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.

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

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 capital allocation. The Ministry will 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 more robust evidence than projects of lower value.

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

  • Solar electricity (photovoltaic) installations (with or without batteries) in areas with low energy resilience
  • 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
  • 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.

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 and then report project outcomes back to the Ministry.

Not in scope of the fund

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


  • Only state schools are eligible to apply to the Sustainability Contestable Fund
  • 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 process

  • 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 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 below to by the funding round closing date, and put your school’s name 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, 758 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 quotes (or estimates in the first instance), as well as what if any ongoing costs might be incurred
  • Contingency plans if project costs run over
  • Comment on the benefits associated with the proposal and why it cannot be funded by alternative means
  • 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. This evidence would consist of the project’s timeline supported by appropriate commentary or information in the Property Advisor’s endorsement
  • (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; or where 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.

To comply with all-of-government procurement rules, quotes should be provided as follows:

  • One quote if the project is valued at less than $50,000
  • Three quotes if the project is valued between $50,000 and $100,000.

Assessment of applications

A panel appointed by the Ministry will make recommendations to the Ministry and the Ministry will make the final decisions. The Panel will be made up of a Ministry representative plus a representative from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority and a nominee of the School Trustees Association.

Notification of funding applications

We will notify all applicant schools informing them of the outcomes and the next steps if they have been awarded funding.

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