Government upgrades public buildings to save £650m per year

Hundreds of public buildings will cut their use of expensive fossil fuels and save millions of pounds on bills, thanks to £553 million in government funding for affordable, low carbon heating and energy efficiency upgrades.

These upgraded heating systems, powered by cleaner, cheaper, renewable energy, will reduce the use of fossil fuels exposed to volatile global energy prices, support thousands of jobs, and also save taxpayers money as these measures will ensure public buildings are cheaper to heat.

Local authorities, public bodies and taxpayers are expected to save an average of £650 million per year on energy bills over the next 15 years.

Funding through the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme will see clean, efficient heat pumps installed and energy efficiency upgrades (such as insulation), fitted in 160 public sector organisations such as Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Manchester Fire and Rescue and historic venues at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Upgrades are already underway with grants awarded to 381 public sector organisations across England under first two phases of the Government’s scheme, with Phase 1 alone supporting up to 30,000 clean jobs in the clean heating and energy efficiency sectors.

Business and Energy Minister Lord Callanan, said: “Using cleaner technology to heat our civic buildings is helping to shield public sector organisations from costly fossil fuels, especially at a time of high global prices.

“This funding will bring significant savings for taxpayers of well over half a billion pounds each year by making public buildings cheaper to run, heat and cool, whilst supporting economic growth and jobs across the country.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Here in Greater Manchester we know we need to be taking bold and meaningful steps at every level to become carbon neutral by 2038. By moving towards a greener economy we can foster new skills and create thousands of good jobs, powering our recovery from the pandemic and charting a course to a more sustainable, low-carbon future.

“The £100m funding that we’ve been awarded so far is helping our public sector to lead the way in this effort, showing exactly what we can achieve with the right investment and a collaborative approach. We’ve retrofitted more than 130 public buildings and cut more than 8,000 tonnes of harmful emissions, at the same time as supporting and safeguarding almost 2,000 jobs in our local economy.

“We hope this is just the start of a renewed effort to work together at national and local level, helping us to go further and faster in cutting emissions and tackling the climate emergency.”

Chief Executive of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Sarah-Jane Marsh, said: “Birmingham Women’s and Children’s has been committed to reducing our carbon output for many years. But the scale of what was needed and the money involved, has made it near impossible.

“Anyone who has been to either of our hospitals will have experienced the extreme temperatures. The 60-year-old Women’s Hospital is like a greenhouse in the summer and a freezer in the winter. The Grade II listed Children’s Hospital, with its 125-year-old single glazed windows, faces many of the same challenges.

“Now, thanks to this generous £53 million BEIS grant, which complements our future planning and Big Build ambitions, we can make much needed improvements, not only for our women, children, young people and families, but also the environment we all depend on.”

Peter Alesbury, Director of Estates at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said: “The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is committed to taking urgent steps to tackle climate change and achieve the goals set out in our Sustainability Strategy, including to become Climate Positive by 2030. This funding will help deliver significant carbon savings and take us a step closer to achieving this target.”

The scheme will be delivered on behalf of the government by Salix Finance.

Salix Finance chief executive Annie Shepperd OBE, said: “This investment is transforming public buildings, driving down their carbon footprint and improving the experience of their users, including school pupils, patients and visitors to hospitals, and all those people using libraries and leisure centres.

“Salix staff are proud to be working as the delivery partner for this scheme and seeing the impact it’s having.”

Sign up for our essential
newsletter service.

Enter your details here.