Up to 2,000 old and cold homes across the West Midlands are to get energy saving insulation, low carbon heating systems and other fuel reducing technology after the region secured more than £19 million of government funding. The money, which follows a successful bid co-ordinated by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) into the government’s Sustainable Warmth Competition, comes as the region seeks to ramp up action to tackle climate change, reduce fuel poverty and support its #WM2041 ambition to be net zero within the next 20 years. The funding also follows an announcement by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, at last month’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in which he revealed a pioneering project to create the low carbon neighbourhoods of the future. Nearly £3 million of the Sustainable Warmth funding will go direct to the WMCA, offering an opportunity to secure additional money for the new Net Zero Neighbourhoods programme announced by the Mayor at the international summit. The WMCA has already put £2 million into the pilot programme. The rest of the funding will go to the region’s seven metropolitan councils and will be used predominantly to retrofit homes owned by low income families, although some social housing may also be included. Homes chosen by the councils will undergo a range of retrofit measures designed to slash energy consumption, fuel costs and carbon emissions. Work will be designed following an assessment of each home to make sure the most effective action is undertaken. Measures could include external cladding of the property – to make sure no more heat is lost – and the installation of new energy sources such as solar panels and ground or air-source pumps. The success of the bid builds on a previous collaboration between the WMCA and local authorities which has already secured £35 million for the retrofit of homes across the West Midlands. The WMCA’s Net Zero Neighbourhoods project announced by the Mayor at COP26 involves retrofitting homes with insulation and green heating on a wider, street-by-street basis alongside other low carbon infrastructure such as on-street electric vehicle charging points. The project’s collaboration between the public and private sectors is also seen as a pioneering approach to retrofit investment. The Mayor announced at COP26 that global built environment consultancy Arup would become the programme’s first private sector partner, working on a Net Zero Neighbourhood in Wolverhampton. Click here for more information.
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