Up to 60,000 residential and commercial buildings in Greater Manchester need retrofitting every year, for the city to reach its target of becoming zero carbon by 2038, the council heard.
Reducing emissions from buildings is a key plank of Manchester City Council’s draft five-year action plan on climate change from 2020-2025, detailed in a report this week and set to be considered by the executive in March.
The report by Manchester’s deputy chief executive and city treasurer Carol Culley cites an earlier meeting of the economy scrutiny committee in November, at which attendees discussed the green economy and plans to reduce emissions.
Simon Clouston, technical director of sustainability and energy at engineering firm WSP, told the meeting that buildings account for between 50-75% of Greater Manchester’s total carbon footprint.
While new buildings in the city need to be brought forward in a way that is zero carbon in operation, the real challenge for the city-region is to have a similar ambition for existing commercial and residential properties, he said.
This equates to retrofitting 60,000 properties a year across Greater Manchester for the next 20 years, Clouston said, according to the minutes of that meeting.
Such a task would require new regional and national policies to incentivise developers and investors to retrofit their portfolios, and to set a standard for the acceptable level of energy and carbon performance in retrofit projects.
Additional challenges include how to establish a return on investment for homeowners and residents; the potential high cost of implementing new technologies; and the sourcing of skills within the building trade to deliver the required quality of retrofit, the meeting heard.
It was suggested that the council work with businesses to develop a collective investment vehicle for this and similar carbon reduction projects across the city.
In July, Manchester City Council declared a “climate emergency”, meaning the city needs to do more to reduce its carbon emissions and tackle climate change.
Manchester aims to be zero carbon by 2038 under its five-year action plan, which will be examined in March alongside a revised Manchester Climate Change Framework. This means reducing carbon emissions by around 13% each year, in effect halving them over the next five years.
This target is 12 years earlier than the national 2050 target to be zero carbon, the council said.
One point of action in the emerging strategy is to investigate and introduce measures to retrofit existing homes.
Such work has already been commenced by groups including the Manchester Climate Change Partnership established in 2018.
MCCP’s members include developer Bruntwood, which installed the Tesla Powerpack Battery at the Bright Building at Manchester Science Park, and the Manchester Housing Providers Partnership, an association of social housing providers that together own 70,000 homes across the city.