Building the future: Greenworks academy

11th November 2013


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Construction ,
  • Supply chain ,
  • Procurement ,
  • Employee engagement ,
  • Training



the environmentalist learns about a training facility on skills for sustainable building launched in 2011

Launched in 2011 by building suppliers Gibbs & Dandy, Graham, Jewson and Minster, the Greenworks Academy is a multipurpose training facility in Birmingham providing education and support to help its businesses and customers reap opportunities in the renewable energy and sustainable building sector. The academy offers courses and accredited training in installing green building solutions, ranging from solar photovoltaics (PV) and rainwater harvesting to external wall insulation and heat pumps.

The UK’s carbon reduction ambitions are putting considerable pressure on the construction industry to deliver low-carbon new builds and cut the energy consumption of existing buildings through refurbishment. These demands can only be met by “an army of construction professionals trained in renewable energy and sustainable building”, says Marcus Jefford, Greenworks operations and marketing director.

Sustainable investment

The academy is the result of a £500,000 investment by Jewson and its sister brands. Jefford says this demonstrates the group’s commitment to training tradespeople and internal staff so that they have the knowledge and skills needed for the sustainable building agenda.

The 15,000 square-foot, purpose-built academy building offers a practical, solution-led approach to training. As well as three training rooms, there is an open-plan space with real-life settings and demonstration areas, where 60 learners can be trained at the same time. These training areas include room sets for wet and dry work, low-level roofing rigs for installing solar thermal and PV systems, external wall insulation models, an elevated drainage pit and live rainwater harvesting systems.

“The demonstration areas enable course attendees to develop hands-on, practical skills in a realistic situation,” says Jefford. “We are constantly having to dismantle and rebuild or alter the sets because renewable technologies and building solutions are evolving all the time.”

The academy has trained about 3,600 internal staff and more than 4,000 customers, and its influence has already exceeded expectations. “We envisaged that the majority of courses and consultancy would be delivered locally, or maybe regionally, but our reach extends as far afield as Scotland and Devon,” says Jefford. “The uptake of courses demonstrates the need for this type of training.”

Training prospectus

The academy runs more than 30 training programmes, and the number is increasing. Since launching, it has delivered more than 50,000 hours of training covering a broad range of introductory, qualification and accreditation courses. These have included renewable energy awareness days, installation training and, more recently, green deal assessor and installer certifications.

“Our training provides clear routes for customers to become members of government-approved certification schemes that encourage high standards in sustainable construction and refurbishment,” comments Jefford.

The training programmes and consultancy support the academy provides are constantly evolving in response to government and legislative changes, and new products. “We have to be an open window to the wide and varied needs of the marketplace and continually improve our offering,” says Jefford.

“There is a huge desire for education and skills in new technologies so that businesses can deliver more sustainable solutions to their customers, and the academy is directly supporting that agenda.”

To complement its practical and hands-on training, the academy also offers e-learning options. Greenworks’ online learning gateway ( enables customers to access modules on a range of sustainable products and solutions, renewable technologies and legislation updates.

The free service provides a host of online tutorials featuring bite-sized chunks of information on areas such as insulation, water management, timber, building fabric solutions and renewables.

Most courses take 40 minutes to an hour and involve spoken tutorials rather than “endless on-screen reading”. There are more than 70 hours of tutorials available on Greenworks’ website and the academy is continually adding new courses.

Case study: Futurebright Solutions

Based in Staffordshire, Futurebright Solutions is benefiting from the training its team underwent at the Greenworks Academy. Futurebright is a new company specialising in the installation and maintenance of solar PV systems. Although director Chris Parkes was experienced in the building trade, to operate a business in renewable energy installation he needed new knowledge, skills and qualifications.

The company’s roofers and electricians, as well as Parkes himself, spent three days at the academy gaining hands-on experience of how to install PV systems and developing an insight into the relevant legislation, market drivers and available products. After further support and training, the company is now accredited under the microgeneration certification scheme and plans to extend its training with Greenworks to cover other renewable technologies so that it can expand the business.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Renewables account for almost half of Britain’s power generation

Solar power generation hit a new high in the last quarter as renewables accounted for almost half of Britain’s energy production, according to a report from Montel Analytics.

18th July 2024

Read more

Only a third of the emission reductions required for the UK to achieve net zero by 2030 are covered by credible plans, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has warned today.

18th July 2024

Read more

Almost three-fifths of UK environmental professionals feel there is a green skills gap across the country’s workforce, or that there will be, a new survey has uncovered.

4th July 2024

Read more

Three in five British adults want more public involvement in the planning system, which could be at odds with Labour’s plans to boost economic growth, IEMA research has found.

3rd July 2024

Read more

Ahead of the UK general election next month, IEMA has analysed the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and Green Party manifestos in relation to the sustainability agenda.

19th June 2024

Read more

Nine in 10 UK adults do not fully trust brands to accurately portray their climate commitments or follow the science all the time, a new survey has uncovered.

19th June 2024

Read more

Just one in 20 workers aged 27 and under have the skills needed to help drive the net-zero transition, compared with one in eight of the workforce as a whole, new LinkedIn data suggests.

18th June 2024

Read more

Consumers are flexing their purchasing power in support of more sustainable products and services. Dr Andrew Coburn, CEO of sustainability intelligence and analytics firm, Risilience, considers the risk of greenwashing and sets out three key steps businesses can take to avoid the pitfalls and meet the opportunities of changing consumer demand.

18th June 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close