Decarbonisation Framework

Decarbonisation Framework

Decarbonisation in the context of the UK public sector refers to the process of reducing or eliminating carbon dioxide emissions associated with public services and operations. This effort is part of the UK’s broader strategy to combat climate change and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Successful decarbonisation involves a range of initiatives and benefits, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency in public buildings (which leads to cost savings), adopting electric vehicles for public transportation and government fleets, and promoting sustainable building services and practices across all levels of public administration.

Retrofitting in the UK public sector involves upgrading existing buildings, infrastructure, and systems to make them more energy-efficient and less carbon-intensive, helping both current and future generations. Social value is important to us, and we’ve contributed £3 million towards decarbonisation investment.

This can include installing better insulation, replacing old heating and cooling systems with more efficient technologies, upgrading lighting to LED, and incorporating smart energy management systems. The goal of retrofitting is to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, thereby contributing to the decarbonisation targets.


How Are They Linked – Decarbonisation and Retrofit?

Decarbonisation and retrofitting are interconnected strategies that play critical roles in reducing carbon emissions and promoting sustainability, especially within built environments like those managed by the public sector. Here’s how they are connected:

  1. Energy Efficiency through Retrofitting: Retrofitting buildings and infrastructure often focuses on enhancing energy efficiency. This can include upgrading heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC), installing better insulation, or replacing older lighting with energy-efficient LED bulbs. These upgrades significantly reduce the energy consumption of a building, which in turn decreases the carbon emissions associated with its operation.
  2. Transition to Low-Carbon Technologies: Retrofitting is not only about upgrading what exists but also integrating new technologies that support decarbonisation. For instance, retrofitting might involve the installation of solar panels or the integration of heat pumps, which replace fossil fuel-based heating systems. These technologies are integral to reducing dependency on carbon-intensive energy sources.
  3. Reducing Operational Carbon Emissions: The primary goal of decarbonisation is to cut down on carbon emissions. Retrofitting facilitates this by improving the energy performance of buildings, thereby directly contributing to lower carbon emissions. By retrofitting existing structures, the public sector can ensure that facilities remain useful and functional without contributing excessively to carbon output.
  4. Cost and Resource Efficiency: Retrofitting helps in making the best use of existing structures and extends their lifespan, which supports sustainability goals by minimising the resources and emissions involved in constructing new buildings. This efficiency in resource utilisation is a crucial aspect of decarbonisation, as it prevents unnecessary consumption and waste.

In essence, retrofitting is a means through which the goals of decarbonisation can be achieved. By updating and adapting existing public sector assets to be more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, retrofitting directly contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions, aligning with the broader objectives of decarbonisation.



The Paris Climate Accord, adopted in 2015, is an international agreement aimed at combatting climate change and its impacts. Its central goal is to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Here’s how the actions related to decarbonisation and retrofitting in the public sector link to the objectives of the Paris Climate Accord:

  1. Carbon Emission Reductions

    Decarbonisation directly addresses the core aim of the Paris Accord by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Public sector initiatives to decarbonise, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources or implementing energy-efficient practices, contribute significantly to national and global efforts to meet emission reduction targets.

  2. Energy Efficiency Improvements

    Retrofitting public buildings and infrastructure to be more energy-efficient helps in reducing overall energy consumption, which is a key factor in minimising carbon footprints. This aligns with the Paris Accord’s emphasis on sustainable development and improved energy efficiency as critical elements in combating climate change.

  3. Leadership and Commitment

    By actively pursuing decarbonisation and retrofitting, the UK public sector demonstrates leadership and commitment to the international community. This sets an example and encourages other nations to undertake similar initiatives, fostering a collaborative approach to meet the Paris Accord’s objectives.

  4. Adaptation and Resilience

    Retrofitting also involves adapting existing infrastructure to be more resilient against climate-related impacts. This part of the effort aligns with the Paris Accord’s goals to enhance adaptive capacity and strengthen resilience, helping communities adjust to the adverse impacts of climate change.

  5. Long-term Strategies

    Both decarbonisation and retrofitting are integral to the long-term strategies that countries need to implement to meet the aspirations of the Paris Accord. These actions are part of broader sustainability and climate action plans that countries, including the UK, develop to detail how they will achieve their commitments under the accord.

In summary, by investing in decarbonisation and retrofitting, the UK public sector not only moves towards meeting its own carbon reduction targets but also contributes to the global effort to fulfil the ambitions of the Paris Climate Accord.

These actions help mitigate climate change and promote a sustainable future, aligning closely with the international commitment to environmental stewardship and collective action.

UK Government Strategies

The UK government has implemented several strategies to ensure that decarbonisation projects are effectively carried out within the public sector. These strategies are designed to integrate sustainability into the core of public operations, aiming to meet national climate goals and commitments under international agreements like the Paris Climate Accord. Here are some key strategies:

The UK has enshrined its climate targets into law with the Climate Change Act, which was updated to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050. This act serves as the legislative backbone for all decarbonisation efforts. Specific strategies, such as the Clean Growth Strategy and the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), directly support public sector initiatives by promoting energy efficiency and the reduction of carbon emissions.
This scheme provides funding to public sector organisations to implement energy efficiency measures and low-carbon heating solutions. It is part of the broader effort to reduce carbon emissions from public sector buildings and operations.
The UK government operates a system of carbon budgeting, which legally limits the amount of greenhouse gases the UK can emit over 5-year periods. These budgets are a crucial tool for planning and ensuring compliance with the net-zero target.
The government has also prioritised green procurement policies, requiring that public sector procurements consider environmental impacts and favour products and services that are less damaging to the environment. This approach encourages the adoption of green technologies and sustainable practices within public sector projects.
Updated building regulations emphasise sustainability and energy efficiency. These regulations mandate that new builds and major renovations meet high standards of energy efficiency, which naturally leads to greater emphasis on retrofitting and decarbonisation in public sector buildings.

What Types of Projects Are Considered Decarbonisation and Retrofit?

In the UK public sector, a variety of projects can be categorised under decarbonisation and retrofitting initiatives. These projects are designed to reduce carbon emissions and enhance energy efficiency across public buildings, infrastructure, and services. Here are some examples of such projects:


Building Retrofits:

  • Insulation Improvements: Adding or improving insulation in walls, roofs, and floors to reduce heat loss and energy consumption.
  • Window Upgrades: Replacing old, inefficient windows with double or triple-glazed units to improve thermal efficiency.
  • HVAC System Upgrades: Installing modern, energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to replace outdated and energy-intensive ones.
  • Lighting Overhauls: Switching to LED lighting from older, less energy-efficient lighting technologies.

Renewable Energy Installations:

  • Solar Panels: Implementing photovoltaic systems on public buildings to generate clean electricity.
  • Wind Turbines: Installing small or medium-scale wind turbines at suitable public sites.
  • Biomass Heating Systems: Using sustainable biomass materials for heating to replace fossil fuel-based heating systems.

Transportation Projects:

  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Fleets: Transitioning public service and transport fleets to electric vehicles.
  • EV Charging Infrastructure: Building the necessary infrastructure to support electric vehicles, including charging stations.

Smart Energy Systems:

  • Energy Management Systems: Installing advanced systems for monitoring and managing energy use more efficiently across public sector properties.
  • Smart Grid Technologies: Implementing smart grid solutions to better manage electricity distribution and consumption.

Heat Decarbonisation:

  • Heat Pumps: Installing air source, ground source, or water source heat pumps to provide more sustainable heating solutions.
  • District Heating Projects: Developing community-scale heating solutions that utilise centralised renewable energy sources to provide heat to multiple buildings.

These projects not only help reduce carbon emissions but also improve the overall sustainability and efficiency of public sector operations.

Facts and Figures

Let’s take a look at some key facts and figures to be aware of.

UK’s Net Zero Commitments

Progress and Key Figures

Decarbonisation and Retrofit Initiatives

  • Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme: Launched in 2020, this scheme has allocated £1 billion for public sector bodies to fund energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation measures. This includes projects like insulation, energy-efficient lighting, and installation of heat pumps.

Challenges and Observations

Long-term Strategy

  • Building Regulations: Recent updates to the UK building regulations emphasise higher energy efficiency standards to ensure that new homes are future-proofed with low-carbon heating and high levels of energy efficiency.
  • Local Authority Empowerment: Local governments have been empowered through funding and regulatory support to undertake their own decarbonisation projects, which is critical for reaching the diverse and localised needs across the UK.

Procure Partnerships Framework’s Project Experience and Case Studies

Hertfordshire Partnership NHS
Hertfordshire Community Healthcare NHS
Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital
Northern Care Alliance
Manchester Metropolitan University
Teeside University

Download A Procure Partnerships Framework User Guide

Download A Procure Partnerships Framework User Guide

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Having undertaken a two-stage mini competition via Procure Partnerships within 22-23, I found the process to be very flexible and the framework representatives very supportive and responsive. The two-stage approach worked very well for a complex, high-specification build without a specification/level of detail and the available suppliers within the region/value band submitted robust bids. Capital Procurement Manager, Gloucestershire Shared Service For NHS
  • Manchester Metropolitan University have successfully procured a number of contractors and professional services providers through the Procure Partnership framework agreements for some of our high profile projects, including a number of work experience opportunities for students through the Social Value commitment. Assistant Director of Procurement, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Procure Partnerships Framework has provided a flexible solution to procurement, which has enabled the University to access the right fit contractors, despite time constraints. The Framework team are always quick to respond to queries and advise on the most effective procurement strategy for each of our projects. Head of Procurement, Teeside University
  • Working with Procure Partnerships Framework has been great from the very beginning. They took the time to ensure that we were comfortable and up to speed with the processes of procurement at each stage, even providing us with guidance and training on what a good tender looks like. Their ongoing project delivery support ensured a robust tender list of quality contractors and allowed us to swiftly make appointments that meet our financial regulations. Head of Department: Projects, Bradford College
  • I have been using Procure Partnerships Framework on a number of key construction projects. Procure Partnerships have been responsive, proactive and focused on delivering for the client. The framework encompasses a wide range of construction disciplines, and their client relationship management is outstanding. Procurement Lead, Basildon Borough Council