The Council and democracy Climate Change Action Plan - Annual Report 2020-21

Progress report - Workstream #1 Buildings and energy

Action 1.1 Carbon Reduction in Council Estate

The Estates Carbon Reduction Programme is a large-scale programme of energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy installations. Phase 1 of the programme covers eleven buildings within the Council’s estate and was due to be completed by March 2021; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of delays (including one building being converted into a vaccination centre) and so the work will now complete in 2021-22.

A £6.3m capital investment will lead to £700k savings each year via reduced operating costs (9-year payback period) 2.5MW of renewable energy generating capacity has been installed; 9,000 LED light fittings and 1,300 tonnes of CO2 savings pa.

Annual carbon savings across the Council's estate
Building Annual savings (tCO2)
Wythenshawe Forum 297
Town Hall Extension 169
East Manchester Leisure Centre


The Sharp Project 295
Space Project 112
Hough End Leisure Centre 74
Arcadia Sports Centre 59
Moss Side Leisure Centre 23
North City Family and Fitness Centre 50
Belle Vue Sport Centre 123
Manchester Tennis and Football Centre 23
Total 1326

Following energy audits, a range of different measures are being installed across these buildings, including LED light fittings, building management systems, pipework insulation and a pool cover. Nine buildings are being equipped with renewable energy generation capacity installed via solar photovoltaics (PV) on their roofs. To date, measures implemented are saving 896 tonnes of CO2 per year and, once complete, will save over 1,300 tonnes of CO2.

Improvement measure savings: the tonnes of CO2 savings each type of installation, or being installed, across the Council’s estate is targeted to generate each year.

  • Solar PV: 513
  • LED lighting: 425
  • Lighting controls: 20
  • BMS upgrade: 68
  • Variable speed drives: 205
  • Pipework insulation: 1
  • Boiler upgrade: 12
  • Transformer tap down: 4
  • Combined heat and power: 47
  • Heating controls: 9
  • Pool cover: 22

In March 2021, we secured £19.1m of Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) funding, as part of a Greater Manchester consortium bid, to support additional work to the estate. Focused on decarbonising heat, the funding supports additional energy efficiency and renewable energy installations in 12 Council buildings, including the Aquatics Centre. 
The work will complete by March 2022 and is targeting to save 1,800 tonnes of CO2. 

A further 415 tonnes of CO2 annual savings will be generated as part of a £5m European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project, Unlocking Clean Energy in Greater Manchester. This is funding solar PV on roofs, solar car ports and battery storage at the National Cycling Centre (in 2021-22) and Hammerstone Road depot (in 2022-23). The works are part of a wider project which includes the Energy Systems Catapult developing innovative business models to support the rollout of renewable energy in the future. 

At Gorton Library, we are piloting a novel heating and hot water technology with HydroZero - a UK company. Traditional approaches to reducing or removing gas can be costly, requiring significant changes to a building’s fabric and heat distribution system. The pilot uses hydrogen and plasma to produce heat via an electrochemical reaction and has significant potential to provide a viable alternative to gas. A full years’ worth of data will allow for monitoring of cost and carbon savings.

In the Old Town Hall, a 40% energy reduction, and up to 25% carbon saving (against 2009 usage), is being delivered as part of the major refurbishment programme. Re-occupation is due in 2024. The measures include:

  • Insulating the roof and all heating pipework
  • Removing and repairing windows to reduce air leakage
  • Connecting to the CQHN and replacing the heating system 
  • Using natural ventilation to reduce cooling requirements
  • Fitting LEDs throughout including heritage luminaires and external lighting 
  • Installing a new building management system with zone controls

Work continues seeking additional funding to support increased activity.

Action 1.2 Manchester Low Carbon Build Standard

To reduce the carbon impact of new-build developments and retrofit projects delivered by the Council, a Manchester Low Carbon Build Standard has been developed. It is aligned to best practice guidance from the Building Research Establishment and the Royal Institute of British Architects and was endorsed by the Manchester Climate Change Partnership in December 2020. The new standard has been rolled out across our Capital Programmes and metrics have been agreed for inclusion in future capital business cases from 2021. A process is being developed to ensure it stays current along with a programme of training for internal staff. The standard has been shared with external partners interested in driving forward sustainable construction including the North West Construction Hub Board and the National Association of Construction Frameworks. 

Action 1.3 Building and Energy Strategy

The Building and Energy Strategy sets out the Council’s approach to reducing carbon emissions across the operational estate, including the procurement of green energy, the generation of renewable energy, and infrastructure to support the wider take-up of electric vehicles. It informs the ongoing retrofit of our estate to reduce carbon emissions. This action is being combined with the outcomes for Action 1.4.

Action 1.4 Large Scale Renewable Energy Generation 

A feasibility study on the potential for large-scale renewable energy generation schemes, including solar PV, onshore or offshore wind to support our transition to zero carbon, was delivered. The objective of the study was to identify options to save 7,000 tonnes of CO2 per year by 2025. The study assesses options to deploy renewables at scale on Council buildings and land, on assets owned by third parties and via different business models. The key findings set out two main options: invest directly in a large-scale solar generation scheme or enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with an energy provider to purchase the energy directly from such a scheme. The financial risk and carbon impacts of each option are being considered in detail and will be shared with the Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee and Executive in 2021-22.

Action 1.5 LED Streetlights   

In September 2020 a three-year programme to retrofit Manchester’s streetlights with LEDs was completed. 56,000 lamps were replaced (2,250 in the city centre, 13,100 on traffic routes and 40,800 in residential areas), 70% less energy consumed and 5,000 tonnes of CO2 saved.

Action 1.6 Civic Quarter Heat Network 

The Civic Quarter Heat Network will initially serve seven city centre buildings with the potential to connect more in the future. The £24m project includes a 3.3MW Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit which will initially run on gas, a proportion of which will be ‘green gas’ with the potential to introduce hydrogen into the mix in future to further reduce carbon emissions. 2km of district heating transmission network has been installed (pipes, power and communication cables). The network has an expected operational life in excess of 50 years. The Tower of Light is complete and in-building final connections for heat and power were carried out in February and March 2021. There have been some delays due to COVID-19, including the use of the Manchester Convention Centre as the Nightingale Centre. Commissioning of the energy centre (the centralised boiler plant) is in progress and energy generation will start in February 2022. 

Image shows the Civic Quarter Heat Network tower against a blue sky

The elegant tower of the Civic Quarter Heat Network

 Action 1.7 Housing Stock Condition Survey 

Using the Northwards Housing Zero Carbon Study Report, published by Savills, an estimate has been calculated for the average cost of low carbon retrofits to social housing (£25,600 per dwelling). These figures were extrapolated to estimate the cost of retrofitting owner-occupier and private-rented sector housing; this figure is estimated between £16,000 and £39,000 per dwelling. Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) also carried out a detailed study of housing stock condition across Greater Manchester. Both these findings will be incorporated into future planning. 

Action 1.8 Energy Efficient Housing  

The Social Housing Demonstrator Fund and One Manchester will provide £7.8m to retrofit in the region of 156 hard-to-treat concrete construction homes at Grey Mare Lane, Beswick. 96 dwellings in the social-rented sector are scheduled for a full retrofit and around 60 private dwellings will receive a partial retrofit to deliver consistent "kerb appeal". The indications for a 2-bed end terrace are an increase in the EPC rating from E to C and a reduction in energy costs from £1,529 to £838. We are developing 2 new-build schemes: 77 dwellings at Russell Road (the site of Spire Hospital) in Whalley Range will be BREEAM ‘very good’ as a minimum, and 68 dwellings at Silk Street in Newton Heath will include measures such as ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps, green roofs, green walls and electrical vehicle charging. 

£500k funding was secured from the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme Phase 1a. with ambition to use the grant to improve 42 dwellings with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of D or below. Due to significant challenges in delivery, e.g. securing contractors, engaging owner-occupiers willing to consider new technologies and gaining access to homes during a pandemic, and national government not allowing an extension to provide more time to resolve these challenges, the programme has been closed and the £500k funding returned. 

Action 1.9 Energy Efficiency in Commercial and Non-Domestic Buildings 

One of the ways in which the Council is using its direct influence to support external partner organisations is by ensuring that the benefits of transitioning to zero carbon are clearly outlined in the provision of loan funding and the commissioning of services. For example, we supported the Learning, Training, Employment (LTE) Group and Manchester College with a loan towards the delivery of their carbon reduction estate strategies. Several design features have been implemented to reduce carbon emissions including the application of BREEAM standards to achieve an ‘Excellent’ rating, an EPC rating of A and the reduction of operational costs through sustainable design. 

Similarly, where senior Council leaders have roles as directors on various boards and partnerships, influence is used to ensure that investment decisions and development of strategies are aligned to the Council’s Climate Change Action Plan and the Manchester Climate Change Framework.

Action 1.10 A Local Energy Plan for Manchester

The Greater Manchester Local Energy Plan project is a 2-year project designed to develop Local Area Energy Master Plans identifying potential locations for energy assets and to support energy innovation. A £6m Innovate UK grant was secured by GMCA and includes specialist expertise from the Energy Systems Catapult. Manchester City Council is one of 11 partners and a draft plan for Manchester is expected before the end of 2021.

Action 1.11 Leasing or Disposing of Council Land and Buildings

Our Development Team is creating a way to assess the carbon impact of land and asset disposal. It is looking at the impact of asset disposal on a wide range of related issues, e.g. capital receipts, achieving best value, links to the delivery of other policies, and the impact on procurement and state aid. It will look at thresholds for transactions, the skills and resource needed and ways to measure impact.  

Action 1.12 A New Manchester Local Plan  

Consultations on key issues in the new Local Plan for Manchester took place during 2020 and included the target to achieve a zero carbon Manchester by 2038. Feedback from individuals, businesses and other organisations confirmed zero carbon is an important issue. The next stage will be to develop a draft and include key policy options with a preferred policy approach. The current Core Strategy (Manchester's adopted Local Plan) includes a suite of policies (EN4 to EN8) that guide development towards zero carbon. The task is to consider where these policies need to be revised in the light of new evidence and understanding of the pace of change needed to meet the CCAP targets:

  • Policy EN4 - Reducing CO2 Emissions by Enabling Low and Zero Carbon Development 
  • Policy EN5 - Strategic Areas for low and zero carbon decentralised energy infrastructure 
  • Policy EN6 - Target Framework for CO2 reductions from low or zero carbon energy supplies  
  • Policy EN7 - Energy Infrastructure opportunities 
  • Policy EN8 - Adaptation to Climate Change 

Action 1.13 Partnership Work with Experts on Buildings

Numerous actions have been taking place to develop partnership working with local and national experts. In October 2020, a ‘partnership mapping’ exercise took place within the Council’s City Policy and Corporate Estates teams. We continue to contribute to, and draw expertise from, the North West Construction Hub, the National Association of Construction Frameworks and the Cambridge Centre for Smart Innovation and Construction, along with Highways England and the Environment Agency. 
Capital Programmes are working with Wilmot Dixon to identify key performance indicators to be used by all framework contractors as part of a national trial. The Manchester Low Carbon Build Standard has been shared with the Core Cities Low Carbon group and further discussions are planned to support development of a Greater Manchester Low Carbon Standard for buildings.

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