What is the CarbonLite Retrofit Self-Certification system and does this standard relate to a statutory requirement of framework, e.g. building control or planning?

You will receive a certificate saying you have passed the CarbonLite Retrofit course.  There is no current accreditation but it is hoped this will apply to projects in the future.  This is a new course, which we intend will become known for its rigour.  As far as we know there are no similar courses available at present.

Is self-certification only to be for retrofit works?

Yes, the CarbonLite Retrofit course enables you to self-certificate retrofits only. The existing Carbonlite Silver certification is probably the closest equivalent for new build, and there is of course overlap in terms of key principles such as ventilation, insulation, air quality etc. However, existing standards for new build don’t cover the ins and outs of existing buildings and the range of issues that they sometimes can present before, during and after retrofit. Hence, this course focuses on achieving suitable energy targets for retrofit while at the same time considering the health of the building and the occupants.

Passivhaus Designer training

I have just qualified under the Carbonlite Passivhaus designer course . Can I expect this course to extend my PH designer knowledge to greater specific retrofit expertise? Does it actually offer others without the PH expertise already an alternative/upgrade approach to gain some of the knowledge that the PH course has already provided?

There is reference in this course to PH methodology (although not all participants will have that level of knowledge). However, existing standards for new build, including PH, don’t cover the ins and outs of existing buildings and the range of issues that they can present before, during and after retrofit. Hence, this course focuses on achieving suitable energy targets for retrofit, with particular focus on the additional risks and issues relevant when dealing with existing buildings.

Course duration and timescale

How long will the course take?

If you follow the schedule, the course will take 6 months.  If you do not wish to follow the schedule, you will have a year to complete the course, but bear in mind if you get behind the schedule you be watching pre-recorded on-line tutorials, may not have feedback on your homework and will not be able to present questions for the tutorials or have your homework discussed in the on-line tutorials.   We think the schedule is a useful tool to keep students on track and for us to structure support around, but recognise it will not suit all students commitments through the course period.

Will I be able to access the CLR course lessons after completing the course?

Yes, you will have access to the course material for 12 months after starting the course.

After that, you will have the option to retain access on an annual basis (for a modest fee, TBC).

This means that as the course is updated or improved over time, you will have access to the latest, most up to date version.

I’m assuming there are a number of lessons per week, is that correct? 

Yes, some modules are longer than others but the number of lessons per week should be roughly similar throughout. Modules are over a minimum of 10 days and considerably more for the longer more technically demanding and longer ones.  We have allowed some flexibility to allow for holidays or other commitments.

What is the deadline for joining the course?

You need to be signed up and paid by 1st October 2016 to start the course on 7th October 2016.

What elements of the course do I need to do at a fixed time? Or are they all flexible?

In order to get the most from the course, each Module should be completed within the time frame suggested in order to get the most benefit from the on-line tutorial.  We estimate that you will need around 5 hours per week to commit to the course but in some modules and around homework/tutorials, slightly more may be needed. Much of this depends on your current knowledge, reading speed etc.

The on-line tutorials are fixed dates and times.  Although they can be accessed afterwards as a recording, this means you won’t be involved in the discussion and your homework is unlikely to be chosen as a case study as you will not be there to present it.    

Do you think I can realistically do this course while working full time?

Yes. The course is spread over a 6-month period so that a wide range of busy people can manage it.

How many hours per week would I typically need to spend on this course?

We estimate that you will need around 5 hours per week to commit to the course, but in some modules and around homework times and tutorials slightly more may be needed.  Much depends on your current knowledge, reading speed, etc.

How flexible is the course? I am working full time, so I’m wondering if the Friday online seminars are a fixed live event, or something I can catch up on, on my commute or over the weekend?

The on-line seminars are the only element of the course that are fixed. Although they can be accessed afterwards as a recording, this means you won’t be involved in the discussion and your homework in unlikely to be chosen as a case study as you will not be there to present it.

I am considering enrolling for the retrofit course but have a number of commitments/holidays planned. I notice that I can fit the online modules around these commitments but are there any fixed dates (for group discussion etc.) that I will be at risk of missing. If so, when will these be? 

We have planned on-line seminars for the core modules.  If you see the row, ‘On-Line Seminar’, you will see the planned dates for these.  There is a possibility that there might be other options, so do let us know if you have any problematic dates.

I already have a commitment on the start of the course date.  Can I see the content of the webinar later?

The start date is the date that Module 1 becomes available. As it is an introductory module, there is no webinar associated with it.

Are you able to give an estimate of the expected duration of the course please, e.g. how many hours per week?

Some sections will be more challenging than others and this will partly be dependent on where your existing knowledge is strongest and also your reading speed.  As a rough guide, we estimate between 5 and 10 hours per week and anticipate nearer 5.  We have built in an expectation that people will have other commitments like holidays, when they will take breaks.  The idea is that it should be possible to undertake the course alongside other commitments.

Course content

How important is it to read the links to other information in the lessons?

If a linked article or pdf says “essential reading” during the lesson or at the end where footnotes and reading lists are listed, then you need to read it.
Anything listed as recommended or suggested reading is optional.
Some links are just footnotes, references for those who like to check back to the source material.

Do you think that the course is suitable for me? I am a project architect, with quite lot of experience of new build housing and a focus on sustainable and technical design. Will this course repeat a lot of this information or will it provide new information/ really be more retrofit focused?

The course is very much retrofit focused. There will be reference to Passive House principles and other items that you will have covered in your work on new build. (The course provides this info for those starting from a lower level of knowledge). But the real heart of the course is around achieving robust retrofit  – closing the performance gaps of heat, air quality and moisture.

I’m currently considering whether to book a place on the new retrofit on-line course and just wanted to check whether I’m a suitable candidate and if it covers topics of specific relevance to our project. We’re currently planning an eco refurb of a 1960s bungalow and, mainly due to the cost implications, I’m going to be project manager and probably part-time labourer too! The project will involve a small extension, moving numerous internal walls (some load-bearing), moving the kitchen / bathrooms and installing new drainage, new high-performance doors and windows, cavity wall insulation and probably external wall insulation too, greatly improving airtightness, installing MVHR, etc. I don’t work in the construction sector but have spent the last 3 or 4 years researching different aspects of the project, so I’m already aware of some of the issues we’ll face, e.g. ensuring the EWI joins with the loft insulation, ensuring the airtightness barrier is continuous, ensuring we don’t cause future moisture problems, etc. Is the course likely to be suitable for a keen / interested amateur like myself? Also, will the course give me the knowledge to design detailed aspects of the project, e.g. EWI detailing at junctions with the roof, foundations, doors, windows, etc? We’ve discovered that getting a professional to produce detailed working drawings regarding issues like this can be very expensive. Therefore, if the course provides the required knowledge then I’d willing to design them myself.

Tina, who has been editing the course content for readability responds. ‘In 2010, like you, I was an interested amateur when it came to ultra-low energy retrofit, but I ended up project managing the retrofit of my own home (to around EnerPHit standard). So I am sure that you will be able to absorb the information within the course and use it to good effect. I’m still getting to grips with some of the building physics myself, but even if a couple of details don’t sink in, there is plenty to be gained. The course won’t give you “off the shelf” drawings to use, because what works in one place may not work in another. But it will give you the understanding you need, for example, to tread carefully or be wary of the most risky / tricky areas. And to consider products and approaches that are most likely to be suitable in different circumstances. In the web seminars there is the chance to discuss aspects of your own projects with the tutor and others on the course. And there are case studies of real projects which have been monitored and the results discussed. The heart of the course focuses on minimising heat loss through a fabric first approach, achieving good air quality, and minimising moisture issues – all very relevant for your retrofit project. So I think you would find the course both relevant and “doable”’.

Course costs