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Retrofitting task force sets ambitious target for Greater Manchester

A new taskforce set up by Mayor Andy Burnham will aim to ensure homes across the Greater Manchester city region become carbon neutral by 2038, some twelve years ahead of the national target.

Made up of experts from the building and energy industries, local and national government, social landlords, investors and colleges, the task force draws on the experience of some of those most knowledgeable in how to bring about the seismic change that will be needed.

According to estimates from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (the ten boroughs that make up the region), around 60,000 homes will need to be upgraded every year in order to achieve the net-zero goal.

At an inaugural meeting chaired by the Mayor in May, the ambitious target was outlined, together with an action plan looking at how such a wide-ranging programme can be implemented.

GMCA has identified heating as the biggest source of carbon emissions across the region, responsible for the cause of 2.8 megatons of C02 and other greenhouse gases every year. While a number of renewable heating systems are already on the market, it is recognised that the low-efficiency levels of many existing domestic and commercial properties make the cost of installation prohibitive for many residents.

Mayor Burnham is keen to highlight the opportunities that the project can bring. It is expected that a market worth between £3 – 5.4bn would be created by retrofitting just 20% of the 1.2 million homes across the region, bringing jobs and generating inward investment.

house with chimney smoke

In a statement on the GMCA website, he said: ‘This is a pivotal moment for tackling the climate crisis and supporting our towns and cities to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.’

‘Installing energy efficiency improvements not only makes buildings cheaper to run, but it will also unlock thousands of exactly the kind of new, good quality green jobs that we need and create better homes for our residents.’

Funding for grants of up to £10,000 to increase energy efficiency in low-income households has already been secured under the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme.

The GMCA task force hopes to build on this, as it moves towards supporting a sustainable recovery from the pandemic and tackling the deep-seated problems of providing sufficient housing for all.

Group chief executive at Salford-based social landlord ForHousing, Colette McKune was awarded an MBE for Services to the Community in 2015. As part of the task force, she will be one of the experts on hand to help drive the project through. She told NewStartMag: ‘The work to create net-zero homes will present challenges but will also provide great opportunities to create new jobs, improve people’s homes and health. Groups like the Retrofit Task Force have a key role to play in ensuring decarbonisation becomes part of housing’s DNA.’

Photo by Annie Spratt

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