Accelerating carbon emissions reduction across public sector buildings, sites and estates… with simplicity, speed and scale

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Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance

The Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance will simplify the process of cutting carbon emissions and energy bills with simplicity, speed and scale.

Who should use this guidance?

This Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance was commissioned by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and the Government Property Function to help public sector bodies and their decarbonisation partners understand the best route to Net Zero. We aim to help deliver decarbonisation projects at scale, as well as support grant funding applications, to enable rapid progress on reducing carbon emissions.

This Guidance takes learnings from the award-winning Modern Energy Partners (MEP) programme and expertise from across Energy Systems Catapult to provide guidance on heat decarbonisation and energy management.

MEP was a £12.4m collaborative, cross-departmental innovation programme led by Energy Systems Catapult and funded BEIS’s Energy Innovation Portfolio. The programme was overseen by BEIS and the Cabinet Office, with additional match funding from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence and NHS pathfinder sites.

Focusing on learning-by-doing, MEP carried out specific activities to generate consistent, repeatable approaches for scalable delivery of decarbonisation, taking into account whole system thinking on high energy using campus-style sites.

What is the challenge for the UK Public Sector to reach Net Zero?

With more than 300,000 individual properties, at a combined value of £515bn, the UK public sector manages, by some distance, the largest property portfolio in the country. The Central Government estate alone has an estimated value of £157.6bn, with an annual running cost of £21.7bn. Public sector buildings are responsible for around 2% of the total UK greenhouse gas emissions.

While the Government has made good progress in decarbonising its operations – reducing emissions by 57% by 2020-21 compared to 2009-10 and with an estimated 38% of this reduction due to improved management of the estate – there is still more to be done.

The Greening Government Commitments set out the actions UK government departments and their partner organisations will take to reduce their impacts on the environment in the period 2021 to 2025. The Greening Government Commitments set individual departmental emissions reduction targets, driving action and helping the Government meet its overall Net Zero target.

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The Latest - Guides, Tools, Templates, Webinars and Case Studies

The Latest Guidance Documents

Report covers

1. Power Purchase Agreement guide

2. Net Zero considerations for public sector bodies

3. Greenhouse gas reporting guide

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Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) guide

This guide sets out benefits and risks of the different PPA models for offtakers and generators. It also gives an overview of the procurement process and stakeholder engagement to help optimise your contract terms.

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Net Zero considerations for public sector bodies

Is your organisation set up to deliver Net Zero? 16 considerations for public sector bodies.

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Greenhouse gas reporting guide

This guide covers the basics for greenhouse gas emissions monitoring and reporting. It details the different routes you might use voluntarily, and the associated benefits, as well as mandatory disclosures for public sector organisations.

Seven Themes to Decarbonise the Public Sector

1. Developing Public Sector Decarbonisation Strategy

Guidance and tools to help you to develop a data-led organisational strategy to decarbonise your public sector buildings including heating. The guidance will help you set up your organisation for success, secure “buy-in” for your strategy, think about greenhouse gas reporting and give you an overview of the following six steps. The guidance complements the Net Zero Estate Playbook – developed by the Office of Government Property with support from Energy Systems Catapult.

 

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2. Design and Feasibility

Develop detailed feasibility studies for one, or a suite of, investible decarbonisation measures, for example low carbon heating, aligned to your decarbonisation strategy. This guidance and tools will enable you to prioritise areas for delivery, know what to ask for and help you appraise technical options for delivering your desired outcomes.

Did you know? The average time it took to develop a feasibility study during MEP was 3 months.

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3. Procurement

Identifying the right procurement and contracting approaches, and working effectively with your procurement team is vital to delivering the projects in your decarbonisation strategy. These tools and guidance will help you identify relevant procurement frameworks, write high quality tenders and evaluate the responses.

Did you know? The public sector procures 30,000 LED bulbs each year.

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4. Public Sector Decarbonisation Funding

Securing funding sources and agreement on what to spend are key enablers to delivering your decarbonisation strategy. Our guidance and tools will help you work out what your projects will cost, apply for available grants for the public sector, including applying to DESNZ’s delivery body Salix Finance for grants from the Low Carbon Skills Fund and/or the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

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5. Installation

This guidance will help you to project manage the installation of decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures and effectively manage your decarbonisation partners. We cover how to effectively manage risks and issues that may arise, monitor progress against a programme of works and implement quality assurance processes.

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6. Commissioning and Handover

Maximising the benefits delivered from a completed project is supported with guidance about the handing over process, the commissioning and correct set-up of equipment, and staff training.

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7. Monitoring and Evaluation

This guidance helps ensure that the benefits of energy efficiency measures and decarbonisation are delivered through metering and analysis.

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All seven themes on one page

Guides

All seven themes on one page

Tools & Tutorials

All seven themes on one page

Webinars & Case Studies

Net Zero considerations for public sector bodies

Is your organisation set up to deliver Net Zero? 16 considerations for public sector bodies.

Modern Energy Partners: Case Study

Case study for the award-winning £12.4m programme that tested practical decarbonisation of the Public sector estate

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Modern Energy Partners: Testing the practicalities of public sector decarbonisation

Detailed findings and recommendations from the Modern Energy Partners innovation programme, tasked with exploring how to decarbonise the public sector estate.

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MEP: Testing the practicalities of public sector decarbonisation - Detailed Chapters

MEP report cover
  1. MEP – Chapter 1: Introduction and programme delivery
  2. MEP – Chapter 2: Decarbonisation Delivery Strategy
  3. MEP – Chapter 3: Finance and Funding
  4. MEP – Chapter 4: Capacity and capability
  5. MEP – Chapter 5: Public Sector Decarbonisation in Practice
  6. MEP – Evaluation of Phase 2 of the Modern Energy Partners programme
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MEP – Chapter 1: Introduction and Programme Delivery

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MEP – Chapter 2: Decarbonisation Delivery Strategy

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MEP – Chapter 3: Finance and Funding

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MEP – Chapter 4: Capacity and Capability

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MEP – Chapter 5: Public Sector Decarbonisation in Practice

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MEP - Evaluation of Phase 2 of the Modern Energy Partners programme

Acknowledgments

This has been a truly collaborative initiative and we’d like to thank all of the partners who worked with us:

Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance - FAQs

Q. Who is the Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance for?

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The Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance is a suite of free guides, tools, templates and checklists which will help organisations to reduce their emissions and energy costs.

The guidance builds on the real-world insights and experience gained from the award-winning Modern Energy Partners Programme, to provide a layered package that builds from the basics into detailed technical advice and links onto specialist resources, presented through an accessible and straightforward user journey.

It can help organisations with different levels of capability to plan and deliver energy savings and decarbonisation projects, and apply for government grants such as the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund and Public sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

Q. What was the Modern Energy Partners programme?

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Modern Energy Partners (MEP) was a ground-breaking innovation programme tasked with exploring how to decarbonise the public sector estate, delivered in collaboration with selected government departments, the NHS and industry.

Completed in September 2021, MEP was funded by the Energy Innovation Programme from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. MEP focused on learning through doing, testing out the practicalities of decarbonisation on complex campus-style public sector sites.

Q. How is the Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance different from other guidance?

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For the first time, this guidance considers the entire decarbonisation lifecycle bringing together resources covering every stage, through an accessible and straightforward user journey comprising seven themes which closely mirror the RIBA Plan of Work.

Each of the themes contains a main guide which gives an overview of the actions which public sector organisations should consider taking, and signposts to further supporting guidance, downloadable practical tools and industry best practice.

The Guidance will make achieving net zero sites and energy savings simpler, supporting public sector bodies from the first stages of developing a strategy, through funding, installation and completion, to boost progress towards the UK’s Net Zero target.

Q. How does the Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance support the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme?

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The Guidance will help public sector bodies think about their entire decarbonisation journey. The new and unique resources will help organisations to be more prepared for any funding application, by enabling better planning and strategy, and upskilling teams around budgeting.

The Guidance can help public sector organisations build successful applications for government funding initiatives, such as the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme and the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund, and help to maximise cost and energy savings from these projects.

Q. How does Net Zero Go fit with the Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance?

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The Public Sector Decarbonisation Guidance is the ultimate resource for public sector estates and building decarbonisation. In supporting the sector to deliver a high-quality pipeline of Net Zero projects, the Guidance also equips local authority users to make the most of the Net Zero Go platform, able to feed in replicable, scalable projects that can better attract private investment.

Q. Is there grant funding available to help the public sector decarbonise?

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A. Yes, the Low Carbon Skills Fund and the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme both provide funding for the public sector. Check out our Public sector decarbonisation funding page for more information.

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Net Zero sites made simpler… we help you to make energy savings and cut emissions across public, commercial or industrial estates

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