February 13th 2024

Low Carbon Skills Fund: what you need to know before applying

Low Carbon Skills Fund: what you need to know before applying

More than 300,000 individual properties are covered by the UK Public Sector. With these buildings accounting for around 2% of the UK’s total emissions, the government introduced a target of reducing emissions in public sector buildings by 75% in 2037 (against a 2017 baseline). To help public sector organisations on the route to reduced emissions, the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) established the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund.

What is the Low Carbon Skills Fund?

Most of the buildings in the public sector still rely on fossil-fuel based heating systems, with expert skills needed to identify and plan how these systems can be replaced. The Low Carbon Skills Fund (LCSF) scheme provides grants to eligible public sector bodies to access this specialised advice and the expert skills required to develop a robust heat decarbonisation plan. The scheme allows public sector bodies to strategically prepare for future decarbonisation options.

By developing a heat decarbonisation plan, organisations can create detailed project proposals to support any future funding applications for capital decarbonisation measures, such as the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS). This funding is delivered by Salix Finance, with up to £81million of grant funding provided across the previous Low Carbon Skills Fund phases. 

Low Carbon Skills Fund Phase 4

The most recent phase of LCSF, Phase 4, introduced three different options of funding for projects:

  • Funding to develop or improve a heat decarbonisation plan, incorporating any output outlined in the scheme criteria
  • Develop standalone detailed design(s) from pre-existing, up-to-date heat decarbonisation plan(s) to reach at least RIBA stage 3
  • A combination of the above two options

Previously, applicants were not able to use the funding from this scheme to develop standalone detailed designs. This was implemented to accommodate organisations that are also preparing to complete detailed designs for the next stage of PSDS.

LCSF Phase 4 also introduced new grant value caps to ensure that the available funding is split across a range of projects, whilst also reflecting that the costs incurred from heat decarbonisation plans can vary significantly. These caps included an overall grant value cap of £1,000,000, with funding being divided across three grant value ranges:

  • 34% of funding for projects up to £100,000 
  • 38% of funding for projects between £100,001 and £500,000
  • 28% of funding for projects between £500,001 and £1,000,000

Assisting you with the next phase of LCSF

With Phase 5 of the Low Carbon Skills Fund expected to open in Spring 2024, now is the time to start your LCSF application to help decarbonise your buildings or estate. Salix, the delivery partners for LCSF and other public sector funding schemes, now recommend energy modelling to support your application. IES are uniquely positioned to help you with your applications, by forming strategic partnerships with some of our existing clients to deliver a streamlined end-to-end process. This process is a fully compliant procurement route, allowing you to quickly award work once funding has been secured, to save time in creating your detailed designs for the next phase of PSDS. 

IES’ expert consultants can help you develop a Heat Decarbonisation Plan (HDP) through the use of our physics-based digital twin technology. Our expert consultants can help determine what decarbonisation options are best for your building or estate, by simulating and analysing each option against key performance indicators. These energy models, powered by IES’ tried-and-tested APACHE dynamic simulation engine, can help de-risk the investment in decarbonisation by highlighting the associated energy, carbon and cost estimates with each option. By calibrating these energy models against actual operational data from your building, a performance digital twin can be created to ensure the optimal building performance can be achieved at all stages of the building’s lifecycle. 

Once IES’ process to support your application has been completed, a live digital twin asset will be transferred over to you, along with an associated net zero pathway. These live assets can be utilised throughout the whole building lifecycle, and can be used to conduct ongoing measurement and verification (M&V) to validate the energy and cost savings predicted from detailed designs once implemented. The digital twin can be viewed in one central location on the cloud, allowing you to share, collaborate and engage all levels of project stakeholders; with ownership of the model also being able to be passed onto your preferred contractor for PSDS M&V. 

Are you considering applying for the Public Sector Low Carbon Skills Fund Phase 5? Strengthen your application with energy modelling provided by IES and partners in our streamlined end-to-end process. Join us for one of our live guidance sessions here, where we will be discussing the process and the benefits it can deliver for your application.