• Country: United Kingdom
  • Population: 1,013,400
  • Member of Covenant of Mayors?: Yes
  • Politician Who Signed: Paul Tisley, City Councillor
  • Website:

City Introduction

The City of Birmingham is the second biggest city in the UK and economic hub of theWest Midlands region in central England. It is a national rail, road and air transport hub with the planned HS2 (high speed rail) link to be developed over the next 10-15 years. Its population is characterised by its youth and cultural diversity with nearly a third of its population being from an ethnic minority, indicative of Birmingham’s long history of welcoming migrants. Birmingham was a driving force during the industrial revolution and was known as the city of ‘a thousand trades’.

Since the manufacturing decline in the 1970/1980’s Birmingham has reshaped its economy. Whilst still having a considerable manufacturing base, the city now boasts a rapidly expanding financial and service sector, has become a fast-growing centre for hi-tech industry, and is one of Europe’s foremost conference and event destinations. Going forward key priorities for the city include the regeneration of the city centre, where 800 hectares are turned into business, retail and learning spaces under the Big City Plan and the creation of a sustainable and low carbon economy.

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Related Initiatives

Create new partnerships

Birmingham has two partnerships, the Birmingham Environmental Partnership and the Digital Birmingham Partnership, which bring together stakeholder from industry, the public and third sector across the city to progress the green and digital agendas. They work jointly to progress the green digital agenda and cooperate on specific projects in particular regarding the concept of district energy linking to exploration of smart grids and green open data.

Develop cities as platforms for innovation and support open innovation

Birmingham is improving the city infrastructure through procuring a city wide next generation wireless network. It is developing the Digital Districts project to implement ultra-fast fibre broadband in the Enterprise Zone to benefit technology and digital media enterprises. Birmingham is a member of the European Network of Living Labs member since 2009. It is using Living Lab methodology in projects to encourage innovation and offers its infrastructure as a testbed to businesses. Most recently it is offering a trial for a waste management solution the under Living Labs Global programme. We have started to develop our case for procurement of innovation / pre-commercial procurement and are seeking funds to pilot procurement of innovative solutions for environmental behaviour change.

Promote integrated approaches and large-scale solutions

Birmingham Energy Savers is a large scale domestic retrofit programme that plans to reach 60,000 homes by 2018 and aims to reach 200,000 properties by 2026. Social housing tenants and eligible home owners are offered free energy efficiency installations like cavity wall and loft insulation and energy saving advice. This is combined with an offer to install photovoltaic roof panels using a financing model based on Feed-in-Tariffs under the Governments Green Deal. This is linked with the AIM HIGH project, which will field test and evaluate the effectiveness of digital technologies for energy saving such as domestic smart meters, heating controls etc in a testbed of 348 homes. Birmingham Energy Savers is working with Housing Associations in the city to provide energy saving advice to tenants through a Green Doctor programme and develop Eco-Villages following the successful Edgbaston model, where the DEHEMS smart metering testbed raised householders awareness on their electricity consumption. Watch the video about the residents involved. The Council is also working together with Housing Associations to give tenants energy advice and metering information through a digital home log book via interactive digital television and the web to 2500 homes. Birmingham City Council is working with Amey, the street services PFI partner, to upgrade 45,000 street lights to energy efficient LED lighting with remote monitoring and dimming systems until 2015.

Demonstrate that cities can lead by practical example

Since 2006 the Council has embarked on a 10-year major Business Transformation Programme. One of the workstreams, “Working for the Future – WFTF” is responsible upgrading our offices. The property portfolio is being consolidated from over 50 offices where 9,100 staff will be using 5 central administration buildings.  These new and fully refurbished buildings are fitted with state of the art building and energy management systems that include solutions such as motion sensors to allow automatic switch off for room lighting. We are currently addressing our historic buildings, which have less efficient legacy systems in place through the European SMART SPACES project. At the same time the sustainable printing policy, which has introduced networked multifunctional devices (print/copy/scan/fax) to replace individual devices is saving carbon and cash. The agile working policy encourages staff to work flexibly from home, off-site or from hot desk locations thus reducing the need to travel.