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Erne Newsletter November Update

Erne Campus Newsletter

Erne Campus Continues Commitment to Sustainability

The Erne Campus will be the first Passive House Premium project of any kind in the UK, continuing our commitment towards sustainability, previously seen with the awarding winning CREST Centre, which opened in 2016 as the first Passivhaus Certified Educational building in the UK.

Bennett Freehill are the design team at the centre of this progress, and they are working towards making the Erne Campus a modern and class leading building, designed to reach both BREEAM Outstanding rating and the elusive and highly respected PassivHause Premium standard. Their role in the project is diverse, but their focus in particular has been on delivering the core concept and specification carried forward by the contractor team; reviewing contractor progress on site in order to monitor progress and quality; and acting act as Passivhouse Observer, monitoring the progress of the Passivhouse certification process.

This third role is particularly crucial, as Passivhous is at the core the Erne Campus project. Passivhaus buildings provide a high level of occupant comfort while using very little energy for heating and cooling. They are built with meticulous attention to detail and rigorous design and construction according to principles developed by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany. The highest level for Passivhouse standard – and the goal for the Erne Campus – is PassiveHaus Premium, and this rating comes when a building produces far more energy than it needs. 

Unsurprisingly, there are strict standards that have to be met in order to achieve this accreditation, and early decisions were crucial, because things like siting, orientation, building form, and fenestration, have a major impact on the viability and economy of achieving Passivhaus, and may be impossible to change later in the project.

There are a few general strategies towards achieving PassiveHouse standards which are typically employed in the UK – including using high levels of Building Insulation, extremely high performance glazing and curtain walling, airtight building fabric to prevent heat loss, and mechanical ventilation with highly efficient heat recovery – but there are also some elements more specific and even unique to the Erne Campus Building.

With the Erne Campus, the specific strategy for achieving premium started with the shape and position of the building. The elongated crescent shape of the building, with its south facing front glazed façade, has been designed to track the movement of the sun throughout the day, harnessing its heat to provide solar gain and an unlimited source of free heating.

One of the most innovative aspects of the design is the Earth Pipe system, which is a very simple system that delivers a free constant source of heating and cooling to the building, further lowering the energy requirements. The earth pipe system is connected to the mechanical ventilations system, and is used to pre-heat the air in the winter and pre-cool the air in the summer. This system consists of large tubes placed in the earth, approximately 1.5m deep, where the ground temperature will range between 7-13°C throughout the year. These systems, and many more besides, are what help make the building, in the words of Bennett Freehill themselves, “an excellent international demonstration of how to successfully implement an energy efficient and cost effective building through the use of Passivhaus and renewables.”

South West College is proud to be continue this commitment towards sustainability, as significantly reducing the emissions of our buildings is vital if the UK is to make a meaningful contribution towards reducing global emissions. The major challenge in doing this is not the physical or technical adoption of the Passivhaus concepts, but rather the momentum in the construction industry’s culture and habits, and it is hoped that the Erne campus will be trailblazing in this regard.

Workhouse Project Apprenticeship Opportunities

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and South West College are making strides to ensure that the Enniskillen Workhouse maintains its history, while also playing an important part in the local area’s future. The £2.156m Enniskillen Workhouse project, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, has enabled the appointment of Robert Fitzpatrick as Heritage (Construction) Education and Skills Co-ordinator at South West College.

Robert says, “I am delighted to have been appointed as workhouse skills coordinator. The building is situated in a part of town I grew up in, so I understand its historical and social importance to the community. My background in training and development, particularly apprenticeships, also makes the project even more exciting for me.”

The planned Business Incubation & Heritage Centre will be a fitting way to use the Enniskillen Workhouse once it is restored. The incubation facility for new technology business will provide a supportive environment for graduates to develop new technology ideas. Gathering these entrepreneurs under one roof will establish sustainable business ventures in the community and beyond, meaning that what was once was a building of bleakness and despair will become a centre of opportunity to local people.

As FODC and SWC embark on the restoration of the workhouse, the project is providing opportunities for 12 individuals to achieve an NVQ Level 3 heritage skills (construction) qualification, meaning news skills and qualifications will be created and carried into the future.

This apprenticeship programme provides an opportunity to achieve a Level 3 qualification in heritage skills in 18 months and receive a generous training bursary with the prospect of then securing full time employment with a number of local companies. In addition, another 120 mainstream construction workers and contractors will be given the opportunity to undertake a Level 3 award in understanding the maintenance and repair of pre 1919 buildings which will incorporate visits to the workhouse project.

Robert adds, “Both FODC and SWC have come together to recognise the importance of educating young people with practical skills and knowledge to secure future full-time employment in the local area. It is hoped that throughout this project local apprentices will play their part in the completion of the Enniskillen workhouse restoration project and for the building to sit alongside the wonderful new South West College campus, as a centre of historical significance and of future opportunity for the entire community, as well as a fantastic location that local people and tourists will want to come visit.”

SWC Set the Pace with New Sport Facilities  

Sport is forever evolving, and for those involved the challenge is always to keep up and move forward with it. In education, this means providing the necessary facilities and training for students interested in sport, in the hope that they can form an idea of what they want to do in the future. As such, the sports department at South West College have worked directly with the Erne Campus developers and designers over the last few years, creating a platform from which to deliver some of the best sporting education in Ireland. 

Chris McDowell, co-ordinator for Level 3 Sport and Exercise Science, explains, ‘In the past, Sports Courses had a focus on several traditional career paths, such as personal training, PE teaching, fitness coaching and things like that. Now, however, we place a greater emphasis on the scientific side of sport and have therefore opened up a lot of new opportunities. Students still have those traditional paths, but the introduction of elements such as Sport and Exercise Science, physiotherapy, radiography and nutrition sciences, mean that Sport and Exercise Science is now a fantastic course for anybody who has an interest in sport, but isn’t completely sure what they want to do yet.’  

Sports education now covers everything that goes on behind the scenes in sport, such as Sport and exercise psychology and health science, and with these changes comes the need for new and improved facilities. Chris believes the new Erne Campus will give South West College a significant advantage in this regard.

‘The fact that we are going to have such state of the art facilities is going to have a massive impact on students learning. We’ll have a fully functioning fitness suite, our own dedicated strength and conditioning space,  fitness testing facilities, along with access to internal and external resources. It’s going to be one of the top learning facilities in the country. Having the right facilities is more important than ever. Students need to see that we’re putting in the effort to provide them with the best learning experience we can. Students nowadays are so used to having the latest technology at their fingertips, so it only makes sense that this is how they’ll learn best too, through modern technology. With our new facilities we’ll have state of the art performance analysis and video capture equipment using Veo cameras and Polar Team Pro, touchscreens, iPads, Wattbikes,  and whatever new technology we need at our disposal and that will benefit our students so much. It’s the future. It’s how people want to learn and it’s how we are going to help them learn.’  

‘We’ve worked really closely in the last year or eighteen months with the developers and the designers, telling them what we would like. We’re lucky that we’ve been able to collaborate on this. We’ve looked at the types of floors that we want, the rooms we want; what we need in the rooms and where we need it. So we’ve been really lucky in that regard and I think the input we’ve had is really going to benefit everything we do.’

SPRUCE UP and Declutter for Housekeeping Day at Fairview Campus

We are delighted to be welcoming our successful “Housekeeping Day” back to Fairview Campus as part of ongoing preparation for our impending move. The next scheduled House Keeping day is on the 18th November and we advise all staff to embrace it positively.

To some people, housekeeping brings to mind cleaning, hoovering or mopping, but within a work environment it means so much more. Housekeeping is managing your space and making your space work for you. Decluttering your work area is crucial to a clean, productive workspace. 

As decluttering takes place, we are embracing the new motto of ‘RINSE – REPEAT – RELISH’. Decluttering is not a one-time practice, and we have scheduled monthly housekeeping days for the year ahead of relocation. This will allow plenty of time to reflect and focus on clearing your desks and space efficiently.

So, if you’re feeling positive and are keen to know where to start, follow these handy guidelines to ensure you make the most of our upcoming housekeeping day.


In order to best clear out your working area, foster a positive mindset and ask yourself ‘Do I need this?’ If the answer is no, then think about how you can best dispose of it. In particular, clear the contents of filing cabinets, drawers and other freestanding items of furniture which can then be sold or disposed; consider textbooks, lever arch files and any other materials or items you consider unnecessary; return or dispose of stationary no longer required or fit for purpose; and Identify chairs, tables and desks no longer in use so Estates staff can note of any surplus furniture.

Avail of the Large boxes available from Estates at an allocation of one box per person. Additional boxes will be assigned to service areas on discussion with Estates. Skips will also be on-site for disposing of your items efficiently and Further guidance on what can be put into skips will be provided by Estates. If you need assistance when disposing of your items in the skip, the caretaking team will be available to give a helping hand.

Some items may require archiving and we encourage all staff to familiarise themselves with the archiving procedure before commencing. Please consider that some confidential material could be scanned or stored digitally which will help aid transfer to the new building. The Archiving Procedure will be available on Gateway to help ensure all staff dispose of confidential material in line with College Policy. Our Administration and Virtual teams will be available throughout the day for assistance.

Staff should follow standard protocols for confidential waste, rubbish removal and general housekeeping to ensure you are disposing of your items correctly, and we advise that you refer to our College Policies’ on Gateway to seek guidance on standard protocols before disposing of any items. 

Confidential waste bags are available in room MGO4. A tag will be issued to be attached to the bag when full, this can be collected through the Estates Helpdesk. Please ensure only confidential waste is placed within the bag as the College is charged per bag for disposal, and for manual handling purposes, please ensure these are only filled three quarters full.

Please note that staff who need to teach on the day will be excluded from the process. Please contact Estates to make alternative arrangements if you have items you would like to dispose of.  Hopefully this has answered all your questions and you now feel ready to take the plunge and get decluttering. Now more than ever decluttering has become essential and will become an ongoing process within the college. As we eagerly look forward to the future and the exciting move to the new Erne Campus.

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