BLOG: A sustainable future for Manchester

Joanne Thetford, UKGBC's Local Network Coordinator for Greater Manchester, outlines the challenges and opportunities presented in creating a sustainable built environment for Greater Manchester.

Published on

September 4, 2018

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As a proud local I am delighted to be appointed as the Local Network Coordinator for Greater Manchester. I have seen Manchester evolve dramatically over the last two decades into the thriving European city that it is today and I am pleased to be involved in the current boom in development.

I have worked on building certifications such as BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes for over 11 years and also currently undertake Part L calculations for homes and sustainability reporting for planning applications regularly in my role as a Sustainability Consultant at Hilson Moran. More recently I have been working as a WELL Building assessor, and I believe we are beginning to see a shift in buildings that not only perform well environmentally, but also facilitate health and wellbeing for the people that occupy them. My role at Hilson Moran allows me to get involved in a variety of projects – both refurbishment and new build, commercial and domestic. The Local Network Coordinator role is a brilliant opportunity to utilise my working knowledge to help to develop the strategic approach of the UKGBC in the local area.

The Greater Manchester region contributes to the wider economy of the UK and to ground-breaking research in science. Manchester can boast pioneering life science research at The Christie and University of Manchester, perhaps most famously being the birth place of graphene. The coming years will see the development of the HS2 rail which will further connect Manchester to the rest of the UK and will help to progress the Northern Powerhouse vision, which will see investment in education, innovation and transport in northern cities.

With so much happening in the region at the moment there’s massive potential to make a difference and help shape policy in Manchester to achieve sustainability goals. The city’s climate change plan aims to reduce carbon emissions by 41% by 2020 (from 2005 levels) and to embed low carbon thinking into future operations, with a bold target of becoming one of the first carbon neutral cities in the world by 2050. If we are to make significant strides towards this target we need to start asking more of our developers, to fully explore innovative design solutions and construct high performing buildings.

The rapidly expanding population, congestion and demand for housing are big issues for the entire region. Andy Burnham is keen to make Greater Manchester a better place to live and work with a holistic approach to transport in ‘A Greater Manchester Congestion Deal’, which aims to improve air pollution and increase investment in cycling networks and public transport. We need to satisfy the need for housing and development, but do it in a way that embodies the sustainability goals of the city and which future proofs our buildings from climate change.

Manchester’s skyline is set to transform over the next decade with several tall buildings already under construction, and even more in the pipeline. In addition to this, The Northern Gateway regeneration project to the north east of the city centre aims to provide new housing, the development of new communities, a transport hub and the creation of The City River Park providing much needed green leisure space and ecological enhancement of the River Irk. The masterplan is set to unfold over the next 15 years and will transform a huge area to the north of the city.

It’s certainly an exciting time ahead for Greater Manchester and I’m keen to hit the ground running with my role at UKGBC to help shape a sustainable future for Manchester.

Read more about UKGBC’s expanding work in Greater Manchester, and about our Local Networks.

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