Tag Archive for: schools

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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A Strategy For Education Estates: Sustainability And Climate Change:

As the government pushes for rapid adoption of net zero, the brunt of early development will inevitably fall to the government-funded public sector, in the latest policy paper, the government has outlined a strategy for education estates to address climate change and sustainability.

The government has set a vision for the United Kingdom to be the world-leading education sector in sustainability and climate change by 2030. To achieve this will require education to play a positive role in responding to climate change and inspiring action by supporting the delivery of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and Net Zero Strategy.

The strategy applies to the Department for Education (DfE), its agencies and public bodies, as well as early years schools (and independent schools where applicable), further education, higher education and children’s social care. The strategy commits to encouraging children to be close to nature both in and out of school, whilst legislating to meet net zero by 2050 placing a restriction, through legally binding carbon budgets, on the total amount of greenhouse gases the UK can emit over a 5-year period. In the latest, Carbon Budget 6, the UK legislated to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels.

Strategy For Education Estates: Aims

The government’s vision for the education sector is based on delivering four strategic aims:

  • Excellence in education and skills: through learning and practical experience prepare skill base for delivering a more sustainable future
  • Net zero: by reducing direct and indirect emissions from education buildings and providing opportunities for students to engage practically in the transition to net zero
  • Resilience: adapting education buildings and systems to be resiliently prepared for the effects of climate change
  • A better future environment: enhancing biodiversity, improving air quality and increasing access to nature in and around education settings

Whilst the government has set out a broad holistic approach to addressing sustainability and climate change across the education sector, a considerable portion, through net zero and the need for resilience, directly addresses the buildings within the education estate.

Strategy For Education Estates: Where To Begin?

To reduce energy usage and achieve legal targets for carbon emissions the education sector needs to get a better understanding of the scale of the problem. Schools and universities represent 36% of total UK public sector building emissions with costs being both significant and on the rise. Financial benchmarking shows schools alone were spending around £630m per annum on energy in 2019, with costs rising subsequently.

Adapting existing buildings and designing new ones to respond to climate change and reduce emissions presents a significant challenge. By standardising reporting for decarbonisation and climate resilience the government aims to develop evidence-based actions to support a reduction in energy demand and help adapt buildings to climate risks through innovation in construction that also deliver capital and operational savings. With increased legislation on net zero, consistent reporting will become a necessity. The government’s Net Zero Strategy commits to legislate reporting of emissions if insufficient progress is made voluntarily. It has committed to working with BEIS in the development of guidance on monitoring and reporting for the education sector

This reporting is set to include published risk assessments of overheating of the education estate, to be reviewed on an annual basis from 2023, and on-site emissions from the education estate, baselined by 2024, and progress against national targets published from 2025 onwards. The reports should directly address the requirements of net zero, climate adaptation and decarbonisation activity within education buildings.

This activity is also seen as a way to enhance and contextualise valuable learning opportunities. Through participation, pupils should gain insight into the implementation of climate adaptation measures, learn how buildings can be designed for net zero, and better understand the impacts of energy and water use.

The government’s focus for education estates through until 2025 will involve evidence gathering and reporting on the various new technologies, innovation in sustainable building design, retrofit, and building management to supply further guidance alongside that already to help public sector organisations achieve net zero. Once a best value for money approach is decided upon the process of investment will accelerate.

Strategy For Education Estates: Existing Buildings

The building energy efficiency survey indicates that approximately 60% of energy use in education settings is associated with high carbon intensity fuels such as natural gas, coal and oil. Reducing demand for heating and hot water use, and/or delivering via more sustainable means is a critical need.

For existing buildings, the strategy begins with further trials of smart meters and energy management systems that can help reduce usage and operational costs. Improved collation and use of data on energy usage, water and heat will help to drive individual settings for education buildings. Current delivery of Energy Management Systems in schools which will provide real-time information about energy usage, enabling evidence-based decisions and wider advisory of setting to improve energy efficiency. This is designed to enable Climate Action Plans to be put into place to inform government on the implementation of decarbonisation strategies.

One approach is to address sustainable heating and hot water by providing off-site manufactured, low-carbon, heating systems on the existing school and college estate. These ‘Energy Pods’, similar to Adveco developed packaged plant rooms, are viewed as a potentially strategic approach to safely deliver sustainability for the education estate.

This year the government has also committed to testing the feasibility of replacing school boilers with ground or air source heat pump applications that can be upscaled to accelerate decarbonisation between 2025 and 2035 as part of a wider effort to replace fossil fuel heating systems with low carbon heating.

To support the future retrofit of the education estate and act as catalyst to the construction sector for implementing new technology the government intends to generate building technology pilots. These projects will provide evidence for mitigating the causes of climate change, investigating the resilience of existing buildings and how their environmental conditions can be improved.

Working with BEIS this year, education will be helped with accessing the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, with better-aligned application processes and funding windows. By 2023, all bids for capital funding for further education and higher education will need to consider environmental impact, carbon reduction and adaptation measures, and align with the government’s targets and objectives.

Strategy For Education Estates: New Builds

All new school buildings delivered by DfE which are not already contracted will be net zero in operation.

They will be designed for a 2°C rise in average global temperatures and future-proofed for higher indoor temperatures should there be a 4°C rise. The delivery framework for centrally delivered low-carbon, climate-resilient projects was published late last year and local authorities will need to consider environmental sustainability, carbon reduction and energy efficiency when planning with basic need grant-funding rates in place to deliver these new school capital projects. From now on bids into the Further Education Capital Transformation Programme will also be assessed to determine if the new works will be net zero in operation.

The implementation of ultra-low carbon education buildings will be accelerated. By 2025 at least four schools and one college will have been built via the Gen Zero Platform that was demonstrated at COP26. Over time, all centrally delivered new-build projects are to be built using ultra-low carbon methods.

To help understand how elements of this strategy can be quickly and cost-effectively implemented visit Adveco’s education resources for schools, academies, colleges and universities or contact us to discuss options for a site assessments to give you the accurate data you need to make a more educated decision on evolving hot water systems to be more sustainable.

Government Outlines Ten Step Plan In Drive Towards Net Zero

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a £4bn package to:

“Create, support and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net zero by 2050. Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines, propelled by the electric vehicles and advanced by the latest technologies, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”

The plan is wide-ranging, with a clear focus on creating jobs and addressing climate change at the same time, but many have challenged the allocation of funds needed to deliver on the challenge.

The Prime Minister’s plan outlines ten key deliverables:

  1. Produce enough offshore wind to power every home in the UK, quadrupling how much it produces to 40 gigawatts by 2030.
  2. Create five gigawatts of ‘low carbon’ hydrogen production capacity by 2030 – for industry, transport, power and homes – with the first town heated by hydrogen by 2030.
  3. Making homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient, including an aggressive target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.
  4. Accelerate the transition to electric vehicles by phasing out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by the end of the decade.
  5. Advancing the provisioning of nuclear power as a clean energy source, with new plant likely to be located at Sizewell and a new generation of small nuclear reactors.
  6. Invest in zero-emission public transport for the future.
  7. Support projects researching zero-emission fuels for planes and ships.
  8. Develop carbon capture technology with a target of removing 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2030.
  9. Plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year.
  10. Create a global centre of green innovation and finance based in the City of London.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has stated that the announced £4bn investment is part of a wider £12bn package of public investment, but to put that sum into perspective, Germany has already committed to a €7bn investment in hydrogen alone to deliver a filling station network and create a hydrogen-powered train.

Concerted efforts to further decarbonise the grid through offshore wind, nuclear power and a further a subsidy of up to £500m to develop hydrogen production, partly by excess energy from offshore wind, will continue to impact on the way new and replacement commercial heating and hot water systems will be designed. But there remains little indication of how these investments in the green economy will directly support commercial organisations coming under pressure to address ageing, inefficient systems. The Government failed to gauge the scale of demand from domestic sites with the Green Homes Grant, and this plan has extended that support for a further year to attempt to address the over-subscription already seen, and the same can be said for businesses that are facing a short timeframe to secure non-domestic RHI support, without a clear replacement being announced. The initial propositions for replacement commercial Green Grants, being excised.

The drive to see the installation of 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028 is again a domestic focus, although hospitals and schools have been quoted in the same breath, and no doubt additional public sector funding is going to be extended to drive this adoption. But it is worth remembering that the demands and complexity of a commercial system based around a heat pump is decidedly more complex than a domestic installation. Even now, the domestic market is struggling to identify where the large number of competent, approved installers for these hundreds of thousands of heat pumps is coming from, and that scenario will be more deeply felt in the commercial space. The lack of provisioning for large scale retraining of installers is concerning, and again a failure to show support for commercial organisations that are increasingly being mandated to demonstrate clear and real investment in sustainable and low carbon technology seems to be a critical oversight. Especially given the percentage of emissions building stock contributes each year.

Labour MP Alun Whitehead, shadow minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has stated that a mixed approach encompassing different technology types such as electric and gas solutions was the way to ensure heat decarbonisation.

“We believe in speedy progress on heat decarbonisation, but we need to see a horses for courses approach. This would include heat pumps – or hybrid heat pumps where appropriate – particularly in new build and off-grid properties; district heating islands in more urban areas; and a substantial expansion of green gas (bio-methane and hydrogen) in the system.”

The Labour Party expects gas heat, specifically from boilers modified for greener fuels, to be an essential part of the decarbonisation of UK buildings. Labour’s Green Economic Recovery strategy hints at the importance of hydrogen, and in sourcing greener hydrogen produced via electrolysis, for transforming how buildings get their heat. It also highlights the need to retrain workers and create new roles around greener energy and infrastructure, as well as supporting businesses to become more sustainable.

There remains a year until the COP26 UN summit, to be hosted in Glasgow, anticipated by many to be the most critical since the Paris Agreement in 2015. That gives twelve months to further define objectives and provide a clear path with meaningful inducement for the commercial sector if the increasingly aggressive timetable is to be met. The previous carbon budgets set by the government have been achieved, but the ‘easy wins’ are now behind us; future carbon budgets are no longer on track to be achieved and it will only get more difficult. This ten-point plan, should be seen as encouraging, establishing a more defined set of targets for the nation, but greater clarity is required and much still needs to be done in terms of ensuring their practical delivery.

Talk to Adveco today about how you can leverage renewables including air source heat pumps, solar thermal and heat recovery to drive sustainability within your commercial hot water and heating systems.

Packaged plant room

Offsite Construction For Heating – An Educated Decision

Understand how schools can use packaged plant rooms from Adveco to rapidly deploy hot water, heating and cogeneration.

Provisioning a modern, efficient, cost-effective and sustainable business-critical hot water and heating system is not necessarily straight forward for some sites. They may be limited in terms of existing plant room space, or in the case of much older buildings, have no dedicated plant room space at all. Other sites may face limitations in terms of when work can actually be carried out on site. If a works window is especially narrow it can preclude larger scale project work.

The proper coordination of equipment, controls and timely project delivery are the most difficult, and therefore costly, aspects of creating a modern heating and hot water application for schools. When a project faces the kinds of limitations outlined, one answer is to make use of an external plant room to relocate essential building services, increasing the availability of valuable internal areas.

This was the route a Berkshire school recently opted for to address these challenges by sourcing an Adveco bespoke, pre-built packaged plant room, leveraging micro-cogeneration and condensing gas boilers to meet the school’s specific central heating and domestic hot water (DHW) needs.

As a packaged plant room is prefabricated off-site, it arrives with all appliances, controls and ancillaries pre-fitted and connected, ready to be sited immediately upon delivery. This dramatically accelerates overall project delivery timescales; minimises on-site labour demands and considerably reduces costs.

Sized, designed, and manufactured to order by Adveco, the Berkshire school project featured a single, large 7m x 4m reinforced GRP weatherproof enclosure with a steel base and checkerplate floor suitable for placement on top of the school building’s flat roof space.

TOTEM T10 micro-CHP (Combined Heat and Power)Incorporating a 10 kWe / 22 kWTh TOTEM T10 micro-CHP and, a full cascade of condensing boilers, 2000 litre carbon steel buffer vessel, expansion tank, pumps, controls, meters and pipework. All delivered pre-built and ready to be installed within days. The plant room just requires flues, external pipework and final electrical connections to be completed.

To achieve the best results, the decision-making relating to heating and DHW systems needs to be finalised early on to allow for the increased lead-in times. Adveco’s design engineers guided the school through this process to ensure a highly resilient system was fully defined for before construction began.

Packaged plant roomAs well as maximising space, packaged plant rooms provide a proven method to secure new, highly efficient and cost-effective to operate hot water, heating and low carbon systems. Schools can opt for a choice of gas, electric or renewables, such as Air Source Heat Pumps, or these can be combined into a single packaged hybrid system. While delivering rapid return on investment and lower ongoing operating costs, such hybrid systems can also help provide a timely answer to meeting new sustainability targets across school estates.

Discover more about Adveco packaged plant rooms.

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