The Government is committed to ensuring that the public sector continues to play a leadership role in tackling climate change through the achievement of relevant energy efficiency and carbon emissions targets. The public sector has already made a strong contribution in this regard with the most recently published statistics showing that the sector had improved its energy efficiency by 24% to end 2017. Cumulatively, the energy efficiency improvements achieved by public sector bodies have resulted in an avoided energy spend of more than €1 billion and a carbon emissions saving of over 3.5 million tonnes.
The achievements to date result from a combination of improved energy management as well as equipment and building fabric improvements. A combination of approaches will continue to be necessary in the future to meet our targets. These approaches include:
- Energy management and behavioural change;
- Natural renewal – buildings and vehicles replaced by more efficient models over time;
- Energy supply efficiency – more renewable electricity requiring less primary energy to supply the energy consumed in buildings;
- Targeted energy efficiency investment – including retrofits of buildings, fleets and facilities to reduce their energy consumption and/or increase renewable energy supply.
The National Development Plan is making significant funding available in pursuit of our national targets. This includes funding of €800 million for public building energy retrofit, along with further funding for school energy retrofits, third level building renovations, and public transport fleet replacement. The potential for this investment to be supported by non-exchequer sources of funding such as Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) will be also be explored.
My Department is providing leadership and guidance to Government departments and public sector bodies to help them to achieve their efficiency targets as part of the process of implementing the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy. This includes the SEAI engaging with Public Sector Bodies to assess the range and nature of project opportunities – including building fabric upgrades. This ongoing exercise will help to inform the assessment of the costs to achieve the targets for 2030 and beyond. It is also important to note that the achievement of public sector targets will require initiatives beyond the building stock including public transport fleets, water and waste facilities, public lighting and other energy users across the public sector.
The forthcoming Government Climate Plan will also set out further commitments for public sector bodies to demonstrate leadership in taking climate action, including a specific climate mandate for each organisation and ambitious new energy efficiency and decarbonisation targets for the sector as a whole.