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Training professionals and craftsmen on energy-efficient traditional building skills for the heritage sector

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Photo by Rodolfo Quirós from Pexels

PRO-Heritage, a project carried out with Horizon 2020 funding support, is protecting traditional craftsmen skills that have an impact on the support of energy-efficient heritage buildings. We talked with Gerald Wagenhofer, partner in the project, who explained a bit more how they are doing it and their challenges and achievements so far.

1) Could you describe the project and its objectives?

 

The PRO-Heritage project aims to offer continuous education to professionals and craftsmen working in cultural heritage. It provides traditional competencies and skills for built heritage, based on best practice examples gathered by partner organisations. Additionally, PRO-Heritage will support the exchange of competencies and expertise across Europe by establishing a structure for the mobility of these professionals in Europe. In other words, we are reawakening the tradition of mobile craftsmen, or journeymen.

 

The key needs we are addressing are:

 

  • The protection of traditional competencies and skills for building a Cultural Heritage relevant to energy efficiency and renewable energy;
  • The need to involve educated and trained professionals and craftsmen in “soft” conservation, maintenance and ongoing care;
  • The need to certify professionals and craftsmen to recognise their competences and skills.

We are truly convinced that achieving better energy performance in historic buildings is a win-win situation for everyone. Owners will have lower energy costs, residents will enjoy modern comfort at reasonable prices, and society will benefit from lower CO2 emissions and energy consumption.

 

2) What are the main challenges and achievements?

 

Procedure wise, Brexit has proved to be one of our main challenges. A British partner decided not to continue, and we had to find and integrate a new partner. This meant having to go through an amendment of the grant agreement and making sure everything goes smoothly.

 

Concerning the project itself, our main challenge is to find professionals with relevant skills and knowledge in traditional crafts, able to provide training and produce course videos.

 

Currently, we are identifying whether the professionals and craftsmen need any additional training to become trainers themselves. We are also looking at already available material in order to develop courses. All this means that we need to map the existing material and translate it into different EU languages.

 

Our main achievements at the end of the project will be to produce five training courses: Four content-related ones and a Train-The-Trainer one. From these videos, we aim at teaching participants the handling and requirements of traditional buildings, together with energy efficiency matters.

 

3) How do you think EU funding helped you develop your project?

 

That is an easy question: Without EU funding, our project would not exist!

 

4) What is in your opinion the golden tip for potential beneficiaries, the key to success to get funding?

 

I am still searching for the golden tip! However, an essential thing to keep in mind is: if you start your proposal by looking at available EU funding calls out there and developing a project around it, you are very likely to fail.

 

We first thought about our mission, needs and the kind of a project we wanted to carry out. Then, we looked for the appropriate funding to make it happen. This process makes our project proposals focus solely on what we do and what we need to fulfill our mission.

 

In other words, I think that the project, or at least the idea, should be already present before the call is out. Not the other way round.