The Science and Industry Museum has been awarded £4.3m by the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to transform the museum’s environmental sustainability and place zero carbon technology at the heart of the museum’s visitor experience.

The museum explores how ideas can change the world, from the industrial revolution to today and beyond, on a globally significant industrial heritage site. In the 1800s, a well was built (in the lower ground floor of the world’s first railway warehouse, the museum’s Grade I listed 1830 Warehouse) to harness the power of the ground water. This natural resource will now once again be utilised by the installation of a new water source heat pump network including bore holes along with the latest green technologies.

This is a visionary, sector-leading project where the original and modern combine for a sustainable museum of the future.

The funding will enable an annual reduction in CO2 emissions for the museum of 515 tonnes (equivalent to the average C02 emissions of over 30 UK homes per year) on completion of the works, improving every year as the electricity grid decarbonises through increased zero carbon generation. It will support the Science Museum Group’s goal to reach a net zero target of 2033 (announced today as 17 years ahead of the national target) and Greater Manchester’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2038 (12 years ahead of the national target).

£2.6 million will enable the Power Hall (currently undergoing urgent restoration thanks to £6million from the DCMS) to reduce C02 emissions by 60% by 2030 through enhanced roof insulation and glazing to improve energy efficiency, an electric boiler and water source heat pumps to heat the space and now power the historic engines sustainably, and a new building management system to monitor and control energy use of this iconic gallery.

The funding will place carbon literacy and zero carbon technology at the heart of the museum’s story and visitor experience. It will transform the Power Hall into a landmark symbol of the future, as well as of historic engineering.  As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester and the industrial heritage buildings of the museum (including the Power Hall) were the catalyst for scientific innovation and unprecedented change worldwide. Powered by fossil fuel, past industry has been a major cause of climate change, the most pressing challenge facing our planet. Now, the Power Hall will help prime future progress through inspiring future scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators in developing careers and skills to help achieve a green economy and the next (green) industrial revolution.

£1.7 million investment site-wide will pave the way for total electrification of the entire museum’s heating system, through additional an air source heat pump and a new electricity substation, enabling the museum to increase power to its seven-acre site sustainably (with 100% of electricity already purchased from renewable sources). Additional measures include LED lighting for the historic 1830 warehouse and instant hot water and a new building management system to monitor and control energy use of the New Warehouse which will enable a 65% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 of this key space which houses the main visitor welcome, Revolution Manchester, Textiles and Special Exhibitions galleries and the museum’s shops, café, bistro and conference centre.

Director Sally MacDonald said:

“The museum’s site represents where science met industry and the modern world began – what happened here changed the world, triggering a revolution in trade, technology, travel and time. We are delighted that this funding will enable us to continue to innovate as we create an environmentally sustainable museum for the future.” 

Edward Clark, Programme Manager at Salix Finance, said:

“We’re really pleased that the Science and Industry Museum has benefited from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. Installing multiple technologies, including air and water source heat pumps, roof insulation and glazing across several sites is a great step for the museum towards reaching their carbon management plans and net-zero target.”

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme was launched in September 2020 and offered grants of up to 100% of the cost of upgrading public buildings in 2021. The £4.3m funding for the Science and Industry Museum follows the £78m Government funding announced to support energy efficiency upgrades to more than 150 public buildings across the city-region in March.

Due to the short deadline, appointments to deliver the project have been made by Direct Award, with approval from the DCMS from existing design and main building contractors, previously secured through competitive tender including building contractors HH Smith and architects Carmody Groarke.


Work originally begun in 2019 to restore the globally important Grade II listed Power Hall, thanks to £6 million from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and additional funding from the Science Museum Group to facilitate urgent and major repairs to the roof and a redisplay of the gallery content to show how Manchester changed the world.

Built in 1855 as the shipping shed for Liverpool Road Station, the Power Hall is one of the most beloved industrial heritage galleries in the country. It houses Europe’s largest collection of working steam engines, the majority of which were built in Manchester.

Scaffolding and securing some elements of this historic structure was completed in January 2020. The roof has undergone a critical drying out period, while the museum worked on renewed sustainability plans to take every opportunity to de-carbonise the building before work starts on the roof and inside the building in the coming months.

Following this additional infrastructure work, scaffolding is due to be dismantled in 2022, internal work is due to begin in early 2022 with the Power Hall now due to re-open to the public in 2023.

In years to come, this multi-sensory gallery, full of the sounds of machines, the whistle and smell of steam and incredible personal stories will show how Manchester provided the power that changed the city and the world—from the way we work to the consumer society we live in. In revealing more about the human skill and ingenuity of the past, the Power Hall will inspire the engineers and innovators of the future.

The decarbonisation project is part of the Science and Industry Museum’s multi-million-pound restoration plan, which will conserve and further open up its globally significant buildings and bring to life the story of the site and past, present and future ideas that change the world. Housing the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway station and world’s first railway warehouse in the heart of the world’s first industrial city, alive with science and technology today, a more sustainable museum is being created to provide inspiring experiences for everyone. Information on all current projects including the restoration of the Power Hall can be found on the We are changing page.

Exterior photo of Science and Industry Museum