Sustainability Contestable Fund

Key information, criteria, guidelines, forms and deadlines for the fund.

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  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Administrators
  • Suppliers

The Sustainability Contestable Fund (the Fund) supports state schools to reduce their environmental impact and improve their operational efficiency. Applicants must follow the guidelines and meet the criteria in order to prepare a project proposal with greater chance of success. If a school is awarded funding, there are required governance responsibilities detailed below. The second and final round of the fund closed in September 2020.


The Fund was used to support projects to achieve one or more of the following outcomes: 

  • Replacement or conversion of systems that require non-renewable energy sources (e.g. coal boilers)
    Reduction in energy usage

  • Reduction of waste and/or increased recycling

  • Reduction of carbon (CO2) emissions using new technology, infrastructure or energy sources

  • Increased energy resilience, especially for rural and remote schools

  • Other property projects that have a positive environmental impact.

It is recognised that these projects offer educational and additional learning opportunities for students. With supporting information and curriculum materials, these projects can also highlight affirmative action and decrease climate change anxiety amongst students. 

More about the Fund

More about the Fund

The Fund has $5 million in departmental capital funding to be distributed to schools across two application rounds.

The Fund will operate as below:

Financial YearPhaseAction
2019/20 and 2020/21  Application process, budget allocation and projects’ completion phase The Ministry, assisted by an Assessment Panel, will make funding available to successful schools using its $5 million departmental capital allocation. Successful schools will need to complete their projects by the end of June 2021.
2021/22 and 2022/23 Monitoring phase  The Ministry will monitor the Fund’s implementation and measure its results from July 2021 to July 2023.
Funding rounds

Funding rounds

First round

The first round of funding opened on 6th November 2019 and closed on 31st January 2020. The first round resulted in 365 applications, 53 of which were successful.

List of successful applications for SCF - Round 1 [PDF, 218 KB]

Second round

The second (and final) round opened on 22 June 2020 and closed on the 3rd of August. There were 413 number of applications, 41 of which were successful.

List of successful applications for SCF – Round 2 [PDF, 172 KB]

No further funding round is planned.

Funding not guaranteed

Funding not guaranteed

While we truly appreciate the time and effort you put into your application, please be aware that the selection process is highly competitive and even high quality applications might not be selected for funding given the limited budget available and high number of applications.

Funding decision

Funding decision

Recommendations will be made by the Fund’s Assessment Panel made up of representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and the New Zealand School Trustees Association. These recommendations will be confirmed by a member of the Ministry’s Leadership Team. The Ministry does not endorse any particular supplier for any project funded by the Sustainability Contestable Fund.

Who can apply for the Fund?

Who can apply for the Fund?

Only state schools can apply for the Fund because it is funded from departmental capital which can only be spent on Crown-owned assets.

A school can apply to the second funding round if they are not successful in the first round.

What projects could be funded?

What projects could be funded?

The Fund will invest in assets that have a minimum value of $5,000. The value of most projects is expected to fall in the range of $5,000-$100,000. Projects that are valued at over $100,000 may be funded, but will need to provide a more compelling case than projects of lower value. 

Type of assets/projects that could be funded include:

  • Diesel, coal or gas boiler replacement
  • Replacement of inefficient heating systems
  • Power infrastructure upgrades to allow use of plant/appliances that use renewable energy sources
  • Recycling and/or waste reduction initiatives that require a capital investment such as the development of composting infrastructure
  • Water savings measures such as rainwater collection and low flow plumbing fittings
  • Solar electricity (photovoltaic) installations (with or without batteries)
  • Other property upgrades that will increase energy efficiency and resilience, reduce energy loss, reduce waste or reduce carbon emissions.
What projects cannot be funded?

What projects cannot be funded?

  • Any project that does not create an asset worth at least $5,000
  • Projects which can be funded through other Ministry’s initiatives or funding such as 5YA for a P1/P2 project (e.g. a double glazing project which is addressing a P1/P2 health and safety issue), School Investment Package (SIP), or the Improving classrooms in small or remote schools programme
  • Training and/or changes to operating practices, where no asset is created
  • Projects which are already underway or due to begin before the application round closes
  • Electric/hybrid vehicle purchase and/or EV charging infrastructure
  • Beautification projects
  • Projects related to the external environment, planting, landscaping etc.
  • Furniture and equipment
  • Projects that relate to buildings that are due for redevelopment or demolition.
Requirements for successful schools

Requirements for successful schools

Complete 5YA amendment

Successful schools will be required to complete a 10YPP amendment and/or 5YA variation to include the fund project into their 10-year property plan or 5YA agreement, if the project is not an existing one.

Compliance with Ministry’s standard procurement rules

If an application is successful, schools will have to comply with standard all-of-government procurement rules. For more information on the Ministry's procurement requirements, refer to the School property procurement framework.

School property procurement framework

Complete standard project management reports

Successful schools will be required to:

  • Carry out standard property project management governance and reporting, including providing the appropriate paperwork to their local office. This is required so formal project approval can be granted
  • Project management governance - Role of the board of trustees in school property projects
  • Appropriate paperwork - Role of the board of trustees in school property projects.

Complete regular performance reports

Successful schools will be required to provide reporting, once the project has been completed, until June 2023 with performance information about the asset funded.  More information will be provided to successful schools about these reporting requirements by the Fund’s administration team.  

Covering ongoing costs

Schools will need to use existing funding to meet any ongoing costs as a result of the project, or where the project costs run over. Schools should consider these potential costs and whether they can be met before they decide to apply.

Schools are expected to contribute resources, in the form of time, to develop the proposals, procure any services needed, and oversee implementation.

Solar energy proposals

Solar energy proposals 

We have received significant number of solar energy proposals in the first round and not all of those projects were granted funding. This is mainly because the Fund is designed to cover a range of initiatives with positive environmental outcomes and is not merely focusing on solar-related proposals.

Given the limited funding available and the competitive selection process, we encourage applications that can demonstrate tangible benefits to the curriculum in the form of innovative sustainable projects and learning opportunities.

When developing solar installation proposals, schools should ensure that the considerations provided in the Installation decision - Solar panels are referred to in their application. The application will also need to clearly outline how the proposed solar panel project will meet the Fund’s outcomes (As outlined in earlier sections of this page).

Installation decision - Solar panels

Notification of outcomes

Notification of outcomes

First round

Applications from 53 schools were successful for the first round of the SCF.

Second round

Applications from 41 schools were successful for the second round of the SCF.

List of successful applications for SCF- Round 1 [PDF, 218 KB]

List of successful applications for SCF – Round 2 [PDF, 172 KB]

The Ministry will contact all schools that applied for the second round directly via email and will provide them with the outcomes of their application and information on their performance reporting requirements.

Frequently asked questions

The following frequently asked questions relate to the Sustainability Contestable Fund application process. If you have any further questions please contact the Fund’s mailbox at or your Ministry Property Advisor. 


When do applications close?

Applications for the first and second (Final) rounds of funding are now closed.  No further round of funding is planned.

Can I request my preferred supplier to carry out the work?

Any price provided (by quote or estimate) as part of the application may be used to set the amount of funding granted. 

Have any projects had priority for the funding?

Applications were considered on their specific merit, but a school’s geographical isolation was also taken into account. Projects less than $50,000 were also encouraged as they provide opportunity for more projects to be funded.

How will I know if I’ve been successful or not?

All applicants, whether successful or unsuccessful, will be notified by email after the Assessment Panel has made its funding recommendations and these have been approved by the Ministry.

Is there an appeals process if an application does not get funded in full or in part?

No. All decisions are final, there is no appeals process.

What are the next steps for successful schools?

Approved funding will be allocated to successful schools by the Ministry. Schools will need to comply with usual all-of-government procurement rules and project management processes. The Ministry will contact successful schools directly via email. This will include guidance on how to proceed with delivering their projects and information on their performance reporting requirements.

If schools have difficulty delivering the project or meeting their performance reporting requirements, they should contact the Fund mailbox at

Budgeting & Cost Estimates

How much funding is available to successful projects per annum?

$2.5 million was allocated for each of the Fund’s funding rounds. 

Procurement process for school property projects - government procurement rules

Does the funding provided cover the project’s contingency budget and Project Manager Fees?

Yes. The funding applied for should have included the project’s contingency and any fees including those for Project Managers. No further funding will be provided towards the project beyond the initial application and grant of funding.

Who is responsible for meeting any ongoing costs associated with the project?

Any ongoing or incidental costs must be paid by the school. This includes where existing infrastructure is not suitable for the proposed project. Where a high likelihood of this occurring is identified, schools should have included what steps they have taken to investigate or prevent this, as part of their application.

Ownership of assets

Who will have ownership of the asset once completed?

The Ministry will retain complete ownership of any asset(s) created. Schools will be responsible for any ongoing maintenance, servicing costs, or costs associated with life cycle replacement.

More information

Who should we contact for information not covered by the Fund webpage or FAQs?

Please contact your Ministry Property Advisor or the Fund’s mailbox at

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