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Modern Energy Partners

Systematically decarbonising the public sector estate

Modern Energy Partners (MEP) is a ground-breaking £20million innovation programme within Government to develop a systematic, repeatable and scalable method of enabling the decarbonisation of large, campus-style public sector sites.

The MEP programme was funded and driven by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), alongside Cabinet Office, Treasury and the estate-owning departments, while Energy Systems Catapult provided programme delivery, analytical and technical support.

MEP aims to demonstrate that it is possible for public estates to achieve at least 50% emissions reductions by 2032, building confidence within government and across the public sector in quality and value for money methods of cutting emissions.

The Challenge

In addition to legally-binding national emissions targets of a 75% reduction by 2035 and Net Zero by 2050, the UK Government reaffirmed in the ten point plan a target to achieve at least 50% direct carbon emission reduction across the public sector estate by 2032 against a 2017 baseline.

Delivering results against this target will require a whole systems approach that allows for the sequential installation and integration of known and innovative technologies, enabling them to be optimised.

It also requires an understanding of how decarbonisation could be delivered within existing governance and commercial arrangements.

The Solution

MEP has developed a systematic approach to developing decarbonisation concept designs for sites, which provides consistency in the parameters with which the site is evaluated enabling plan after plan to be compared on a technical, financial and economic basis.

Working with Aecom, Atkins, Buro Happold, Ricardo and Stantec, this approach is being tested on 24 sites which are spread across the Ministry of Defence (MOD), Ministry of Justice (MOJ), and National Health Service (NHS).

Testing out the ease of implementation is also part of the programme with four early “Pathfinder” sites implementing some of the initial stages of their decarbonisation concept designs.

There is also an understanding that better data provides better insight of the challenge at hand therefore each site was provided with submetering, which is being used to improve site energy consumption and identify energy patterns for specific uses and activities which can be used in understanding the wider public sector energy use.

Decarbonisation strategies

An increase in the pace and scale of decarbonisation across the public sector estate is urgently needed to reach targets. Agreed-upon, organisation-wide and long-term decarbonisation strategies can help simplify processes and cut timelines. More broadly, a public sector-wide reporting framework alongside appropriate carbon valuation will incentivise action.

Tailored plans at site level

A tailored and detailed approach is needed for each site. The design stage should consider all aspects of Departmental and site-level governance as well as the appetite for investment in low carbon technology. Working with multiple consultancies in the development of individual design plans can increase idea sharing and avoid technology bias.

Delivery capability

Ensuring resourcing, capacity-building and prioritisation is urgently needed. This includes the capacity building of roles focussed on coordinating the planning and delivery of decarbonisation strategies into existing asset life replacement programmes on site. Important responsibilities of this role will be to select the technology appropriate delivery route and ensure sign-off and access are obtained in a timely manner.

Reports and Insights

Modern Energy Partners is delivering a range out outputs to enhance support for systematically decarbonising the public sector estate


Modern Energy Partners: Testing the practicalities of public sector decarbonisation

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Decarbonising the Public Sector Estate

Applying systems thinking to deliver the evidence and action plans needed by Government to achieve near-term carbon reduction and longer-term targets of Net Zero by 2050.

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