New hub North Scotland initiative to help build a low carbon future

May 3, 2023

Collaboration and innovation are key in the drive to net zero

Hub North Scotland is spearheading a pioneering new initiative to accelerate the drive towards building a low carbon future.

The unique partnership between public and private sector organisations across the north of Scotland will pave the way to using low carbon construction solutions to tackle critical issues such as the housing crisis while helping to meet key national policy aims around net zero carbon emissions, place-making and ensuring economic outcomes benefit everyone.

Hub North Scotland has been joined in the ground-breaking move by two collaborators: Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE–ST), Scotland’s national centre for the built environment, and the Innovation School at Glasgow School of Art (GSA).

The three have worked together to develop a three-strand programme for the Hub North Scotland territory, which stretches from Argyll and Bute in the West to Orkney and Shetland in the North and Aberdeen in the East, and includes 16 local authorities, health boards as well as the police, fire, and ambulance services.

The three strands – leadership, learning, and low carbon construction – will be used to bring together the public and private sector to establish not only how to meet net zero carbon planning challenges, but also how to do so in new and innovative ways.

Under the leadership strand, senior officials from the 16 public sector organisations are taking part in a ‘Leadership Workforce’ programme. Alongside which, GSA is also holding a low carbon construction programme for building contractors and the public sector officials. The first sessions were held this week at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.

Both programme groups will work together to use a design-led approach to identifying opportunities and solutions for tackling the challenges of adopting low carbon construction methods.

The third strand has seen BE-ST bring its successful ‘Low Carbon Learning: Next Gen’ programme for schools and further education centres to the Hub North Scotland territory through a series of workshops in locations such as Lochgilphead, Inverness, Shetland, and Moray over the next three months.

Next Gen is designed to give 13-24-year-olds hands-on experience during its workshops covering training on crucial areas such as modern methods of construction, digital construction, Passivhaus energy efficient buildings and retrofitting existing buildings to make them more energy efficient.

BE-ST has also compiled a resource guide for teachers and educators to support student and apprenticeship development. The guide contains content on sustainable and net zero methods, gives practical examples of best practice, identifies routes into industry experience and highlights resources available.

Paul McGirk, Executive Chairman of hub North Scotland said the new initiative has been driven by hub North’s Strategic Territory Partnering Board, who recognised a joint approach across the region was the best way of helping the public sector organisations meet their requirements and policy aims.

He added: “We need greater collaboration to create a net zero carbon infrastructure in the built environment, not just in the hub North Scotland territory but also across the whole of Scotland. By working with BE-ST and GSA, we are giving our public sector partners the opportunity to look together at new ways of doing this which will help them meet their requirements and at the same time unlock potential additional investment opportunities.”

Douglas Morrison, Deputy CEO at BE-ST, said: “Innovation and collaboration are key to finding and embedding solutions to the net zero carbon challenge. Both the leadership and skills workshops will create opportunities for these two critical drivers to take shape and accelerate progress in a unified way.”

Photograph: One of the low carbon workshops being held at the Robert Gordon University.