Modern Apprentices set sustainable home insulation challenge by CSIC

Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) has launched a Fuel Change Challenge for Modern Apprentices to find a new solutions for sustainable home insulation.

The Hamilton-based innovation centre is one of four similar organisations – plus BAE Systems and a joint challenge from Arcola Energy working with the University of Strathclyde’s Driving the Electric Revolution (DER) initiative – all providing challenges for this year’s Fuel Change programme.

CENSIS, The Data Lab and Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) are also hoping their challenges will see apprentices to develop innovative low carbon solutions to real issues currently being faced by industry and society.

CSIC has tasked apprentices who have signed up for the Fuel Change Challenge to manufacture insulation in Scotland from sustainable materials using specialist small scale manufacturing equipment at its factory in Hamilton, offering a more environmentally friendly alternative to procuring insulation from overseas. 

In 2019 the Fuel Poverty Act set new targets to eradicate fuel poverty by 2040. Sustainable insulation, particularly in retrofitted social housing, will play an important part in achieving that, as well as reaching Scotland’s target to for net zero carbon by 2045.

The challenge asks Modern Apprentice teams to focus on a solution for different types of social housing including:

  • Pre-1919 sandstone tenements  
  • 1960s traditional brick and block with cavity wall  
  • 1980s modern timber frame with cavity wall  

Kirsty Duncan, Skills Coordinator at CSIC, said: “The UK home insulation market alone is worth over £800 million per year. Of this, a staggeringly small amount is made up of natural insulation products – probably less than 1%. However, with the goal of achieving net zero carbon by 2045, Scotland’s built environment must consider new ways to retain heat with sustainable materials and look at the fabric of the building and how we could use alternative products to better insulate homes and other buildings.  

“Reducing waste is also high on the agenda for many organisations, and there could be an opportunity to create insulation from recycled or waste products, reusing materials and products that may otherwise have ended up in landfill.

“The pilot insulation line at our innovation factory creates non-woven insulation products by binding fibres from different types of waste, so it’s a great opportunity for the apprentices to be able to use this to make new innovative products. We can’t wait to see what the Modern Apprentice teams come up with when taking on our challenge.”