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Council extends Green Deal retrofit work

Birmingham City Council is to include non-domestic public buildings in its Green Deal scheme, which is set to spend £1.2 billion on retrofitting buildings over eight years.

The authority had expected to publish an OJEU tender notice for a lead partner or contractors to manage the programme before the end of July, but has postponed it until next week to allow further consultation with construction firms and financiers.

Birmingham Energy Savers programme manager David Allport said the inclusion of non‑domestic public buildings both increases the programme’s value and reduces the risk, as the sites are within council control.

“We took legal advice on whether our procurement could be used by other authorities and landlords, so we went out to all the public authorities in the West Midlands and the larger housing associations, and we’ve had an incredible response from them,” he said.

“We thought it was worth waiting from July until now to open up that possibility, because it clearly makes it one of the most attractive procurements in the refurb market for some time to come. The offer now on the table to the prospective suppliers is far more attractive.”

In the original plan in April, the council said it would invest £100 million in the Green Deal work through council borrowing and investment from energy companies’ obligation.

It said this could then be extended to £400m should the lead partner find finance. With the new approach, he expects spending to be more than a £1bn by 2020.

The Green Deal is set to launch next autumn and will allow people to invest in improving the efficiency of their homes at no upfront cost by borrowing against the cost of future energy bills.

The savings on bills from the improvements made have to cover the cost of repaying the loan.

Mr Allport said council investment was necessary to kickstart the programme. “The big financiers do not want to take the first loss of this. There is a risk of market failure, which is why we see the role for us coming in.”