In 2009, when Government first set the national energy efficiency target of 20% by 2020, it decided that the public sector should provide leadership on energy efficiency for the whole of our economy and society. This is why the public service was assigned a more challenging target of 33% energy efficiency improvement. The policy context for this is outlined in Chapter 2 of the Public Sector Energy Efficiency Strategy.
The Strategy sets out a clear policy direction for public sector action on climate action through energy efficiency and sustainable energy management whilst contributing to public sector reform.
Outlined in the Strategy are new actions to complement the existing suite of support and regulatory measures for public sector energy efficiency already in place since 2009. The Strategy identifies where most potential exists for further energy efficiency gains across the public sector in areas such as the built environment, public lighting, transport and water services (Chapter 3). It also outlines the technical guidance, financial supports and governance structures which will assist public sector bodies to further understand their energy use, identify cost effective energy efficiency projects and develop robust project business cases to allow the establishment of a strong project pipeline and coordinated government decision making on investment. To assist public bodies and provide oversight of the implementation of the Strategy, a Steering Group will be established chaired by DCCAE and consisting of officials from the Department of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government (DHPCLG), Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport (DTTAS), the OPW, the SEAI and the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).
The Strategy recognises that simply identifying actions is not enough. Taking action requires leadership and accountability from senior managers akin to what is already required in areas such as performance management and governance. That is the rationale for the establishment of a new Governance structure (Chapter 4).
While each public body must take responsibility for managing its own energy, its parent Department will have an oversight and leadership role for ensuring that the bodies under their aegis, i.e. their ‘group’, engage in structured energy management. This will have a number of advantages:
Creating accountability, as Departments will have to report to government annually;
Forming a coherent view of energy saving potential across all 350 public bodies;
Allowing more flexibility in strategic decisions to be made on where best to concentrate effort within a Department’s ‘group’ – not all bodies will be able to make 33% energy savings, but some will be able to do better than 33%.
As part of the governance structure, each public sector body is required to designate a senior manager (anticipated to be Assistant Secretary level in Government departments) with decision making powers on finance, personnel and facilities, as Energy Performance Officers (EPO’s). Each body’s EPO will be responsible for providing leadership on structured energy management in their respective organisation. In addition, EPO’s in government departments will provide oversight of progress by the bodies in their ‘group’, and report to Government on strategic challenges faced, and progress made.