Over 430 representatives from public bodies and government departments today attended the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) public sector conference at UCD in an effort to advance energy efficiency.
This is the second national conference focussed specifically on driving the public sector towards the Government’s energy efficiency target of 33% by 2020. The most recent annual report on the energy efficiency performance of public bodies published by SEAI last year showed that the public sector saved €133 million through improved energy efficiency in 2016 and is now 20% more energy efficient.
The public sector improved its energy efficiency by 20% equating to €133 million in avoided energy spend as well as 520,000 fewer tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2016 alone. Energy efficiency in the public sector is hugely important in terms of overall climate action and public sector reform. So as public servants we have to do more and to show tangible leadership in energy efficiency. The public sector spends €1,000 per minute on energy every year. This is the public’s money so we must be accountable and demonstrate leadership with action. The financial savings that each public body and department makes through cutting energy use can now be reinvested into vital public services within their own sector. This is a government decision and my message and incentive to public bodies is to cut your energy use so you can ‘keep the change’ and reinvest this money achieved through energy savings into much needed frontline public services.
Attendees at the conference learned about best practice in energy efficiency action including progressing project pipelines, advanced building and facility upgrades, energy awareness and behaviour change, and structured energy management, all of which can deliver energy and cost savings to the sector. 22 public bodies are already certified to the international standard on energy management, ISO 50001, and are excelling in energy efficiency. These include:
• Dublin Airport Authority which has made 44% energy savings by embedding efficiency in procurement and design stages;
• Cork Institute of Technology has made 37% energy efficiency savings through lighting and pump upgrades and three combined heat and power installations;
• Galway County Council is making significant savings in key buildings like the City Fire Station and County Hall following upgrades saving over €6,000 per annum;
• Dublin Port has made 18% energy efficiency savings following upgrades to lighting, solar PV and metering;
• Waterford IT has secured ISO50001 certification for its five campuses and installed 40kW of solar PV on site.
We need a focused effort from all public organisations to reach our 33% energy saving target by 2020 and this conference aims to assist them on their journey. At SEAI, we are working across the entire public sector to help make it more energy efficient and to use cleaner energy. Through this activity, hundreds of millions of euro can ultimately be re-directed to important front-line public services and capital infrastructure. In the last year, SEAI has invested €5.75million of government money in building and school upgrades, primarily through collaborations with OPW and Department of Education and Skills. We hope to extend this model to other interested public bodies, creating a strong project pipeline and evidence base, as we continue to assist organisations as they progress energy saving projects in the coming year.
The public sector spent €536 million on energy in 2016 and accounts for 6% of Ireland’s overall primary energy use. The Government is committed to achieving the 33% target as detailed in the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan and the Public Sector Energy Strategy.Download the 2017 Annual Report on Public Sector Energy Efficiency Performance