Experienced architect and certified Passivhaus designer give thumbs up to our retrofit training

Meet the students and find out why they are recommending our retrofit training

We are excited to be preparing certificates for students who have now come to the end of their retrofit training. Other students have chosen to do the course over a longer period of time which is proving just how adaptable the training can be when students lead busy lives.

We caught up with some students to find out a bit more about them, their experience of the course and most importantly, how it will help them.

Photo credit: Margaret Reynolds
Photo credit: Margaret Reynolds

Margaret, an Architect in practice for 33 years, has been involved in low-carbon design since taking a Masters in Environmental Design at Cambridge University in the late nineties.  She tells us that for 7 years following this specialist degree, she found the world of practice almost completely unreceptive to green design.  Finally joining a low-carbon architects practice in 2006, she worked on a range of projects including renovations and extensions and in 2010, resurrected her own practice, M Reynolds RIBA, continuing her quest for lowcarbon design with projects including a 1930’s semi extension and an eco retrofit to the AECB Building Standard.

Having also trained as an energy assessor, Margaret was searching for a realistic and accurate carbon assessment system for her clients and was delighted to find ‘kindred souls’ at the AECB, using the Passivhaus Planning Package’s (PHPP) high-accuracy spreadsheets to assess buildings.  Most of her project solutions  are unlikely to reach the Passivhaus (PH) or EnerPHit Standards, but many clients can target the AECB Building Standard.  Attending the AECB 2016 conference, Margaret was able to find out more about the retrofit training course and was keen to join the CarbonLite Retrofit (CLR) training course as soon as possible.

She says; “After 15 years of working on low-energy retrofit and extension projects I am finding the CLR course and PHPP to be brilliant tools to apply to my Practice’s future projects.”

low carbon house
Margaret was project architect for this low carbon house by A C Architects Cambridge Ltd. Credit: Margaret Reynolds

“CLR and PHPP are already informing my design work for young couples wishing to enlarge and eco-retrofit properties, to permit and enhance a low-carbon lifestyle in the centre of Cambridge.  CLR gives me survey strategies, possible risk identification, Ventilation strategies, ways of analysing and ordering expenditure to get a low-carbon result suitable for particular clients needs, and ongoing research back-up.  PHPP lets me compare a range of solutions , helping get the best cost and carbon values.”

Margaret has been asked to give a talk about CLR to Transition Cambridge Energy Group  in the new year and has been recommending the course to others.  Her completed projects will continue to be toured as part of the Open Eco-Homes  annual weekends run by Cambridge Carbon Footprint and information about projects is made available in the OEH archives.

Next, we caught up with Junko, a certified Passivhaus Designer who has worked in the architectural industry for more than 25 years. She also joined the first cohort of students and has now completed the course.  Junko had been concentrating in the past on new build, low energy projects but was finding herself dealing with retrofit projects more recently involving complicated issues such as moisture.  Eager to ensure she could plan and start these projects as effectively as possible was the reason she joined the retrofit training course.

Studying, whilst dealing with low energy retrofit projects in parallel has been a valuable experience for Junko as she has been able to put her learning into practice immediately.  Whilst she has now completed the course, Junko is proof that falling behind is not something to worry about.  She missed two of the webinars, designed to discuss homework projects, but she was able to watch the recordings at a later date.  The webinars, she says are incredibly useful and a chance to look at real projects and discuss real issues.  She would recommend that future students try to make the webinars where possible, as there is the opportunity to review and discuss one of your own projects with the experienced tutors.

Junko found the module on moisture quite challenging but very interesting.  This is something she will re-visit when needed as the course allows students access to course materials for a year and they can then pay a nominal fee to keep updated with the course in the future.

Simon, an architect from Bristol sums up the course by saying; “I enrolled on this course to learn the key principles and elements of retrofit with the intention of using the knowledge gained to enable me to look at my own house and to then be able to advise potential clients on works to theirs. The course content has been invaluable in understanding issues and showing how to analyse various building types prior to compiling a retro-fit plan. I have greatly enjoyed the learning experience. The course material will be a handy reference point for consultation.”

Es, a building energy consultant and certified Passivhaus designer concludes with this review of the course; “The knowledge gained on this course will enable me to confidently take on deep retrofits of existing buildings, something I would have been nervous to do previously, even with my Passivhaus qualification. The course focuses not just on energy use and comfort but also minimising and managing moisture risks, which can be considerable in retrofits, and can be made worse by bad practice. The scale of the retrofit challenge in the UK is considerable and the AECB Carbonlite course is a great course – and since it’s online can be studied at your own pace. I’d highly recommend it to anybody”.

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