• Caoilin Rafferty
  • 3 min read

Public bodies and government departments have saved over €1 billion on energy spend


This year we saw over 600 public representatives attend the annual SEAI Public Sector conference in UCD. This impressive turn out demonstrates the public sectors commitment to their energy efficiency goals.

The main reason we have these gatherings is to share energy efficiency best practice and success stories within the sector. Each year public sector bodies report to SEAI on their annual energy usage. This helps us determine the progress we are making within the public sector in relation to energy efficiency and the areas we need to focus on.

Public bodies and government departments have saved over €1 billion on energy spend and avoided 3.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions since 2009 making them 24% more energy efficient today.

This year our focus at the conference  was on driving the public sector beyond the Government’s energy efficiency target of 33% by 2020. The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton attended along with invited guest speakers. The Minister acknowledged the significant improvements we have seen in the public sector so far but noted that we still have more to do.

For example, 10% of public bodies and 45% of schools are showing no improvement and  of those who have shown improvement; nearly a quarter have achieved less than a 10% improvement.

The Conference gave SEAI the opportunity to talk to public body managers face to face and better understand what constraints are holding teams back. We held a number of smaller workshops where attendees learned about best practice in energy efficiency action including progressing project pipelines, advanced building and facility upgrades, energy awareness and behaviour change.

We also offered advice on how to implement structured energy management, all of which can deliver energy and cost savings to the sector. So far twenty-five public bodies are already certified to the international standard on energy management, ISO 50001, and are excelling in energy efficiency.


Recent energy projects carried out by public sector

Some great examples of recent energy projects carried out by public sector include one by the Defence Forces. In 2017, they installed solar photovoltaic panels in the Cathal Brugha Barracks and the Defence Forces Training Centre. This enables them to benefit from onsite renewable electricity generation on campus.

Maynooth University also implemented a campus-wide ISO 50001 energy management system. They installed external lighting and lighting control upgrades to their north campus perimeter road and upgraded their boiler house to their southern campus.

Through the SEAI capital support programme, we are enabling the public sector to save money and to achieve its targets. We encourage all public bodies to come to us for support with their energy plans.

If you want to learn more about energy efficiency or lighting in the public sector - The SEAI Energy Show is taking place on the 27-28 March 2019 at the RDS, Dublin.