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An investigation of the required skills for the delivery of low and zero carbon buildings within a region

Bevan, W. (2016) An investigation of the required skills for the delivery of low and zero carbon buildings within a region. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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The UK is committed to a raft of requirements to create a low carbon economy. As buildings consume approximately 40% of UK energy demand, any improvement on the energy performance of buildings can contribute to the delivery of a low carbon economy. The challenge for the construction sector and its clients is how to meet the policy requirements to deliver low and zero carbon (LZC) buildings, which span broader than the individual building level to requirements at local and regional levels, and wider sustainability pressures. Further, the construction sector is reporting of skills shortages surrounding the need for ‘project management skills’ and ‘communication skills’ within construction projects, and further requirement of ‘new skills,’ ‘green skills’ and ‘low carbon skills’ for the delivery of LZC buildings. The aim of this research was to identify, and better understand, the skills required for the delivery of LZC buildings within a region. The theoretical framing for this investigation was regional innovation systems (RIS) using a socio-technical network analysis (STNA) methodology. Both deductive and inductive approaches were adopted, which framed the investigation. A single case study approach of a local authority region was chosen. Data collection consisted of a review of relevant documentation, observations and semi-structured interviews with five school retrofit projects within the region. The research results revealed the complexity surrounding the form and operation of the LZC networks for the school retrofit projects. Key findings identified principal actor groups and their required skills for the delivery of LZC buildings: communication skills, energy management skills and project management skills required by the local authority; communication skills and technical skills required by the energy efficient measure (EEM) contractors; and communication skills and project management skills required by the school end-users. Technical skills and energy management skills captured the need for ‘new skills’ surrounding the adopted EEM technology, however, there was little evidence of the required skills being associated with ‘green skills.’ The primary contribution to the RIS theory is empirical evidence that captures the significance of specific RIS ‘elements’ and ‘mechanisms,’ and highlights challenges within the RIS system. Adaptations to the RIS framework recognises the need for interactions between RIS components and their involvement to describe, explain and predict the innovativeness of a region. In consideration to skills theory, the investigation provided insights and captured meanings surrounding the type of required skills for the delivery of LZC buildings. Implications for policy practice may surround the management of the RIS framework, and further tensions between skill development within the region and policy pressures.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Lu, S.-L. and Sexton, M.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Construction Management and Engineering
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Construction Management and Engineering
ID Code:69060


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