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Fit-to-NZEB: Innovative training schemes for retrofitting to nZEB-levels

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Fit-to-nZEB, a Horizon 2020 project continuing the legacy of the BUILD UP Skills Initiative within the Construction Skills topical area, aims to increase the competence and skills of the building professionals in 7 European countries - Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Romania - through unique educational programmes and pilot training courses, which will contribute to both the quality and the scale of the deep energy building renovations throughout EU.


Overview: project and major results


Exactly two years ago, Fit-to-NZEB started with an ambitious task: to set up a full range of innovative qualification and training schemes for deep energy building retrofitting supported by RES.


This target included both elaboration of new training programmes and materials for all professional groups and support for development of innovative training facilities - with the goal to provide world-class practical training on building renovations aiming at Nearly Zero-Energy Buildings (nZEB) levels.


Today, the following results are on display:


- A full review of deep renovation   n training programmes and materials;


- A set of learning outcomes on 17 topics related to deep energy retrofit, distributed according to the relevant EQF levels;


- 7 model training programmes, ranging from Master programmes’ classes to short-term upskilling courses;


- Training materials on each of the 17 topics, including annotated presentations, exercises, examination questions and references;


- Fully equipped training facilities in 7 European countries;


- More than 150 newly trained trainers, capable to deliver the new training content using the practical training facilities;


- More than 20 pilot courses conducted in universities, professional high schools and vocational training centers, subject to continuous monitoring for improvement of the training schemes;


- A constantly growing number of Memoranda of Understanding with education and training providers willing to use the new training programmes and materials


- A large and constantly growing network of dedicated professionals, for whom deep energy retrofit has become a part of the daily routine and a source of professional pride and identity.


What’s in there for you?


Learning outcomes: new knowledge, skills and competences for deep energy retrofit


Based on a thorough review of the existing training programmes and materials on deep energy retrofit and an analysis of the training gaps in the involved countries, a compendium of the knowledge, skills and competences required for deep energy retrofit was developed.


The learning outcomes, organized in 17 distinct topics of relevance to nZEB-level retrofit process, are defined for each targeted level along the EQF.


The required technical competences are collected and analyzed according to the identified needs of the pre-defined target groups – the main beneficiaries of the project, in close cooperation within a broad network of local stakeholders.


Demonstration and practical training models


A key component of the Fit-to-nZEB project is the organization of practical training facilities. The design of retrofit models for the purpose of training serve two functions:


a) Demo models for the purpose of demonstration of typical construction detailing and sequence of elements as well as for sketching exercise, discussion and oral examination;


b) Practice models that more or less correspond to the demo model construction types but for the purpose of hands-on practical training and examination.


Detailed guidelines for establishing of dedicated practical training facilities are freely available at, ready for use by any interested training provider.


Model training programmes


Based on the set of learning outcomes and the feedback from the international train-the-trainer activities, model training programmes on deep energy building renovation for higher education establishments (EQF level 6-7) specializing in architecture and civil engineering, professional high schools for architecture, construction and mechanical engineering, and specialized vocational training centers with a focus on hands-on training were developed.


Just as the set of learning outcomes, the model programmes are not a requirement for training and educational institutions but on the contrary – a reference and even an invitation for re-design by any interested VET provider, according to its own training plan and agenda.


Training materials


Upon signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the coordinator of the project or the national partner, any interested VET provider can receive for non-commercial educational purposes a set of 17 high-quality presentations, including notes, exercises, test questions and references.


Thus, encouraging open cooperation in the sector by providing a shared knowledge base, the project paves the way for future common action, targeting mutual recognition of nZEB-related skills and competences among an increasing number of countries


Next steps


With a network of Building Knowledge Hubs currently active in 9 European countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine – the project team is willing to position itself as one of the most recognized nZEB training establishments, offering world-class upskilling courses sourced customized to the local needs and in collaboration with the construction industry.


To this end, a certain set of requirements is needed, including continuing cooperation with the leading research institutes, mutual recognition of training results and common certification, integration of innovative tools and methods (including on-site and web-facilitated training) in the training scheme.


It however would not be enough: in order to stimulate the demand for NZEB training, we need a steady demand for NZEBs on the real estate market.


This, in no doubt, is a complex task requiring common efforts by policy makers, industrial and market actors, and the civil society, but in all cases, the Building Knowledge Hubs’ network will be an active part of the process, as our mission remains intact: to constantly increase the competence and skills of the building professional to deliver high quality nearly zero-energy buildings.