Over 650 representatives from public bodies and government departments today attended the annual Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) public sector conference at UCD to advance their energy efficiency. This third national conference will focus on driving the public sector beyond the Government’s energy efficiency target of 33% by 2020.
Opening the conference today, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton T.D. said: “The public sector has made some significant improvements, but we need to do more. Since 2009, public sector bodies have avoided 3.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions worth €1 billion in energy savings.
“On aggregate, the sector is 24% more efficient in energy use overall, putting it on course to achieve the overall 33% energy efficiency target by 2020. However performances are far from even, with 10% of public bodies and 45% schools showing no improvement, while of those who have shown improvement, nearly a quarter have achieved less than a 10% improvement.
“We need to step up our ambition. We must look at what are the constraints holding some back. The public sector must lead by example, learn from the successes and help those who are struggling. We must build on the recent government decision on green procurement and limiting single use plastics.
“I look forward to working with all of you to develop new stretch targets and lead in the revolution that is required.”
The most recent annual report on the energy efficiency performance of public bodies published by SEAI in December showed that collectively the public sector saved €191 million in 2017. The report evaluated 331 public bodies and 2,279 schools, representing an annual energy spend of €608 million.
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. Twenty-five public bodies are already certified to the international standard on energy management, ISO 50001, and are excelling in energy efficiency.
Examples of recent energy projects carried out by public organisations include:
- In 2017 the Defence Forces implemented solar photovoltaic installations in Cathal Brugha Barracks and the Defence Forces Training Centre availing of onsite renewable electricity generation.
- Louth County Council availed of SEAI’s community grants in 2017 to implement energy efficiency improvements to both Dundalk Town Hall (lighting and lighting controls) and the County Hall (solar thermal).
- Maynooth University (NUIM) has implemented a campus-wide ISO 50001 energy management system as well as discrete energy efficiency projects, including external lighting and lighting control upgrades to their north campus perimeter road and a major boiler house upgrade to their southern campus.
Speaking at the conference, Jim Gannon, CEO, SEAI said:
“SEAI is working across the entire public sector to help make it more energy efficient and to use cleaner energy. Through our advisory and capital support, we are enabling the public sector to save hundreds of millions of euro. We congratulate the public sector bodies who have delivered exemplar projects to date and encourage all public bodies to come to us for support in scaling up their activities and project ambition. Together, we can deliver a more cost effective, and a more climate friendly, public service.“