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Barker appointed to DfE’s Net Zero Accelerator Programme

Barker are delighted to announce their appointment by LocatED, on behalf of Department for Education (DfE), to deliver a feasibility study as part of its Net Zero Accelerator programme.


The education estate currently represents 37% of public sector building carbon dioxide emissions. However, the sector’s ability to tackle the climate crisis is being hampered by complexity, regulation and lack of finance as highlighted by Schools Week. In their report published in June, the National Audit Office (NAO) cast doubt on whether current carbon reduction targets would be met. The spending watchdog also call for a significant scaling up and speeding up of programmes to help schools cut carbon emissions.

What is the Net Zero Accelerator programme?

Commissioned by DfE, the Net Zero Accelerator (NZA) is a new programme to deliver the scale of decarbonisation across the education estate required to make a proportionate contribution to the government’s net zero targets.

The aim of the programme is to provide an end-to-end solution for schools, trusts and local authorities to identify opportunities for carbon reduction, prioritise projects and fund and deliver programmes at scale and pace.

The feasibility study, which started on 6 November will look at options for a range of decarbonisation interventions and link these with suitable funding streams, procurement routes and delivery frameworks to enable organisations to achieve carbon reductions and cost savings with positive returns on investment.

The Barker-led consortium is one of five deliver partners selected to by LocatED and the DfE to deliver this feasibility study. The initial findings will be completed by the end of 2023 with a report and recommendations compiled by end February 2024 and a possible pilot roll out in Spring 2024.

The Barker team

The consortium, led by Barker, is made up of industry-leading experts, each bringing a unique and education-specific insight. The core team are also existing members of the TEEAM Alliance working together to deliver the UK’s decarbonisation agenda and ensure net zero targets are met.

• Barker – Project management and design
Lloyds Bank – Funding and finance
Place Group – Procurement and project management
Caladen Consulting – Energy audits and carbon consultants
Ginger Energy – Energy procurement and account management
Ashden/Let’s Go Zero – Engagement and behavioural change

Stuart White, Managing Partner at Barker said:

“The Net Zero Accelerator programme is a huge opportunity to create a step change in the carbon reduction journey for the Education sector. To be involved in this feasibility study for the Department for Education and LocatED is a testament to our team’s commitment to shaping a sustainable future for our schools, academies and the whole country. Barker are delighted to embark on this transformative journey with our consortium team members, driving innovation and paving the way for a net-zero future in education.”

Commenting on the launch of the Net Zero Accelerator feasibility study Lara Newman, LocatED Chief Executive said:

“We are passionate about helping the DfE and, indeed, the whole country achieve Net Zero. The education estate represents 37% of all public sector building emissions. If schools and colleges are able to reduce their carbon footprint and achieve net zero, this will go a long way to meeting the government’s goal.

However, we recognise that for individual educational bodies, figuring out the right thing to do for their estate is incredibly difficult to do alone. Deciding whether to opt for air source heat pumps and solar panels or installing an electric vehicle charging station and added insulation is not an easy choice. This is why the Net Zero Accelerator is intended to lift the burden from the educational bodies of identifying what interventions will work for their buildings and how the work will be financed.”

Baroness Barran, Minister for School System and Finance commented:

“A central service to cover this important and ambitious project will be invaluable and an important step towards improving the sustainability of the education estate. It is an area that we need to develop with routes through for busy schools and colleges that are achievable and impactful. I look forward to the findings of their work in the new year.”


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