The government will spend £1 billion to boost energy efficiency and decarbonise heating in public sector buildings.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) unveiled the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, part of the green recovery package, yesterday. The scheme will provide grant funding for the installation of energy efficiency measures and low-carbon heating systems in non-domestic public sector buildings in England, including central government departments and their agencies, local authorities, schools and NHS Trusts.
In 2018, the public sector was responsible for 8.1 million tones of carbon dioxide emissions (MtCO2e), 2% of all carbon emissions in the UK. While emissions from the energy system and sectors like transport have been falling, emissions from the public sector have been creeping up, by 4.5% (0.3Mt) between 2017 and 2018, or 1.6% (0.1Mt) on a temperature adjusted basis.
It’s projected that the new investment in buildings will reduce emissions from the public sector by up to 0.1 million MtCO2e per year and up to 0.5MtCO2e over each of Carbon Budget 4 (limiting UK emissions to 1,950 MtCO2e between 2023 and 2027) and Carbon Budget 5 (limiting UK emissions to 1,725 MtCO2e to 2028 and 2032). The carbon savings are the equivalent of removing 45,000 cars from the road.
The scheme will also slash energy bills for the public sector, which are currently estimated at £3.4 billion a year, with the NHS alone spending £1.1 on energy annually.
Finally, installations under the scheme will support 30,000 skilled jobs in the low carbon and energy efficiency sectors, part of the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs 2020.
Annie Shepperd, chief executive of Salix Finance, which is delivering the scheme, said it will “pave the way for workers in the energy efficiency sector to see their jobs secured, and, for the country to know that public sector organisations will be leading the way in reducing the carbon footprint of the UK.”
The scheme is launching alongside the £2 billion Green Homes Grant programme, providing vouchers for the installation of energy efficiency measures and low-carbon heating systems in homes.
Meanwhile, NHS England announced yesterday that it is aiming to slash its emissions to zero by 2040, a decade before the country’s overall net-zero deadline. The NHS is currently responsible for 4% of the UK’s emissions.
As part of these decarbonisation efforts, the NHS will phase out coal boilers and spend £50 million replacing lights with more efficient LED lighting across the entire NHS estate. This will improve patient experience and comfort and save the health service £3 billion in energy bills over the next ten years.
The NHS will also pilot the world’s first zero-emissions ambulance by 2022 and make its entire fleet zero-emission by 2032.