Learn about the public sector partnerships established through the Pathfinder programme, their achievements and plans.

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Department of Education

The Department of Education and SEAI are working together to create an accurate and scalable model to retrofit Ireland’s schools.

Through trialling and testing energy efficiency and renewable heat technologies, the programme is paving the way to decarbonise the schools’ sector at a national scale.


  • 2017

    programme started
  • 41

    schools retrofitted by 2021
  • 2050

    target of Net Zero for 2050

Key achievement timeline

YearNo. of SchoolsStrategyGWh savingstCO2 Savings
2017 10 Capacity development and energy efficiency 1.3 263
2018 6 Capacity development and energy efficiency 1 202
2019 16 Capacity development, energy efficiency and procurement methods 2 404
2020 7 Capacity development, procurement methods and cost-optimal BER B solutions 1.4 269
2021 9 Capacity development, procurement methods, BER B solutions, deep retrofit and renewable heat ongoing ongoing
“The Pathfinder programme is a great example of how, working together on pilot energy efficiency and decarbonisation projects, we can establish approaches to ensure compatibility with school design and operational requirements on a scalable basis”.
Norma Foley, Minister for Education

Health Service Executive

In 2018 the HSE partnered with SEAI and established a joint co-funding partnership agreement to progress energy efficiency and shallow retrofit projects for the HSE. An Energy Bureau was formed to progress the energy and decarbonisation agenda under three pillars:

  • Energy Management Bureau and support of Local Energy Management Teams.
  • A programme of retrofit works comprising capital works (major and minor) and centrally coordinated retrofit projects of varying scales.
  • Energy Efficient Design (EED) approach for all new and replacement assets.
  • 2018

    HSE / SEAI Partnership to establish Energy Bureau
  • 2020

    Pathfinder programme started
  • 104

    Shallow retrofit measures across 48 buildings funded for 2021
  • 10

    buildings selected to develop Stage 1 design and feasibility studies

Deep retrofit decarbonisation pathway

Further to the revised targets outlined in the Governments Climate Action Plan, in 2021 the HSE and SEAI broadened the scope of the partnership agreement. The Pathfinder Programme seeks to develop a deep retrofit decarbonisation pathway for existing HSE facilities and identify the various challenges that may need to be overcome across the organisation.

It is the HSE and SEAI’s ambition to progress 10 no. Pilot HSE facilities through this revised approach in 2022. The pilot projects will be undertaken across existing HSE facilities. The overall objective is to quantify, assess and evaluate various technical and financial solutions for deep retrofits of healthcare settings. In addition, the pathfinder aims to further develop a strategy to deliver a large-scale renovation programme across the wiser health sector.

Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Higher Education Authority (DFHERIS & HEA)

SEAI's Pathfinder partnership with DFHERIS and the HEA began in 2020. The aim is to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in higher education institutes.


  • 2020

    Pathfinder programme started
  • 8

    buildings selected to retrofit to BER B and decarbonise
  • 6

    pathways identified to reach national 2030 targets
  • 2021

    testing of the 6 pathways

Higher education 2020 call

A competition was launched across the sector in 2020 with a target to decarbonise and retrofit buildings to a BER B. 8 projects were selected and work is ongoing in 2021.

Pathways report

A decarbonisation pathways report, commissioned by SEAI, identified 6 pathways to achieving the national 2030 targets for the sector with consideration towards the 2050 net zero ambition. The report was a result of collaborative work between the Department of Education, DFHERIS, HEA, SEAI, and higher education institutes.

Higher education 2021 call

A second competitive call was launched in 2021. This seeks to test the 6 pathways identified through the decarbonisation pathways report. Successful higher education institutes have been selected and concept designs are underway, after which site works will proceed.

Office of Public Works (OPW)

The Office of Public Works and SEAI partnered through the pathfinder programme in 2017. Working with the energy conservation unit within the OPW, SEAI supported shallow retrofit upgrades in 121 buildings across the central government building stock. In 2022, the partnership programme with the OPW will move to deep retrofit and renewable heat.


  • 2017

    Pathfinder programme started
  • 1,000

    tCO2 savings in 2019
  • 68

    Retrofit upgrades in 2018

Key achievement timeline

YearNo. of BuildingsStrategyGWh savingstCO2 Savings
2017 10 Energy efficiency 3.7 747
2018 68 Energy efficiency 9.9 1,818
2019 31 Energy efficiency 5 1,000
2020 13 Energy efficiency tbc tbc