Article by Dave Archer, National M&E Manager at Mitsubishi Electric
The UK has ambitious plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and both the public and private sector are backing calls for significant carbon reductions to be made within buildings in the coming years. The government has also put policies in place to support this transition towards energy efficient design, including the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS) and the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund (LCSF) – which fund public sector bodies looking to access the right skills and expertise needed to decarbonise their estates.
Both of these schemes provide a great opportunity for organisations to achieve their transition to low carbon technologies, and the funding remains heavily oversubscribed. In fact, the most recent round opened on the 15th of June and closed within 24 hours.
With the next phase of the PSDS set to open in September, it’s important that M&E contractors are prepared to support public sector organisations applying for the next round of funding, and ensure that buildings are prepared well in advance. By making sure that owners have all the necessary information to hand, M&E contractors can help public sector organisations to increase their chances of securing must-needed funding, and reap the benefits by making progress towards net-zero.
Salix Finance explained
The LCSF and PSDS were established by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the UK, with a goal of delivering just over £1.4 billion worth of grants between now and 2025.
With this funding, the government aims to help improve the energy efficiency of commercial public buildings by lowering both carbon emissions and energy bills. This will help the public sector to set an example for the future of low-carbon heating, as well as increasing wider demand for low-carbon technologies like heat pumps, and encourage more installers to learn the skills to install them.
Both schemes are managed by Salix Finance, and are extremely popular with public sector organisations. This is partially due to their broad eligibility, with the PSDS being open to all public sector bodies and their estates – including schools, emergency services and local authorities. There is also no limit on the amount of funding that can be received, meaning projects of any size could be eligible for a grant.
Supporting future applicants
Due to the scheme’s popularity, it’s important for managers of public sector buildings to ensure that they prepare well in advance of the scheme opening, and start gathering any necessary information as soon as possible. With the funding opening in September, ensuring that building owners and managers have plans in place that include renewable heating will also help to equip spaces as the heating season begins.
As with all grant scheme applications, it’s important to ensure that any calculations provided can be properly supported. Salix Funding also recommends having any relevant supporting information readily available, including evidence of operating costs, project delivery plans and heat loss calculations.
Another important factor to bear in mind when applying for Salix funding is making sure results are delivered. Applicants must have all the necessary resources and suppliers already in place prior to applying, so it’s important that contractors work with building owners to ensure that they have all the necessary information to hand several months before. This will help ensure that the project is delivered on time, and in line with the agreed plans.
Due to the scheme’s specific focus on decarbonising heating, applicants must also show that their project is adopting a ‘whole building approach’. This means that M&E contractors should ensure that any suggested measures for energy efficiency are implemented alongside the adoption of low-carbon heating technologies.
Luckily, the scheme does not adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach towards selecting the right technology for a building. This means that it’s possible to tailor the solutions depending on individual needs and specific building type, allowing contractors and building owners to consider a wide range of low-carbon technologies.
Introducing heat pump technology
Heat pumps, for example, offer an ideal solution for replacing gas and other fossil fuel boilers. High temperature heat pumps such as the Ecodan QAHV can provide hot water up to 90 degrees Celsius, making it ideal for buildings with fluctuating demand for hot water such as hospitals or university accommodation.
In the case of St Andrew’s School in Chedworth, Gloucestershire in March last year, the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme was able to provide the school with a £120,000 grant to replace an oil boiler with Ecodan air source heat pumps, helping the school to reduce its overall energy demand while also maintaining student comfort.
Heat pumps are also able to use any low-temperature heat extracted from one building in order to provide heating or hot water to another. These ambient heat loops are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to fossil fuel-based systems, and are also ideally suited to buildings with both heating and cooling requirements, for example, where there are both offices and accommodation in mixed-use buildings.
By removing barriers to low carbon technology, the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme offers the opportunity for the public sector to implement real, energy efficient solutions and reach net zero. By helping the public sector prepare well in advance, M&E contractors can ensure that they are ready for the next upcoming round of Salix funding, enabling the sector to deploy low carbon technology for years to come.