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‘Live lab’ rooftop delivers skills opportunities to YMCA residents

THE ROOFTOP of a soon to be transformed former council building is to become a training and development test bed for the installation and maintenance of green roofs.

The move has been announced by developer First Base and investor Patron Capital as part of their plans for Saxon Court in Central Milton Keynes. They will work with Wolverton-based living roof specialists Bridgman & Bridgman, creative agency Pooleyville, YMCA Milton Keynes and Milton Keynes Council to highlight the biodiversity and carbon capture benefits of green roofs and the ability to grow food on rooftops.

As part of the project, YMCA Milton Keynes residents will be offered the opportunity to train and gain certifications in the installation and maintenance of green roofs, providing them with the skills to meet future employment opportunities. 

Due to the climate emergency and growing awareness of the benefits of green roofs, the industry is looking for new, skilled workers to manage increasing demand.

Concluding in April next year, the newly skilled green roof installers will be given the chance to reuse materials and features from the Saxon Court live lab and apply their new skills to create their own green roof on the new YMCA Milton Keynes building. 

First Base’s project director Steve Eccles said: “We are committed to delivering a sustainable development at Saxon Court, from embodied carbon savings through the retention of the original building, through to embracing zero emissions mobility, energy efficiency, renewable technologies and improving on-site biodiversity.” 

Steve Eccles

“We are therefore delighted that Saxon Court will be the test bed for a dynamic green roof which will offer immediate and substantial environmental benefits for Central Milton Keynes, as well as providing fantastic opportunities for YMCA residents to learn new skills, setting them up for sustainable employment in the future.”

The Saxon Court initiative aligns with ambitions of Milton Keynes becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon negative by 2050. First Base and Patron Capital have committed to deliver more than £300 million of social value over 20 years, including support for local employment, training and skills.

The development has also signed up to the Milton Keynes Cornerstone Employment scheme, with a focus on delivering employability support for local young people. 

Bridgman & Bridgman managing partner Chris Bridgman said: “We have worked across the UK on green roof and roof garden projects and we are delighted to be working locally with First Base to demonstrate the huge range of benefits living rooftops offer.”

Bridgman & Bridgman is a specialist in green roof creation.

“With such a fast-growing industry, we need to create and support green jobs and training opportunities to keep up with the growing demand for urban greening and green infrastructure.  

“Green roofs are a vital tool for climate action and for helping Milton Keynes become the greenest city in the world.”

The initiative is also part of Milton Keynes Council’s Green Business Recovery Fund. Cllr Jenny Wilson-Marklew, cabinet member for climate and sustainability, said: “We are committed to supporting new green and creative jobs as Milton Keynes looks to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“We are delighted to be able to launch this newest scheme with a MK-based firm leading in their industry, while also providing training and development opportunities for local young people.”

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