MERCi Opens

After many years of hard grind, Manchester Environmental Resource Centre initiative (MERCi) officially opened their doors at the start of April. The "flagship centre" for sustainable living is know as "Bridge 5 Mill" and is based in Ancoats next to the Ashton Canal. MERCi are claiming the building, originally a shell and built up with the use of waste products, is the greenest building in the North West.

Shredded polystyrene packaging has been used to insulate the walls of the new centre. Reclaimed timber from local demolition sites has been turned into doors and window frames. Hardcore from the construction of a lift shaft is being used to create a wheelchair-accessible entrance ramp and the reception office has been made from straw bales, mud and an old snooker table.

The centre includes an exhibition on environmental issues and a resource centre full of information and advice - you can pick up your Networking Newsletter there! It all runs to strict environmental standards, with composting and rain-water toilets, solar and wind power and a complete ban on PVC and solvents. It will also work within the local community to encourage sustainable economic and social development.

MERCi was formed in 1996 by two volunteers with £100 in the bank. Five years later they have raised over £1 million. Chair Chris Walsh sees Bridge 5 Mill as just the first step in a sustainable future for the people of Manchester. "Regeneration can only work if local people are given the tools to improve their neighbourhoods. MERCi is one such tool, enabling local people, community groups and council departments to work progressively on projects that equally improve communities, protect the environment and make the city more prosperous."

MERCi (0161 273 1736,

Women on construction course at MERCi

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© Networking Newsletter (April 2001)