Modern Energy Partners: Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance

Guidance to help decarbonise complex sites

To meet the UK’s public sector estate decarbonisation targets, rapid scale-up of delivery is required across the public sector.

The Modern Energy Partners (MEP) programme explored how this could be achieved, at scale, to drive efficiency, and gain consistent results. This was achieved through utilising a repeatable whole systems approach to develop an end to end decarbonisation process.

Whilst the MEP programme focused on campus-style public sector sites, much of the content is likely to be applicable across a wide range of sites.

This webpage gives access to a mass of resources (including insights, tools, templates and guidance) that have been developed in the MEP end to end decarbonisation process.

Who should use these resources?

The resources are available to download following the links at the bottom of this page and are intended for use by the public sector and corresponding private sector supply chain (certain resources are limited to public sector use only and are available on request). An index for easy desktop navigation of all the available material can be downloaded from the ‘Glossary and index’ section of our General Insights page.

What is the end to end process for decarbonisation used by MEP?

The whole process of decarbonising public sector estates can take a number of years and cover a multitude of activities, starting with developing a phased organisational decarbonisation strategy and plan covering the whole estate portfolio and then considering how decarbonisation is going to happen. This should take into account aspects such as:

  • what capacity building is required to monitor and manage decarbonisation,
  • how that will be delivered and what procurement or commercial arrangements will need to be put in place,
  • what the technical solution will be across each site, and at the scale needed.

It is likely that between each phase there will be a need to secure funding through grant funding applications or internal funding routes and writing business cases.

The decarbonisation strategy will set out the overall objectives, while the plan will give more detail on how these will be delivered. The diagram below shows some of the steps that might be set out in a decarbonisation plan, forming the end to end decarbonisation process.

A range of resources that can be utilised to help you through this end to end decarbonisation process can be found below. They are split into three areas:

  1. Insights covering the whole process, to give a high-level understanding of the steps involved
  2. Detailed guidance on the Smart Energy Data Management step
  3. Detailed guidance on the Concept Design and Planning step.

Resources and Guides


Overarching insights to consider when putting together a decarbonisation strategy and plan identified. These span all steps of the process set out above.

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Smart energy data management

Insights and guidance on how to identify and take forward a programme of smart energy data management.

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Concept design planning

A guide on how to design a decarbonisation pathway for a site using a whole system approach across heat, power and links with future transport energy needs.

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Related Guidance

Net Zero Estate Playbook

The Government Property Function’s Net Zero Estate Playbook sets out key policies and guidance for public sector property teams to help in the transition of public buildings and estates to Net Zero

Read more

MEP – Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance FAQs

The MEP process includes concept design planning. Is this the same as a decarbonisation plan?


A decarbonisation plan can cover a site or multiple sites, but it should provide an explanation of how decarbonisation is going to be achieved. That could include governance, capacity and capability, delivery routes, and how implementation and delivery is going to be monitored.

A concept design for a site forms part of the decarbonisation plan and provides an indication of the technologies and interventions which, if implemented at the site, will offer the best value, most efficient pathway for decarbonising. It should take a whole systems approach and should capture assets being replaced at end of life and the sequencing needed. It is not possible to predict the future and therefore any concept should take into account a series of options which can be modelled and updated in the future.

What is whole systems thinking?


Whole systems thinking considers the interactions between different parts of a system and between different systems. In the case of the energy system, this could be interactions between and within systems at a national, regional, local, site or even building level. For a campus site, there is a need to understand interactions between the energy systems locally connecting to the site, operating across the site and even within individual buildings.

To decarbonise complex sites, key facets of system thinking include considering how energy will be used and moving away from fossil fuels by utilising vector change (e.g. switching from natural gas to electricity or hydrogen).

What are the benefits of whole system thinking?


Common practice in site decarbonisation, up until now, has been to collect a series of measures and estimate the benefit of each measure in isolation. This fails to consider how measures interact within the whole system and with each other. MEP used a whole system model to leverage many otherwise hidden advantages:

  • Comparing options rapidly;
  • Assessing the impact of timing on different interventions;
  • Sizing equipment appropriately to meet requirements and reduces the risk of stranded or oversized assets;
  • Assessing the cost/benefits of achieving different levels of decarbonisation.

What is the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme?


The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme provides grants for public sector bodies to fund heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures For more information about the scheme, please visit the scheme’s page.

How does the MEP material relate to the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme?


The MEP material has been designed to provide guidance that can be used to assess the development of a heat decarbonisation strategy down to the development and implementation of a project. Its aim is to provide best practice advice on approaches to developing proposals and delivering projects.

Applicants to the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme are not required to use the MEP materials, but the materials include a number of guides and estimators which may be useful when putting together an application to the scheme.

These materials may be useful to support:

  1. Project prioritisation – In advance of putting together a detailed proposal for a project some prioritisation of the types of project/s that could be put forward may need to be carried out, and the MEP estimators will help.
  2. Consistency – Across a portfolio it may be possible that more than one person or organisation is supporting the development of projects. Referencing back the MEP material as best practice for assumptions will create consistency in the way all parties approach the work. That way more comparable outputs will be provided, again helping with prioritisation.
  3. Credibility – To meet deadlines to apply for the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, quotes for installation of decarbonisation measures often must be sought quickly. Using the MEP cost estimators will help check if the quotes received are good value for money.

What is the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund?


The Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund provides grants to boost decarbonisation skills and unlock decarbonisation in the public sector. The Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund is also managed by the BEIS delivery body Salix Finance, with further information about the scheme available on the BEIS webpage here.

How does the MEP material fit with the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund?


The current phase of the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund provides grant funding for public sector organisations to secure the skills and expertise needed to put in place a heat decarbonisation plan. The MEP material provides insights into the themes which should be considered in developing a heat decarbonisation plan, and covers subjects such as skills and resources, governance, and importantly realistic delivery timeline for projects including the business case stage. These insights provide useful guidance to ensure that a decarbonisation plan is robust, above and beyond the guidance that Salix has previously provided.

It is not expected that the MEP material must be used in making an application for either the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme or the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund however, it will support wider thinking behind any output and help consider the subject matter against best practice.

How does the Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance fit within a Local Area Energy Plan?


A Local Area Energy Plan (LAEP) is a data driven and whole energy system, evidence-based approach that is led by local government developed collaboratively with defined stakeholders. It sets out to identify the most effective route for the local area to contribute towards meeting the national net zero target, as well as meeting its local net zero target. It results in a fully costed and spatial plan that identifies the change needed to the local energy system and built environment, detailing ‘what, where and when and by whom’.  More information on Local Area Energy Planning can be found here.

A public sector organisation is likely to feed into the future energy planning for a LAEP, providing support to understand local demands. Having a detailed understanding of how public sector organisations can decarbonise their estate, for example through the use of the guidance on these webpages, can then allow this knowledge to be fed into a LAEP resulting in better outcomes and providing confidence to other stakeholders.

Is there a charge to use the guidance, tools and templates available on this website?


All the resources are free to use and can be downloaded by anyone – though a small number containing sensitive information (such as cost benchmarks) are restricted to public sector usage.

Energy Systems Catapult can also help organisations use these resources – whether public sector bodies directly or supply chain organisations that are supporting public sector organisations. Please contact us if you would like to explore ways of working with us.

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