Green upgrades for Greater Manchester public buildings through £78m decarbonisation fund

May 18, 2021 | Retrofitting

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Photo credit: David Dixon, Geograph

Greater Manchester has been awarded over £78m in Government funding to support energy efficiency upgrades to more than 150 public buildings across the city-region, helping to cut carbon emissions and create new jobs.

The funding award was the result of a successful bid from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and 14 other partners to the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

Buildings and organisations across the public estate set to benefit from retrofitting include; Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Greater Manchester Police, the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), the National Cycling Centre, and other facilities including leisure centres, schools and offices.

Retrofitting outdated buildings

Carbon emission heavy systems will be replaced, including the installation of air-source heat pumps for heating, solar panels, insulation and LED lighting to improve energy efficiency, and energy monitoring and control systems to ensure the public facilities can measure their energy use accurately.  

Creating green jobs

The works are expected to support the creation or safeguard of around 2,000 jobs throughout the city-region, supporting the goals of Greater Manchester’s Five Year Environment Plan, which includes a pledge to become carbon neutral by 2038 – 12 years ahead of the UK national target.

Cllr Andrew Western, GMCA Lead for the Green City-Region, said:

“Tackling the climate emergency requires bold and meaningful change at every level, and from all of us. Greater Manchester’s Five Year Environment Plan set a target of becoming a carbon neutral city-region by 2038, and to meet our goals it is essential that the public sector leads the way and demonstrates what can be achieved. This grant funding will help to reduce carbon emissions from more than 150 public buildings in the city-region.


“Investment in decarbonisation schemes like retrofitting and low-carbon energy is going to be crucial in powering a green recovery from the pandemic. We estimate that this funding, the largest award in England, will support the creation or safeguarding of more than 2,000 jobs here in Greater Manchester, fostering the skills that we need to keep cutting emissions and create a more sustainable future.”

The upgrades taking place across the public estate will complement the retrofitting of domestic properties carried out through the GMCA-managed Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme, which was recently extended until September. Households with incomes of less than £30,000 can apply for grants worth up to £10,000 towards energy efficiency improvements, helping to save on energy bills and cut emissions.

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme was launched in October 2020 and offered local authorities grants of up to 100% of the cost of upgrading public buildings, with the aim that worked will be carried out and decarbonisation measures in effect by the end of September.

Insider’s View

£78m is a significant wedge of funding to carry out important retrofitting in many of the public buildings across Greater Manchester.

Those benefiting include iconic centres of sporting and cultural significance such as RNCM, and The National Cycling Centre; as well as important public buildings used by the NHS and Fire Service, which are essential hubs for protecting and providing care for citizens.

Retrofitting is one of the major keystones to Greater Manchester’s ambitions to become net carbon zero by 2038 and offers a far more cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution to simply demolishing buildings and starting again.

Future-proofing buildings so that they can generate their own electricity and improve carbon emissions through upgrades to heating systems, solar panels and energy efficiency, will ensure that they stand the test of time and can continue to serve the public for many years. 

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