Cambridgeshire County Council forges ahead with retrofit programme

Published: Wednesday, 6th August 2014

Cambridgeshire County Council is taking a leading role towards a more sustainable public estate in the East of England, having launched the procurement process for an Energy Services Company (ESCo).

The successful ESCo will deliver a programme of energy saving building retrofits. They will guarantee the level of energy savings for each site that goes forward into the scheme and thus offer a secure financial saving for them. Other local public sector organisations will also be able join the programme and benefit from reduced energy costs.

The schools and other public buildings that make up the initial retrofit programme are part of the MobilisingLocal Energy Investment (MLEI) project.  Supported by Intelligent Energy Europe, MLEI Cambridgeshire has been running since late 2012 and aims to increase the scale of investment into low carbon infrastructure in the County, so that it can bring real local economic benefits, carbon reductions, and help tackle energy security issues.

Ten sites have been identified for initial assessment by the successful ESCo. These include the Council’s HQ at Shire Hall, 5 secondary schools and 4 primary schools. However, since March 2014, 45 schools have registered an interest in the programme, and a further programme of sites will come forward during the next few months.

Cllr Steve Count, Leader Cambridgeshire County Council said:

"This is great news for Cambridgeshire.  Local Authorities need to operate as efficiently as possible and by putting forward our flagship building at Shire Hall, we are setting a leading example.  Other County offices, libraries and other sites will go forward in later stages and we’ve had a great response from schools wanting to assess their whole site for retrofit opportunities."

The selected ESCo will undertake detailed technical assessments at each site to identify the most appropriate energy saving and energy generation measures.  The upfront costs for installation will be supported by a loan from the County Council (or other finance source) or as part of a service agreement with the school.  This is paid back over approximately 10 years from the savings in energy bills, and revenue from government incentives to generate renewable energy onsite.  The energy performance over this period is guaranteed by the ESCo through an Energy Performance Contract, and so any risk to the school or other public building is reduced.

To make this happen, the County Council is working closely with Local Partnerships, an organisation owned by HM Treasury and the Local Government Association.  Local Partnerships role is to advise the County Council’s MLEI project team on commercial, legal and contractual aspects of securing a delivery partner via the RE:FIT  framework.

Vicky Kingston, Project Director at Local Partnerships explains how RE:FIT works:

"RE:FIT is a building retrofitting scheme to support public sector organisations to reduce their carbon footprint and subsequent energy bills.  It’s available to all public sector organisations in the UK, and streamlines the procurement process for energy services by providing pre-negotiated, EU-regulation-compliant contracts that can be used with a group of pre-qualified Energy Service Companies (ESCos)."

Sheryl French, MLEI Cambridgeshire Project Director added:

"The aim is for the successful company to help us deliver at least £5million worth of investment in Cambridgeshire schools and other public sector buildings by August 2015, and to continue investment over the next 10-15 years. So securing an ESCo marks the start of an exciting new phase for MLEI Cambridgeshire!"