Sustainability Contestable Fund

The Sustainability Contestable Fund (the Fund) has been established to support schools to improve their operational efficiency and reduce their environmental impact.

The Fund can be used to support energy projects that achieve one or more of the following outcomes: 

  • Increased energy resilience, especially for rural and remote schools
  • Replacement of non-renewable energy sources and/or reduction in energy usage
  • Reduction of waste and/or increased recycling
  • Reduction of carbon emissions through the use of new technology, infrastructure or energy sources.

About the Fund

The Fund operates for four years. In the first two years (i.e. to 30 June 2021) the Ministry, assisted by an Assessment Panel, will make awards to successful schools using its $5 million departmental capital allocation. The Ministry will then monitor the Fund’s implementation and measure its results through to June 2023.

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.

It is recognised that visible emission reduction projects offer educational opportunities. With supportive information and curriculum materials, these projects highlight affirmative actions, and can decrease climate change anxiety amongst students.

Opening and closing dates of funding rounds

Round one of funding opened on 06 November 2019 and closes on 31 January 2020. Round two of funding will be held in 2020.

Type of assets/projects that could be funded

  • 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. Solar electricity (photovoltaic) installations (with or without batteries) in areas with low energy resilience
  • Other property upgrades that will increase energy efficiency/ reduce energy loss, increase energy resilience, reduce waste or reduce carbon emissions. These could also include water savings measures such as rainwater collection and low flow plumbing fittings.

School requirements

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 resource in the form of time to develop the proposals, procure any services needed, and oversee implementation.

Schools will be required to commit to ongoing reporting on a monthly basis, and providing ongoing performance information through to June 2023. Successful applicants will be informed of the details of this process.

Not in scope of the fund

  • Any project that does not create an asset worth at least $5,000
  • Electric/hybrid vehicle purchase and/or EV charging infrastructure
  • Beautification projects
  • Projects related to the external environment, planting, landscaping etc
  • Furniture and equipment
  • Training and/or changes to operating practices where no asset is created
  • Projects that relate to buildings that are due for redevelopment or demolition
  • Projects which are already underway or due to begin before the application round closes.

Applicant eligibility

  • Only state schools can apply to the the Fund because it is funded from departmental capital which can only be spent on Crown-owned assets
  • The Ministry invites schools to make a single application per funding round, but this may contain multiple projects. Each project will need to demonstrate it meets the criteria for funding and the Ministry may decide to only fund some of the projects in the application
  • A school can apply to the second funding round (in 2020) if they are not successful in the 2019 round
  • Schools that receive funding in the first round can apply for second round funding, but this will be lower priority than applications from schools that did not receive any funding in the first round
  • Schools cannot make joint applications.

Application requirements

  • Schools should discuss fund proposals with their property advisor in order to seek their endorsement for the proposed project(s)
  • The property advisors endorsement will be their view on whether or not the school has the capability to deliver the project on time and that the proposal meets or aligns with the property needs for the school
  • An email confirmation of the endorsement from the property advisor should accompany the application form
  • Applications must be submitted by either the school Principal or Board of Trustees Chair
  • Schools need to fill in the application form and email it along with the supporting evidence listed (refer below) to by the funding round closing date. Your school’s name must be in the subject line of the email
  • Applications will not be accepted after the deadline, but schools in this position will be able to apply for second round funding.

Contestable Fund application form [PDF, 765 KB]

Contestable Fund application form [DOCX, 59 KB]

Supporting evidence and information

The following supporting evidence and information must be included with the Fund application:

  • A description of the project including the specific assets to be created/changed
  • What the capital costs will be in the form of estimates or quotes, and what if any ongoing costs might be incurred
  • Contingency plans if project costs run over
  • Comment on the benefits associated with the proposal
  • How the proposal aligns with the Fund’s sustainability outcomes
  • Comment on how the project will be delivered and the school’s ability to procure and manage suppliers (if relevant), oversee the implementation and monitor and report on results
  • A project timeline including major milestones
  • Evidence the property advisor endorses the project. This evidence should be an email confirmation from the property advisor which should be attached to the application form
  • Evidence that the project asset(s) can be procured and completed within 12 months or timed to deliver with another planned project to achieve efficiencies 
  • (If relevant), how the investment can be linked to and benefit the delivery of the school’s curriculum
  • (If relevant), schools should also state what projects will be enabled in the 10 year property plan as a result of the Fund making available funds that are currently allocated to 5YA projects. This is also necessary where Fund proposals are combined with existing planned projects
  • (If relevant), the amount of any co-investment or leveraging by the school, third party funders and/or other supporters.

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 process, refer to the school property procurement framework.

School property procurement framework

Assessment of applications

Applications will be assessed by a panel made up of representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority and the School Trustees Association. 

The Ministry does not endorse any particular supplier for any project under the Sustainability Contestable Fund. Schools are advised to research their proposed project and discuss with their property advisor before submitting. All applications will be considered by the Assessment Panel after applications have closed. There is no consideration of how early an application has been submitted. In order to have the best chance of being successful in their application, schools may wish to take the time to develop a well-researched proposal that represents the best project for their specific school to achieve one or more of the outcomes of the fund i.e.:

  • Increased energy resilience, especially for rural and remote schools
  • Replacement of non-renewable energy sources and/or reduction in energy usage
  • Reduction of waste and/or increased recycling
  • Reduction of carbon emissions through the use of new technology, infrastructure or energy sources.

Schools may wish to contact more than one provider to inquire about how they can best develop their project to meet their needs. The Panel will be considering a high volume of applications and schools should endeavour to ensure their application stands out.

Applications must be submitted by the school’s Principal or BOT Chair, applications cannot be submitted by a provider on behalf of a school.

Solar energy proposals 

When developing solar installation proposals, schools should make clear how the proposal meets the Fund’s outcomes e.g.:

  • How is resilience currently a problem? How will the solar system help with that?
  • What energy sources will the Solar replace?
  • How will the system reduce carbon emissions?

In answering this question, schools should consider the design of their proposed Solar system. Schools are encouraged to consider the wide range of options including:

  • Whether or not the system includes battery storage
  • How much shading/sunlight hours the Panels receive
  • Whether there is safe access to the Panels for cleaning and maintenance
  • How the school can adapt their operational practices to maximise any efficiency and get the most value out of their installations
  • The payback period of the system
  • Whether the system provides the school’s average demand or maximum demand.

Contingency budget for projects

Schools are encouraged to factor in contingency funding to their applications. It is strongly recommended for schools to apply for the amount of funding needed to ensure completion of the project, rather than applying for less money in an attempt to make the application more appealing. Schools will be required to meet standard procurement rules if they secure funding.    

If the cost of the project exceeds the value at which funding was provided, the school will have to meet the additional costs. There is no additional contingency funding available under the Sustainability Contestable Fund.

Notification of funding applications

We will notify all applicant schools of the outcomes of the funding rounds and the next steps if they have been successful.

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