West Midlands project to create net zero neighbourhoods


West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) announces project to create net zero neighbourhoods of the future, in partnership with Arup

West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Energy Capital have launched The Net Zero Neighbourhood (NZN) pilot during the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

It is in response to research highlighting that the region needs to retrofit more than 294,000 homes by 2026 to meet its net zero 2041 target.

With funding of more than £2m from WMCA, homes will undergo ‘deep retrofit’ using cutting-edge insulation with options for solar panels and low carbon heating systems.

Net zero transport

Other measures introduced could include LED street lighting, new pocket parks, playgrounds, communal food growing initiatives, green roofs and sustainable drainage systems, as well as electric bus services, electric vehicle street charging, car clubs and better walking and cycling routes.

Arup is the first partner to join the scheme and will work alongside the Mayor, WMCA, City of Wolverhampton Council, local businesses and the University of Wolverhampton.

Reducing carbon emissions

Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Retrofitting old and poorly insulated homes is absolutely critical to tackling the climate emergency here in the West Midlands, but that work alone does not go far enough to reduce emissions – nor does it properly regenerate our communities to become clean and green.

“That is why we have launched this pioneering net zero neighbourhoods approach, where a host of other green living improvements can be made to a local area alongside the retrofitting. From LED street lighting to pocket parks, community farming initiatives to electric vehicle-charging, all these measures will help regenerate our region’s neighbourhoods whilst reducing carbon emissions.

“Crucially, we’re bringing our first major private sector partner along with us. Working alongside Arup, we can fight climate change whilst also creating those well paid, higher value jobs of the future, supporting other West Midlands companies developing the low carbon technologies and products needed for this work.”

Sustainable construction

Jerome Frost, chair at Arup, UK, India, Middle East and Africa, said: “We know that 80% of the global building stock in 2050 has already been built.

“That’s why projects that retrofit at scale will decarbonise cities to deliver sustainable futures, whilst also creating local jobs and neighbourhoods for communities to be proud of.

“Arup is excited to be working with the Mayor, WMCA, City of Wolverhampton Council, local businesses and the University of Wolverhampton to continue their work as a national centre for sustainable construction.”

Cllr Steve Evans, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for city environment and climate change, added: “We’re pleased to be supporting this pilot scheme which builds upon our city’s growing reputation as a centre for sustainable construction and as a climate change champion.

“This pilot will be backed by a council committed to be net carbon neutral by 2028 – one of the most challenging targets in the region – and the first English city to sign the European Circular Cities Declaration.

“We are also home to over 2,000 small and medium sized enterprises in the green energy, retrofit and green construction sectors and today’s welcome announcement by the WMCA could bring much-needed jobs and opportunities to these businesses.”


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