International delegates from 20 countries were welcomed to Fermanagh recently as South West College (SWC) hosted the inaugural ‘Building a Sustainable Future’ conference and climate resilience lecture.

The conference, hosted in association with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and supported by Encirc, took place alongside a programme of workshops, meetings and seminars delivered by the International Passive House Association, which represents a network of 27 global affiliate organisations who are passionate about improving sustainability in the design and construction industry, with ‘Passive House’ now recognised as the fastest-growing standard in that sector.

Some 30 acclaimed industry speakers presented during the conference, covering not only design and construction, but also public and private transportation and sustainability strategy development.

The ‘Building a Sustainable Future’ conference and IPHA Camp was the first official event attended by SWC’s new Chief Executive and principal, Celine McCartan, who recently commenced in post.

Celine gave a welcome address to local and international delegates at the Climate Resilience Lecture.

Speaking about the week’s events she said: “This is a great way for me to return to the ccollege and start in post. South West College has, for many years, been recognised as a leader in sustainability for the further and higher education sector across Northern Ireland.

“The ‘Building a Sustainable Future’ conference was an excellent opportunity to showcase the college’s work and commitment to sustainable construction, transport and industry engagement, while also providing a platform to offer local and international visitors the chance to experience the wonderful Erne Campus and the college’s CREST Centre – both Passive House-rated buildings, in Enniskillen.”

Celine continued by thanking staff from South SWC, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and the Passive House Institute for their work over the past few months in the development of the conference programme, and in ensuring that every aspect of the week was carefully choreographed and managed.

A vital role

The Council played a vital role in the delivery of the conference and hosted a civic welcome reception for international guests at Enniskillen Castle, in addition to a gala dinner for conference delegates at the Killyhevlin Hotel.

The Chair of the Council, Councillor Barry McElduff, said: “This conference was a cutting-edge one for sure.

“I am proud that Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and South West College worked seamlessly together on this major event.

“The Erne Campus’ accreditation as the world’s largest Passive House Premium-rated building is something that gives our district great distinction.”

Fiacre O’Donnell, Sustainability Director for the Vidrala Group (Encirc), principal corporate partner, spoke on the company’s support for the conference, saying: “As the 2022 winner of the NI Responsible Company of the Year, we take our obligations in this space very seriously.

“We challenge ourselves to showcase sustainability and to drive action at every opportunity – this conference provided the perfect environment for us to do that.

“Not only did this conference allow us to celebrate the standards the SWC building has achieved, but it allowed us to share with and seek input from the SWC students, the next generation of the workforce.

“The conference opened up conversations around what industry is doing and allowed us at Encirc and many other industries to demonstrate what’s possible in protecting our world.

“With a global audience in attendance, Fermanagh shone under a very positive spotlight.”

Thanks to the support from a range of corporate partners and sponsors, a number of college students and staff as well as elected representatives and staff from the Council were invited to attend the conference, offering them the opportunity to build new relationships with international industry representatives and conference speakers.

A number of exchange programme students studying architecture at Humber College in Toronto were also in attendance, and spent six days visiting Enniskillen and exploring the wider Fermanagh area.

This visit followed on from educational trip by SWC students to Toronto earlier this year.


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