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International acclaim for new Erne Campus

INTERNATIONAL experts were left highly impressed by the energy efficient, environmentally excellent standards of Enniskillen’s Erne Campus at the UN climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow last week, where the college was held up as an example of eco excellence.
Images of Enniskillen were proudly beamed across the conference, which was attended by dignitaries and delegates from right across the planet, last Thursday when the £30 million South West College (SWC) campus was used as a case study during a keynote speech and panel discussion.
Held up as an example of how innovative design and high performance, sustainable production at the Green Zone event, the SWC talk brought together world class experts for a keynote speech and panel discussion.
The opening address was delivered by Dr Jill Cush, deputy chief executive of the college, who led the SWC delegation on the trip to Glasgow.
Dr Cush described the Erne Campus as “an international exemplar” in the latest sustainable construction practices, and spoke of the role the college played in equipping the workforce with the skills they need now and into the future.
This was followed by a speech by Scott Foster, director of Director of Sustainable Energy at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
Mr Foster spoke of how tackling climate change must consider the differing needs of people in different parts of the world.
“Everyone seems to think we have a choice to make between dealing with climate change, or not dealing with it. It’s much more complicated than that,” he said.
“For the western world, climate change is number one on the list of priorities but for the vast portion of humanity they are also worried about putting food on their tables and a roof over their heads. We can’t say we are going to ask them to forego their quality of life ambitions while we deal with the climate change problem that the richer part of the universe has created.
“We need to come up with integrated solutions that deal with the climate issue and that deliver quality of life which meets those aspirations at a global level.”
The panel discussion, which was open to questions from the public, was then chaired by internationally renowned sustainability champion, Prof Alan Strong, who questioned the experts on how attitudes and behaviours towards the built environment could be changed.
The panel heard from a number of speakers, including Ed Lowes representing the Passive House Institute, and Dr Danielle McKelvey, deputy head of school, natural and built environment at SWC.
Dr Barry McCarron, SWC acting head of business development, outlined to the conference the transition made by the college from the old Fairview Campus at Gaol Square in Enniskillen, which was built in the 1970s, to the new state-of-the-art Erne Campus.
He said the COP26 had raised the consciousness of building regulations and high performance buildings, and spoke of the importance of encouraging students to embrace the principles of Passive House, stating anyone can reach those standards.
Concluding the panel session, Prof Strong urged greater collaboration between academia and the construction industry, quoting US Special Envoy John Kerry in stating we must cooperate together.

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