Green Shoots at SERC as New Zero Carbon Centre Opens at Holywood Campus

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04 June 2024

SERC representatives and guests including the Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Jennifer Gilmour, gather outside the retrofitted pavilion at SERC Holywood Campus

The Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council, Councillor Jennifer Gilmour, joined industry experts and business representatives at South Eastern Regional College (SERC) Holywood Campus last Thursday (30 May) for the launch of the college’s new Zero Carbon Centre at the site. The launch of the new facility formed part of the Northern Ireland-wide Big Business Breakfast, which was hosted across all six FE colleges to highlight the support available to companies and organisations.  

SERC welcomed guests to tour the facilities, which is the first base in Northern Ireland for delivering pioneering courses in green technologies.  The college has worked with employers and awarding bodies to develop qualifications with a strong practical element to promote the skills which industry needs.  A host of new courses and skills will be taught in state-of-the-art facilities adapted from shipping containers. 

Breakfast was served in a building which has been retrofitted to incorporate new technologies for controlling heat and energy storage, and to reduce carbon emissions. The building will serve as an exemplar to green technology students of how the challenges of energy security and environmental impact can be met in while making a building more comfortable for people using it.    

Guests heard from Brenda Roddy, Belfast City Council’s Climate Change Project Officer, about the issues facing Northern Ireland in terms of meeting net zero targets and safeguarding the environment.  Francis Reilly of Unilin and Brian Rankin of Choice Housing Association explored different ways to tackle the challenges.   

Speaking at the launch, Paul Henry, SERC’s Lead Business Manager for Engineering Services, said:  “What we heard today from our guest speakers was a clear message that there is an urgent need to look at how existing housing, commercial and public buildings can be adapted and upgraded to minimise any negative environmental impact. SERC can play an important role in achieving climate and net zero targets by pioneering new, practical courses which help to develop a workforce skilled in installing and maintaining environmentally friendly facilities and equipment.   

“SERC has worked with awarding bodies to develop a new Level 5 retrofit qualification with a strong practical element and the college is the first in NI to offer this. We now have the facilities and resources to support the practical assessment element. The course is validated by the OCN and approved by the Building Standards Institute and is just one in a raft of courses devised to promote upskilling in green technologies.”    

SERC is very grateful to Connected, which sponsored the business breakfast, and to the sponsors of the new zero carbon centre: Baxi, Phoenix Gas, Unilin, Grant, Warmflow and U Value Insulation.