First brick laid for Bicton EaRTH renewable technologies training and conference centre
27th June 2011
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History was made today as David Henley, Principal of Bicton College laid the first brick for Bicton EaRTH, the new environmental and renewable technology training, information and conference centre. 

Work is starting to transform the barns into a carbon neutral building with a BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) “very good” rating providing tailored, practical training in renewable technologies.  The EaRTH building will generate electrical energy from photo voltaic panels on the south facing roof.  A solar thermal array and air source heat pump will also provide the dual function of heating and cooling the building via underfloor heating and cooling coils. A biomass boiler fed by fuel crops grown on the farm will supplement the under floor heating and rainwater will be harvested for use in the centre. 

David Henley, Principal of Bicton College says, “I am delighted to be part of another milestone for Bicton College. The Bicton EaRTH centre will be a unique learning environment for a host of users from professional trades people to school children, local community groups and students. It will be a fantastic example of environmental practice and renewable technologies and of the College’s commitment to training a new group of professionals able to find rewarding careers and meet the climate change challenge.”

He continues, “All credit goes to the commitment of the staff at the College who have seen this project come to fruition and to our funding partners who share our vision of providing these training and conference facilities in an inspiring and sustainable building. I congratulate all those involved.”

The EaRTH building is designed to provide four workshops for practical training in solar thermal and PV, heat pump, biomass and rainwater harvesting installation and features an interpretation and conference space available for events, workshops and meetings.

The build is financed with funds from Productive Skills for Devon awarded by Devon County Council, Skills Funding Agency and Making it Local together with sponsorship from the EDF Energy Green Fund and the College’s own reserves. The build will be finished by Spring 2012 at a total project cost of £1.48 million. Building is being carried out by Skinner Construction Ltd of Sidmouth, Philip Tucker Managing Director said “We are delighted to be chosen as the Main Contractor for this project as we fully endorse the spirit of this scheme. Having a training facility within the heart of East Devon for renewable technologies will bring awareness to our entire region.  Also, for employers like ourselves we will be in a position to use the training facilities thereby lowering our own carbon footprint.”

Councillor Paul Diviani, Devon County Councillor and Leader of East Devon District Council, Sam Pascoe Carbon GC, John Thorn, TFQ Architects and Jessica Pearce, Granted also attended the ceremony held on the site at Bicton College’s Home Farm.

Bicton EaRTH is currently running 5-day Photovoltaic (PV) Domestic Installation and Maintenance courses (EAL 501-1846-8 Level 3), designed specifically for working electricians, and a Complete Guide to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), giving renewable technology installers the low-down on how to gain MCS accreditation.  Both are being provided from the main Bicton College campus. Solar Thermal Installer Training courses will begin in September 2011. 

For more details about Bicton EaRTH visit call 01395 542571 or text EARTH to 88020.

For information on Bicton College please click here

About EaRTH

EaRTH – Environmental and Renewable Technologies Hub – will be a centre of regional excellence for renewable technology education designed to engage on a practical and relevant level incorporating training units, working technology demonstration areas, an interpretation centre and a conference facility

EaRTH provides training for professional trades people, apprentices and students and is an open resource for schools, communities and businesses seeking advice and inspiration on renewable technology issues.

Visit for further details.

Photograph by Jon Pratt ABIPP.

Large group photo shows David Henley watched by L to R: Jessica Pearce, Granted, Sam Pascoe Carbon GC, Cllr Paul Diviani, Jo Hawkins, Governor, Mark Keast – Skinner Construction Ltd, Jo Wymer, Chair of Governors, John Thorn, TFQ Architects, Ross Cooper, Philip Tucker, Skinner Construction Ltd, Lisa Stroud, EaRTH Programme Project Manager, Martin Uphill, Brian Berry, Skinner Construction Ltd, Simon Glanville - TFQ Architects,

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