Tag Archive for: public sector

Public Sector Funding for Decarbonisation

The government has launched its latest phase of public sector funding for decarbonisation, dedicating up to £635m for building upgrades to improve energy efficiency and install a range of clean technologies through schools, hospitals, and other public buildings.

Forming part of a wider £2.5bn programme, Phase 3 of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme is providing £1.425 billion of grant funding over the financial years 2022-2023 to 2024-2025. The funding aims to support the government’s goal of reducing emissions from public sector buildings by 75 per cent by 2037, compared to 2017 levels, as set out in the Net Zero and Heat and Buildings strategies.

As the government looks to tackle soaring energy costs, it is intended that the funding will support a wider reduction in energy bills, to the tune of up to £650m a year over the next 15 years. As we have outlined, reducing emissions and energy costs do not necessarily go hand in hand, especially if working with heat pumps to supply hot water.

According to The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) 734 grants had been awarded to public sector organisations across England to date, with phase one of the scheme supporting up to 30,000 jobs in the clean heating and energy efficiency sectors.

Applications for public sector funding for decarbonisation open from September and the government has issued guidance on how public bodies can apply for the latest wave of funding to be delivered on behalf of the government by Salix Finance, which also provides financing packages to help public sector bodies undertake energy-saving projects.

Salix Finance chief executive, Annie Shepperd, has urged public sector organisations across the country to move quickly to curb their energy use ahead of the significant increases in energy costs that are widely expected this winter.

“There is no time like the present to push forward with the decarbonisation agenda as our country must meet its ambitious targets to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our consumption of very costly energy,” she said. “This vital work is driving down our carbon footprint and making these buildings better places for people to work in and for the public to use.”

Business and Energy Minister Lord Callanan said, “By helping even more public sector bodies ditch costly fossil fuels, we are taking an important step towards a more sustainable future while driving economic growth across the country and continuing to support tens of thousands of jobs.”  He also claimed that the scheme was already delivering upgrades to “hundreds of public buildings across England, making them cheaper to run and saving taxpayers millions of pounds each year”.

While such claims relating to public sector funding for decarbonisation should be appropriate to new build structures, upgrading existing buildings is a far more complex activity than these statements suggest. The focus on decarbonisation to address climate change is the only clear guaranteed deliverable at this time with the technology being promoted, which is predominantly heat pumps. Further work needs to be done by the government to push other technology opportunities, such as solar systems and especially solar thermal for water heating which has become an increasingly cost-effective and proven approach and hydrogen blend in the grid if cost savings are to be factored into the argument for embracing green initiatives at a commercial grade.


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UK Progress Towards Net Zero

There has been a great deal of talk about the decarbonisation of this country but what has been the UK progress towards net zero so far?

A new progress report by the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) has been damning. Despite the UK having a solid Net Zero strategy in place, the CCC has identified “major failings” in government delivery programmes designed to achieve climate change in the UK by 2050. The CCC notes that once again emissions are on the rise, up 4% in 2021 compared with 2020, which it directly associates with the economy beginning the process of post-COVID-19 recovery.

From a lack of tangible progress in policy ambition and slow progress on wider enables, the UK is in danger of failure in building on the apparent success of COP26 last November. While the UK presidency of the UN COP26 climate summit strengthened long-term global ambition and introduced new mechanisms to support delivery it has not yet prioritised making those new mechanisms work in practice. Greater emphasis and focus now must be placed on the delivery of the agreed emission path, with the caveat that not all policies will deliver as planned.

In response, the CCC progress report lists more than 300 recommendations that must be addressed between now and 2024 if the UK is to be successful in delivering net zero by 2050.

Following the Heat & Building Strategy for England, the CCC has called for more detail on the modelled pathway for low-carbon heat, and planned breakdown of funding announced in the Scotland Heat in Buildings Strategy; a coherent, long-term strategy for heat and energy efficiency in Northern Ireland; and further work to build on the plans set out in Net Zero Wales Carbon Budget 2. This should include policies to support low-carbon heating across all of the building stock.

In addressing the UK progress towards net zero the CCC identifies the need for a final policy plan for the market-based approach to low-carbon heat. This must include a clear explanation of how the obligation on manufacturers or energy suppliers will work, whether enabling legislation is required, and a timeline for implementation. It should also include details on how the Government will track whether the policy is driving the required market growth, and identify trigger points for further intervention (e.g. funding, regulation) if progress falls behind.

Missing The BUS

The current Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which can be used by small businesses as well as homes, requires an awareness campaign to drive demand, alongside an increase in available funding as required so that those who want a heat pump through the scheme can get one. This mirror’s findings from the Ground Source Heat Pump Association (GSHPA) that show the £450 million scheme is yet to deliver increased demand for heat pumps. According to Ofgem, during the period 23 May to 30 June 2022, only 169 vouchers were redeemed for <45kWth heat pumps (air source and ground source) and biomass heating. Off the back of this scheme, there remains a clear need to grow and upskill the workforce will support the Government’s pathways for low-carbon heat and energy efficiency and fill the skills gap identified in the Heat and Buildings Strategy.

Regulation & Enforcement

What is clear is that achieving change requires policy backed by mandated regulations. These include published targets for the roll-out from now until 2037 of heat pumps that do not use F-gases as a refrigerant, plus plans to phase out boiler replacements in off-grid non-residential buildings from 2024, and consult on introducing an earlier phase-out date for gas boilers in non-residential buildings.

Consultation is also required on a full technical specification for the Future Buildings Standard in 2023 to ensure the new standards are implemented by 2025. The intent is to see the delivery of new buildings which are resilient to climate change impacts, with ultra-high energy efficiency standards and low-carbon heating. This should be supported by improvements to the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) framework to ensure they drive the deployment of the necessary energy efficiency and low-carbon heat. Proposals are also put forward for minimum EPC in owner-occupied commercial buildings. Minimum EPC standards must also be enforced, including consideration of additional measures to monitor compliance of qualified installers, approved inspectors and EPC assessors, and providing local areas with sufficient resources to undertake assessments.

Public Sector Charged With Taking The Lead

To meet ambitious Government targets and show leadership in public sector buildings decarbonisation, public sector organisations, including those not captured by the Greening Government Commitments, must have the information and support they need to: monitor their energy use, set targets and reduce emissions from their estate over the next five years.

All public sector buildings should halve emissions by 2032.

This requires the development and implantation of plans for a zero carbon remit. To do this will require an increase in multi-year funding commitments for decarbonisation in public buildings up until 2025 to match the Government’s ambition for public sector decarbonisation and commit to continuing similar levels of funding beyond 2025. Proportionate mechanisms should be put in place to review overall progress and recurring challenges. To achieve this the government needs to publish the completed carbon and water management plan and the sustainability management plan that is under development. The plan should include clear pathways for reaching Greening the Government Commitment targets for halving emissions from public buildings.

The assessment of whole-life carbon and material use in private and public construction projects should be mandatory by 2025, to enable minimum standards to be set. The whole life carbon assessment should be sought at the planning stage to enable efforts to reduce embodied carbon and materials.

Strategy & Assessment For Small To Medium Commercial Organisations

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMES) require improved engagement, particularly high-emission, low-engagement businesses. The recommendation is for a package of measures including a one-stop shop for SMEs to get decarbonisation advice with a carbon footprinting tool, develop a strengthened low-carbon advisor/auditor role for SMEs and develop an effective financing strategy to support SME decarbonisation.

This should be driven by a performance-based rating scheme with a published timeline for offices and other building types, outlining how timelines correspond to the expected emissions reduction trajectory of commercial buildings in the 2020s.

The Government needs to rapidly communicate findings on SME energy efficiency from the new research mentioned in the Heat and Buildings Strategy, and outline plans to ensure SMEs are able to invest in retrofit and energy efficiency measures. This research should support the publishing of clear plans to move towards in-use performance metrics for buildings, with clear timescales and responsibilities. The CCC concludes this should lead to the consideration for moving towards Green Buildings Passports.

Green Needs Green

Recognising that the transition needs to scale up over this decade and that stable funding provides certainty to businesses, and public bodies, what is clear from the progress report is that there remains a lack of comprehensive vision to leverage private financing for the retrofit of UK businesses, with consideration to include green stamp duty, green mortgages, energy as a service, and property-linked finance. In order for successful UK progress towards net zero the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, Local Authority Delivery Scheme, Energy Company Obligation and public sector decarbonisation must continue to be fully funded as required beyond the spending review period.

Solar thermal heating for public sector from Adveco

Public Sector Decarbonisation Of Hot Water & Heating

Public sector decarbonisation is a core facet of the government’s Heat & Building Strategy, which has been published to outline how the UK can achieve net zero by 2050. By decarbonising public sector buildings, the government aims to demonstrate leadership and to encourage action in other sectors to make a direct contribution to net zero.

With around 40% of UK greenhouse gas emissions being accounted for by heating, cooling, and lighting the built environment, the government has said it is ‘essential that the public sector demonstrate leadership and drive down emissions by using credible and consistent approaches to decarbonise the public sector estate.’ The aim is to reduce direct emissions from public sector buildings by 75% against a 2017 baseline by the end of carbon budget 6.

Addressing decarbonisation within both new construction or refurbishment of existing properties has now become a key deliverable throughout the public sector which will need to be shown to be leading the way in decarbonising UK buildings in the 2020s.

What is the government doing to support the public sector?  

The government’s £1 billion Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme was initially announced in 2020 to provide funding until this year. Conceived to support the public sector in finding answers to heat decarbonisation additional funding was allocated to make public buildings greener and the second phase of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme was launched last April with an additional £75 million of funding into this year. The government has subsequently committed to investing a further £1425 million for the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme between now and 2025. This funding is intended to provide public sector organisations with grants to fund energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation measures and supports the decarbonisation of the public sector in line with the government set net zero targets.

The funding will aim to deliver energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation improvements to organisations such as schools, hospitals and public sector offices, and present an opportunity to build wider support and acceptance for transformation of how the UK heats buildings. The government has stated it is committed to the continuation and extension of the scheme to “ensure that public sector bodies have access to finance to continue decarbonising their estates.”

What does the government expect of the public sector?

The government’s aim is to introduce greater transparency into how the public sector is making practical changes to achieve decarbonisation. At a basic level, the expectation is for “all public sector organisations to be thinking about how they will achieve Net Zero and should be taking steps to start this process now.” As publicly-funded organisations, they should expect to be held accountable to the public by reporting their progress. Through the Greening Government Commitments (GGCs) a framework for reporting against targets to reduce public sector greenhouse gas emissions has already been set in place, and now all public sector organisations will be expected to show leadership by taking steps to reduce direct greenhouse gas emissions. This should include monitoring their energy use and setting targets and plans to reduce emissions over the next five years. Different targets will be appropriate for different organisations, but all public sector organisations are expected to publicly report progress against their plans and targets.

The Heat & Building Strategy specifically calls on public sector organisations to plan to reduce direct emissions from their heating systems by making buildings more efficient. This should be achieved through:

  • improving building insulation
  • switching to low-carbon heating sources when it is time for heating systems to be replaced
  • implementing smart technology
  • installing low-carbon heating in new buildings, which means retrofitting will not be needed

If reporting of public sector emissions on a consistent and coherent basis is not done on a voluntary basis, and, if insufficient progress is made on reducing emissions in the public sector, the government will consider legislation requiring all public sector organisations work toward and report against a legally binding target to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

How can Adveco help?

The Heat & Building Strategy accepts that public sector organisations will require new specialist skills and expertise to decarbonise, both through making infrastructure improvements and by better managing operational energy use. As the public sector provides all public services, including education, healthcare, emergency services and social care to name a few, these organisations encompass a large and varied requirement for hot water and heating.

Including everything from showers, washbasins and kitchens, to varied space heating demands,   applications will vary dramatically across each bespoke case, making decisions on decarbonisation all the more complex and difficult without specialist support.

Currently, the government favours air source heat pump (ASHP) based applications for the public sector as the simplest and most cost-effective answer to being greener. But many have queried the expense and relevancy of the technology outside of new build properties. The Government has said it will work with the industry to help meet the goal of reducing ASHP cost, bringing them in line with current fossil fuel options by 2030, ‘with big cost reductions of between a quarter and a half by 2025 expected as the market expands, and technology develops.’

This and the practical benefits of switching to high-efficiency heat pumps to reduce energy consumption, which includes less CO₂ production and lower long-term operational costs, make the technology an important part of the process for achieving carbon-neutral goals on schedule. The high-temperature demands of commercial hot water systems do however curtail the current generation of heat pumps as a singular response, with existing, poorly insulated buildings further reducing efficiencies. For this reason, public sector organisations faced with delivering decarbonisation goals within the proposed next five year period will need to consider more complex hybrid systems, or if on gas, look to solar thermalas a practical way to reduce energy use and decarbonise their buildings.

There are a number of available responses and new lower-carbon technologies are under consideration by the government for further support but knowing what is best for your organisation is not always straightforward. Faced with varied building stock, technology options and fluctuating user demands for hot water and heating consulting with Adveco’s expert sales and engineering staff can help you truly understand those needs and the options best suited to your bespoke situation.

Discover more about Adveco’s renewable systems for decarbonising your building hot water and heating.

Funding Retrofit for Public Buildings

The Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund is a £1billion fund being made available now for the upgrade of public buildings and social housing to make them more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Projects with a focus on decarbonisation of heating and hot water will undoubtedly be a priority when granting funds as, according to 2019 figures issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), heating, cooling, ventilating, and providing hot water and lighting for the built environment still generates 17% of greenhouse gas in the UK.

Part of a wider £3b plan to upgrade the UK’s buildings, the plan has been generally welcomed, as it is hoped to support up to 120,000 jobs across the construction sector, as well as boosting local investment through local job creation.

Designed to aid public sector organisations in England, including central government departments, agencies, local authorities, and especially schools and NHS Trusts. The plan’s intention is to improve buildings’ operational performance, reduce CO2 emissions, raise comfort levels for staff, plus reduce in building-related complaints and maintenance backlogs. This is to be achieved through the specification and installation of energy-efficient and low carbon heating measures.

However, the fund is only being made available for a single year, and since its announcement in July, has raised queries over whether government departments and local authorities have the time or resource to spend this effectively. Facility and energy managers responsible for public sector real estate should already be exploring their options for project design and delivery, not least because of the wider concerns over project timescales in the wake of Covid-19. It is, therefore, crucial to be scoping out retrofit projects as soon as possible.

At Adveco, we have almost 50 years’ experience supporting the refurbishment of public sector heating and hot water systems. While studies show that over the next two decades renewable energy sources (RES) – a mix of district heating, heat pumps, wind and solar energy – will be crucial to the energy supply in the heating market, we would lean towards more technology-open scenarios that not only predict large proportions of heat pumps but also assume the use of gaseous fuels. Just as electricity is becoming greener so too can the gaseous fuels which will contain larger shares of renewable ‘green’ hydrogen gas and other synthetic fuels by 2050. This supports the adoption of a hybrid approach that combines new and existing technologies, which we not only see as more practical but is both cost-effective and less influenced by the volatility of a RES electricity-only approach. The hybrid approach is especially valid when it comes to refurbishing old and inefficient systems, as well as extending viable systems where fresh demands outpace the original scope of the application.

From the latest high-efficiency, ultra-low emission condensing gas and water heaters to electric appliances, sustainable solar thermal and air source heat pumps, Adveco is deliberately positioned can support the introduction and integration of the latest technology. Typically, the latest generation of appliance not only is more efficient, but it can also offer a far more compact footprint, so makes refurbishment simpler, and without needing extensive building work to accommodate plant require less capital expenditure. If systems require scaling up to meet increased demands for heating and domestic hot water (DHW) then refurbishment can quickly become more complex, and if a hybrid system is employed, greater space may be required for the dual systems, as well as additional controls and pipework. Should the availability of space be an issue Adveco can design and build off-site prefabricated plant rooms that make full advantage of unused space, such as flat roofs, to expand capabilities.

If a hybrid heating system is chosen, it offers great advantages for cost-effective control, for example, a hybrid heat pump/gas boiler system is able to reduce the maximum power consumption of a system by smartly balancing the heat generators for greater efficiencies and lower operational costs whilst guaranteeing high system temperatures to ensure the comfort of those still living or working in the building during refurbishment work. And, by selecting the optimal (ecological) heat generator whenever possible (via an energy management system) it can also be optimised for CO2 emissions. Should the building envelope be renovated, the required heating load decreases and the existing gas boiler can take on less of the annual heating work, and it could eventually be put out of operation.

An extra £50m will fund social housing through a demonstrator project for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF). This UK-wide demonstrator scheme will see grants supplied to upgrade the energy efficiency of over 2,000 of the worst-performing social homes. Again, Adveco has a long heritage designing and delivering multi-occupancy applications for heating and DHW.

To secure climate-neutral building stock by 2050, public sector facility managers desperately need help to achieve practical and cost-effective sustainability. At Adveco we can help with a full-service application design team who can provide an assessment of your properties’ demands and correctly size an application. We can help recommend the optimum appliances to deliver highly efficient systems that provide the best value in terms of capital and operational expenditure, whilst meeting the need to reduce emissions. Our commissioning service also ensures installation is carried out correctly and the system is safe to operate, which then unlocks long-term manufacturer quality warranty service.

If you haven’t started to scope out your project, or need aid, please contact us today about your project.