New guidance to cut emissions across public sector buildings and estates will help ‘save taxpayers millions’

Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance will simplify the steps to cleaner, greener, cost-effective hospitals, prisons, libraries, schools, leisure centres and more.

  • Guidance to boost Net Zero delivery and energy savings across public buildings and estates launched by Energy Systems Catapult, funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, in partnership with the Cabinet Office’s Government Property Function.
  • Practical guidance makes it quicker and easier to decarbonise public sector buildings, marking key progress towards the UK’s world-leading Net Zero targets.
  • Proven approaches show how to implement energy savings at scale – from LED lighting to low carbon heating – to unlock sector-wide consistency and cost-efficiency.
  • Guidance will be instrumental in helping public sector organisations build successful applications for government funding initiatives, such as the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

A new ‘greenprint’ to reduce emissions and energy demand across public buildings and estates, has been officially launched today by Energy Systems Catapult.

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance, developed with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and the Government Property Function, equips public sector organisations with new tools and proven approaches to make decarbonisation simpler across their sites, such as hospitals, schools, leisure centres, museums and universities.

New and unique resources have been based on real-world insights and experience gained from the award-winning Modern Energy Partners (MEP) programme, a ground-breaking partnership across Government Departments, the NHS and Energy Systems Catapult, which has worked with 42 sites to discover the best ways to decarbonise public sector estates.

The suite of tools, templates and checklists includes guidance to help public sector organisations consider their overall decarbonisation solution, what this could look like, and the role that technology can play.

The Guidance will be instrumental in helping public sector organisations build successful applications for the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme and other government funding initiatives, such as the Low Carbon Skills Fund, and help maximise cost and energy savings from these projects.  Resources include procurement support, including a list of routes and frameworks, as well as interactive, downloadable tools such as the Business As Usual Estimator, which uses building, site or portfolio energy data to give a baseline and forward look of energy, carbon and costs.

The public sector accounts for around 2% of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and HMG has a target to reduce these emissions by 75% by 2037 as part of its Net Zero Strategy, compared to a 2017 baseline. £2.5 billion of funding is being invested through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme between 2020 and 2025 in support of this ambition.

This week, the Government announced the allocation of the latest tranche of funding made available through the Public Sector Decarbonisation scheme. Over £400 million has been allocated through the latest round, with more funding to come over the coming weeks, to help public sector bodies across England install heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures. This brings the total investment through the scheme to date to over £2 billion.

The Guidance will further boost the progress of decarbonisation and energy efficiency across public estates, supporting public sector bodies from the first stages of developing a decarbonisation strategy, through funding, installation, and completion.

It is hoped that resources will stimulate tens of thousands of large and smaller-scale energy efficiency and low carbon programmes that offer long-term energy security and savings for the public sector, from changing to LED lighting systems, to replacing heating systems that rely on fossil fuels.

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said:  

“By offering public sector bodies practical and simple advice we’re making it easier for them to drive down emissions from their sites – saving the taxpayer millions of pounds and helping us reach our ambition to reduce energy demand by 15%.

“Reaching Net Zero requires substantial action from the public sector as well as the private. This guidance will provide public sector organisations with the tools they need to explore innovative ways of decarbonising – from implementing new technologies to harnessing data.”

Alex Burghart, Cabinet Office Parliamentary Secretary, said:

“Our Government Property Strategy makes a clear commitment to create a smaller, cleaner, and greener public estate. This guidance published today by Energy Systems Catapult provides expert advice to help support that mission.

“It’s critical every area of the public sector works collaboratively and constructively to develop innovative methods of decarbonising. That’s why this partnership with Energy Systems Catapult was created and I am delighted these cutting-edge tools have been released to help government deliver better public services for the long term.”

Christine St John Cox, Lead of Complex Site Decarbonisation and Head of MEP at Energy Systems Catapult, said:

“Helping the public sector decarbonise doesn’t just support cleaner, greener buildings – it means funds from energy savings can be redirected to vital services in the longer-term, benefitting patients, pupils and local places.

“For the first time, this Guidance brings together both the strategic and the technical knowhow needed to make decarbonisation easier across organisations – supporting decision makers, delivery teams, and the supply chain. By sharing approaches that are practical, consistent and proven in the public sector, we’re providing organisations with resources they can rely on, and the clarity and confidence needed to accelerate Net Zero sites.

“We are continuing to work with Government and industry to equip everyone, across all sectors, with the data and approaches they need to turbocharge decarbonisation.”

Mary Aladegbola, Net Zero Carbon Technical Lead for NHS England, said:

“The decarbonisation of energy is central to the delivery of the NHS’s target to reach Net Zero by 2040. Through the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, we are able to invest in measures to reduce energy carbon and see a short-term return on investment for long-term benefit.

“This Guidance provides practical advice to help simplify decarbonisation projects, standardise approaches to ensure consistency and cost-effectiveness, and support NHS teams to succeed in our bids for government funding. The guide will be an invaluable resource in the arsenal of any professional who is looking for a systematic and integrated approach to decarbonising sites.”

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