to gain some of the knowledge that the PH course has already provided

A. There is reference in this course to PH methodology (although not all participants will have that level of knowledge). However, existing standards for new build, including PH, don’t cover the ins and outs of existing buildings and the range of issues that they can present before, during and after retrofit. Hence, this course focuses on achieving suitable energy targets for retrofit, with particular focus on the additional risks and issues relevant when dealing with existing buildings.

Course Duration/Timescales etc.

Q. Are you able to give an estimate of the expected duration of the course please, e.g. how many hours per week?

A. This is a hard one.  Some sections will be more challenging than others and this will partly be dependent on where your existing knowledge is strongest and also your reading speed.  As a rough guide, we estimate between 5 and 10 hours per week and anticipate nearer 5.  We have built in an expectation that people will have other commitments like holidays, when they will take breaks.  The idea is that it should be possible to undertake the course alongside other commitments.

Q. I already have a commitment on the start of the course date.  Can I see the content of the webinar later?

A. The start date is the date that Module 1 becomes available. As it is an introductory module, there is no webinar associated with it.

Q. I am considering enrolling for the retrofit course but have a number of commitments/holidays planned. I notice that I can fit the online modules around these commitments but are there any fixed dates (for group discussion etc.) that I will be at risk of missing. If so, when will these be? 

A. We have planned on-line seminars for the core modules.  If you see the row, ‘On-Line Seminar’, you will see the planned dates for these.  There is a possibility that there might be other options, so do let us know if you have any problematic dates.

Q. How flexible is the course? I am working full time, so I’m wondering if the Friday online seminars are a fixed live event, or something I can catch up on, on my commute or over the weekend?

A. The online seminars are the only element of the course that are fixed. We are hoping it will be possible to watch them later, but of course you will not be able to contribute.

Q. How many hours per week would I typically need to spend on this course?

A. We estimate that it will take an average of 5 hours per week to read the course materials in order to be ready for each seminar.

Q. Do you think I can realistically do this course while working full time?

A. The course is spread over a 6-month period so that a wide range of busy people can manage it.

Q. What elements of the course do I need to do at a fixed time? or are they all flexible?

A. To get the most from the course, the idea is that you read each Module in the time frame suggested so that you can get most benefit from the end of Module seminar. However, at an estimated 5 hours per week, this should be do-able.


Q. I’m assuming there are a number of ‘lessons’ per week, is that correct? 

A. Yes, some modules are longer than others but the number of lessons per week should be roughly similar throughout. Modules are over a minimum of 10 days and considerably more for the longer more technically demanding and longer ones.  We have allowed more time in the summer holiday period to allow for people taking several weeks of holiday and tried to include scope for some flexibility through the rest of the course.

Course Costs

Q. Do you have an idea of course cost next year? I assume that the cost this year is very reduced as it is a first-time runner?

A. The fees for the next course are expected to be slightly higher, but have not been fixed yet.  I anticipate that there will be some benefit in taking the course when it has been run once in this format.

Course Content

Q. I’m currently considering whether to book a place on the new retrofit on-line course and just wanted to check whether I’m a suitable candidate and if it covers topics of specific relevance to our project. We’re currently planning an eco refurb of a 1960s bungalow and, mainly due to the cost implications, I’m going to be project manager and probably part-time labourer too! The project will involve a small extension, moving numerous internal walls (some load-bearing), moving the kitchen / bathrooms and installing new drainage, new high-performance doors and windows, cavity wall insulation and probably external wall insulation too, greatly improving airtightness, installing MVHR, etc. I don’t work in the construction sector but have spent the last 3 or 4 years researching different aspects of the project, so I’m already aware of some of the issues we’ll face, e.g. ensuring the EWI joins with the loft insulation, ensuring the airtightness barrier is continuous, ensuring we don’t cause future moisture problems, etc. Is the course likely to be suitable for a keen / interested amateur like myself? Also, will the course give me the knowledge to design detailed aspects of the project, e.g. EWI detailing at junctions with the roof, foundations, doors, windows, etc? We’ve discovered that getting a professional to produce detailed working drawings regarding issues like this can be very expensive. Therefore, if the course provides the required knowledge then I’d willing to design them myself.

A. Tina, who has been editing the course content for readability responds.

In 2010, like you, I was an interested amateur when it came to ultra-low energy retrofit, but I ended up project managing the retrofit of my own home (to around EnerPHit standard). So I am sure that you will be able to absorb the information within the course and use it to good effect. I’m still getting to grips with some of the building physics myself, but even if a couple of details don’t sink in, there is plenty to be gained. The course won’t give you “off the shelf” drawings to use, because what works in one place may not work in another. But it will give you the understanding you need, for example, to tread carefully or be wary of the most risky / tricky areas. And to consider products and approaches that are most likely to be suitable in different circumstances. In the web seminars there is the chance to discuss aspects of your own projects with the tutor and others on the course. And there are case studies of real projects which have been monitored and the results discussed. The heart of the course focuses on minimising heat loss through a fabric first approach, achieving good air quality, and minimising moisture issues – all very relevant for your retrofit project. So I think you would find the course both relevant and “doable.

Q. Do you think that it is suitable for me? I am a project architect, with quite lot of experience of new build housing and a focus on sustainable and technical design. I was project architect for an estate up to RIBA stage E, and I undertook Passivhaus training with Eric at the time (but didn’t complete the course). Will this course repeat a lot of this information, or will it provide new information/ really be more retrofit focused?

A. The course is very much retrofit focused. There will be reference to Passive House principles and other items that you will have covered in your work on new build. (The course provides this info for those starting from a lower level of knowledge). But the real heart of the course is around achieving robust retrofit  – closing the performance gaps of heat, air quality and moisture.

Q. Will I be able to access the CLR course lessons after completing the course?

A. Yes, you will have access to the course material for 12 months after starting the course.  After that, you will have the option to retain access on an annual basis (for a modest fee TBC).

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