Cutting costs for green energy solutions in the public sector

As we continue to navigate the nation's recovery from Covid-19, another crisis is looming over the public sector, and poses a threat like never before, warns Ranjit Singh, utilities framework sourcing manager at HealthTrust Europe.

Cutting costs for green energy solutions in the public sector

Climate change and the imminent climate crisis is now front and centre of almost all political, economic and social policy, and accelerating the path for sustainability by reducing carbon emissions to net-zero is no longer an idealistic goal; it is now an absolute necessity if we are to minimise the significant harms that face our communities otherwise.

Public sector bodies face intense pressure to act on climate pressures in a way that perhaps the private sector does not, as the wider public has expectations that their local organisations are working towards a greener future for the communities they serve. However, public sector bodies also face the twofold challenge of financing the immense response to make a difference on a public sector budget, which can often be stretched across other priorities.

Nevertheless, public sector bodies such as local government authorities and the NHS are making serious inroads to meet climate targets. With more than 230 Councils in the UK declaring a climate emergency, and the NHS pledging to achieve net-zero on carbon emissions by 2045, there is a clear recognition for the critical need for local action in tackling climate change.

The question, then, is how can public sector bodies continue on the path to reach net-zero and cut carbon emissions in a way that is economically viable but also highly effective? While the answer may seem to lie in large-scale, radical changes, in fact, the opposite is true. Focusing on and investing in small changes will make the biggest difference to long-term carbon cutting, and fundamentally, can be much more budget friendly.

Whereas sustainable options for many products and services have been historically viewed as more expensive options, latest innovations and new technologies are unlocking truly affordable choices for organisations in the public sector to enhance their green credentials. No truer is this than in green energy and utilities solutions, which are now more efficient and easier than ever to access. From LED lighting to carbon compliance monitoring, many public sector organisations are put off by perceptions of high costs, yet this narrative overlooks the long-term cost savings that can be made through initial investments.  

One of the most effective ways for public sector bodies to access these high-value goods and services to unlock green energy and utilities, lies within developing accessible procurement frameworks. Flexibility is the key – allowing public sector bodies more flexibility in selecting the solutions that fit their organisation best will encourage more bodies to make the switch to greener alternatives. Increased flexibility also means the public sector can be more receptive to change and innovation, able to access the most energy-efficient solutions as soon as they are available – putting the public sector at the forefront of cutting-edge green technology.

Securing contracts from sector-leading suppliers can also protect public sector bodies from increasing prices as we face resource scarcity. Whilst greener options are the ideal solution, the public sector is still heavily dependent on electric and oil to support communities, and it is vital that we manage costs during the switch to greener energy and utilities to ensure there is enough funding available to invest in green solutions. As the UK sees wholesale electricity and gas prices at a record-high since 2008, the public sector should seek to secure contracts with reliable suppliers offering competitive pricing to provide confidence and stability across operations.

Investing in green products will not only enhance energy efficiency, but will also generate significant monetary savings, enabling local authorities to focus on other urgent priorities. Financial savings like these are crucial in giving public sector bodies the opportunity to invest elsewhere. As the public sector faces increasing public scrutiny – exacerbated by the economic hardship of Covid-19 – the public sector is under pressure to deliver excellent value for money for the taxpayer. It has never been more important for public sector bodies to demonstrate their willingness to make savings where possible, while at the same time ensure the continued delivery of exceptional services for their communities.  

As the UK drives towards its mission of achieving net-zero, it has never been more important for the public sector to perform its own part in the green revolution. Innovative solutions and cutting-edge technologies can play a leading role in helping the public sector not only to meet their goals in reducing carbon output and minimising their impact on the environment, but also to minimise costs.

Ranjit Singh, utilities framework sourcing manager at HealthTrust Europe

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