City Building was established in 2006 and is now one of the largest construction companies in Scotland. It receives no public funding but has delivered more than £28 million over the last five years to Glasgow City Council for investment in front-line services. Its award-winning Queenslie Training Centre and Constructions Skills Academy are the most successful apprentice-training centres in Scotland. City Building also operates Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries which employs over 240 people, more than half of whom have a disability.
The VIBES judges found the business to be clearly committed to energy efficiency through a range of projects from house and school construction to the provision of training and recognised qualifications.
As the largest apprentice training provider in Scotland, environmental and sustainability awareness is part of induction training for all apprentices and, for the past two years, City Building has also offered dedicated renewables training courses. To date, 67 electrical apprentices have completed the Renewable Awareness Training course as part of their SVQ level 3, 23 have completed NICEIC Solar Photovoltaic course and 8 trade and 20 apprentices have completed the BPEC Solar Thermal installers course, thus ensuring multi-skilled workers in Scotland.
At their head office, City Building has implemented a number of energy saving measures that have given significant economic savings and a reduction in their carbon footprint. For example new gas modulating boilers reduced gas consumption by 40% in their first 8 months, saving 118 tonnes of CO2 and £12,000. Other methods of reducing gas and electricity consumption, including lamp replacement, smart meter use and a monitoring process, have contributed to a 25% reduction in carbon footprint since 2007. Recycling rates and the use of bio-waste have also increased, which has resulted in over 1700 tonnes of material per year being diverted from landfill.
More significantly, the business has undertaken a range of energy and carbon saving measurements on the projects they have worked on providing excellent benefits to their clients. For example, their ‘New Schools Programme’ has achieved an average reduction of 15% in energy costs to local schools. City Building has also undertaken social housing projects, renovating old, inefficient buildings and fitting them with A+ rated condensing gas heating installations and insulated rendering works. These projects achieved important reductions in energy costs, providing significant energy savings to those at greatest risk of fuel poverty.
Their innovative Glasgow House prototype (pictured left) impressed the VIBES judges as it features high standards of insulation and air-tightness, low energy running costs and simple technology with an aim of tackling fuel poverty and reducing the environmental impact. The Glasgow House has been used as a demonstration to show local authorities, housing associations, architects and the Scottish Government what can be achieved. Independent testing by Glasgow’s Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit has confirmed a two-thirds reduction in energy consumption compared with a typical three-bedroom home. The challenge for City Building now is to work with partners to find a way of delivering efficient homes to local communities, despite the tough economic climate and funding constraints.
The judges also highly commended Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries (RSBi), which, before City Building’s intervention, was making a £2 million loss. It is now a profitable, commercial business with more than 50% disabled employees producing furniture, kitchens and timber kits for houses and schools using FSC and PEFC-certified timber.
Finally, their willingness to share knowledge and expertise with a number of partner organisations and clients, including local authorities and housing associations, is highly impressive and commendable.