“If the building professionals are not coming to corresponding trainings, the trainings have to come to construction site”Naghmeh Altmann, AEA - Austrian Energy Agency (Austria)

Once upon a time

  • The protagonist:

Alex is an architect, trainer and energy advisor. He checks the quality of installed elements and locates the leakages of the building shell on the construction site. He has been working in this field for many years and has experienced various challenges during his work. He proves his engagement in construction of energy efficient buildings in supporting the building owners and in training construction workers as well as installers.

  • The situation:

In Austria, energy advisors are trained and educated to evaluate the efficiency and sustainability of buildings and give according recommendations to the building owner. They visit building owners at the point of renovation and/or new construction and recommend specific energy efficiency or sustainability measures to avoid construction errors. The work of energy advisors is very useful to ensure the quality of work, but up to now this kind of end user consultancy is supported by only one federal province in Austria by subsidies, namely Corinthia.

Then one day

In his function as an energy expert, Alex carries out blower-door tests, thermography and teaches about energy efficiency measures at different institutions. He knows that construction companies often are not willing to send their employees to training, because either they are needed at the construction site or the professionals themselves believe they have been trained enough and they know how to do their work.

Alex also knows that a blower-door test makes leakages of the building shell (failures according to energy efficiency) clearly visible. So, he integrated the blower-door test on the construction site into his training. During the training, first the attending building professionals show confidence that they had performed their work perfectly. Then, they see the air (smoke) that goes through leakages and they start to think about where the construction error has occurred.

Only afterwards, the building professionals realise how important it is to go beyond their professional expertise in their own profession and how easily an airtight building envelope can be damaged. Moreover, they recognize that a highly energy efficient building can only be constructed in seamless cooperation with the other crafts on the construction site.

The moral

Even small mistakes in the construction can lead to increased energy consumption and loss of indoor comfort. Therefore, the quality of construction work is immensely important when constructing nearly zero-energy buildings. The correct installation of the building elements and products is important to minimise construction errors.

If the building professionals are not coming to corresponding training, the training has to come to the construction site in the opinion of Alex. He is convinced that regular quality checks all through the construction phase avoid respective construction errors and guarantee low energy costs in the operation phase of nearly zero emission buildings (nZEBs).

Naghmeh Altmann

Senior expert in buildings, AEA – Austrian Energy Agency (Austria)

Naghmeh has been working for the Austrian Energy Agency in the building department and is involved in Build Up Skills and other European funded projects dealing with implementing energy efficiency in the buildings.