Smart technology has the potential to hugely reduce energy bills in the public sector, but it is hampered by a lack of strategy and budget, according to research by the Carbon Trust and GE Lighting.
Most public sector bodies have started to adopt intelligent technology such as building efficiency (77%), LED lighting (57%), and water and waste technologies (24%), the survey found. However, 64% said the availability of funds was the biggest barrier to implementing smart technologies. The lack of an agreed long-term strategic plan was blamed by 34%, while the lack of procurement skills and capacity was cited by 30%.
Respondents saw the value of smart technologies to reduce carbon emissions, with 71% considering implementing more efficient heating, ventilation or air conditioning; 69% looking at installing more efficient lighting; and 66% thinking about renewable energy. The payback time required varied considerably between organisations, with 31% saying that they needed to prove a payback of less than five years, while 26% said the investment had to be recouped in less than 10 years and 8% had more than 10 years to recover the cost.
Agostino Renna, chief executive at GE Lighting, said public sector estates risked being locked into old, inefficient equipment. “Availability of capital is not the problem, but many cities are not aware of it or how to access it,” he said. Cities such as Copenhagen used special purpose vehicles to obtain finance, but these are not widespread in the UK, he said. They are also known as private finance initiatives, which have suffered a bad reputation, but could be effective if used properly, he said.
LED lighting could cut energy bills by up to 80%. Once installed, such infrastructure could be used as the platform for other smart technologies, such as sensors to carry out environmental monitoring, Renna added.