South West College (SWC) has launched Erne Academy on the site of its new campus in Enniskillen describing it as a "unique learning opportunity for students".

SWC Chief Executive Michael McAlister said the college "will be a flagship for sustainable construction across these islands and beyond".

The Erne Academy will enable students to study in a ‘living learning laboratory’ created by the new campus environment, which will be the first educational building worldwide to achieve the highest international standard in environmental construction – PassivHaus Premium and BREEAM excellent, ranking it alongside prestigious buildings such as the Apple Campus 2 in terms of sustainable innovation and design.

South West College and Tracey Brothers have identified the One Planet Living Principles as a set of measures on which to develop the Learning from the Erne Academy; these principles were applied to support and deliver the bid to host the London 2012 Olympics.

"Therefore, through the Erne Academy, students, researchers and teaching academics will be able to identify industry best practice in relation to the use of technology and innovation to support sustainable living in the region.

"Areas such as, energy, environmental impact, water usage, and sustainable construction techniques will be examined in relation to design and building applications for domestic and commercial buildings in the future. A team of undergraduate and PHD researchers working and studying at South West College will lead on these developments, in conjunction with industry and innovation partners," he said.

John Tracey, Managing Director, Tracey Brothers Limited, explained the academy will be an "innovative knowledge transfer tool".

"We envisage this wider learning experience will provide mutual long-term benefits to both the academic and construction communities in technology, innovation and sustainability.

"The SWC Erne Campus project is pushing the boundaries of technology in almost every aspect, with technologies that are completely new, handcrafted for this project. Any time you take on a complex project that uses something other than a standard design and construction approach, it is challenging as they are first-offs. We accept these challenging projects to keep us at the cutting edge of innovation and leaders within our industry, and we are delighted with this opportunity to share our experience with the Erne Academy," he said.

Construction of the 8,200 m2 building is scheduled for completion in August 2020 and has provided employment for over 200 people, including a number of apprenticeship opportunities representing a major economic boost for the South West region. The addition of this new Erne Academy will provide a legacy project to enhance educational and economic development regionally, nationally and internationally.