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Public sector buildings to turn off heat 1-2 hours before closing time

Public sector bodies will be required to set temperatures to the guideline of 19 degrees where appropriate.

PUBLIC BODIES WILL be advised to turn off the heating one to two hours before closing time under new measures to save energy this winter. 

Cabinet today agreed that the public sector would “show leadership in how to reduce energy costs” with a number of new measures. 

The energy efficiency campaign for public sector bodies involves taking a number of measures such as reducing the temperature and the amount of time that heating systems are in operation, where appropriate.

Public buildings will also be asked to reduce electricity use at peak times, whenever possible, and make more efficient use of building space, where occupancy is low at certain times due to remote working.

Public sector bodies will be required to set temperatures to the guideline of 19 degrees where appropriate.

In addition to turning off the heat before closing time, there is to be no non-security/  safety lighting in use in these buildings after 8pm.

A Government spokesperson said there will be a “common sense approach” adopted throughout this campaign, which will allow for consideration of the public service being delivered at the location, as well as the suitability of reducing temperatures in particular circumstances. 

The new measures aims to deliver 5%-10% energy savings across the sector and 15% savings in buildings, according to a deputy government spokesperson. 

“There will be no measures taken that will in any way put either staff or security of the property or anything like that, in danger. It’s more as a case of, there are a number of public sector buildings at the moment, where perhaps there aren’t that many staff [working in the building] or staff spread across a number of floors because of working from home,” he said. 

Regarding the lighting up of State buildings, such as Leinster House and Government Buildings, the spokesperson said that no discussions had taken place as of yet. 

“They haven’t gone into specifics yet – this will now go to each public sector organisation and body and they will then make decisions,” said the spokesperson. 

Other countries such as Germany have already curtailed the outdoor lighting of some of its State buildings. However, concerns have been raised by some in Government about such a move being widespread in the capital. 

Each department and public body now has a body of work to do to see what measures it could adopt in the coming weeks, said the spokesperson.

They said this is about “showing leadership, to show this is possible, this is how it can be done”. 

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan has already indicated that State buildings open to the public like schools and libraries would not be affected in the same way as Government office buildings when it comes to reducing energy usage.

Ryan also gave government ministers an update on energy security and supply situation.

Current wholesale price expectations for this winter and throughout 2023 are at over 10 times their historic level, Cabinet was told. 

While there have been some easing of gas prices in recent days, the Nord Stream one pipeline stopped delivering gas from Russia to Germany, with no clarity of when or if it will return to operation, which would add further upward pressure on wholesale gas prices, ministers were told. 

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