Sustainability Contestable Fund

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

The Fund can be used to support projects that 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 through the use of 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

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 [PDF, 218 KB]

The second (and last) round, which was open from 22nd June to 3rd August 2020, is now closed. No further funding round is planned.

Applications received outside the published timeframe, i.e. earlier than 22nd June or later than 3rd August 2020, will not be considered. This is to ensure that all applicants have an equal opportunity and that a consistent approach applies to all applications.

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.
Application form and guidelines

Application form and guidelines

The form

  • All sections of the Sustainability Contestable Fund Round 2 Application Form must be filled out correctly.
  • Multiple projects can be included in one application form; however, information about each project should be clear and distinguished. If completing the round 2 application form, each project should be described in its own set of application questions as per the instructions on the form.
  • Cost estimates and contingency amounts should be provided for each project.
  • Supporting documentation as per section below should be provided with the form.
  • Applications should be endorsed by school’s Property Advisor via an email attached to the application.
  • Applications must be sent to by the school (School’s Principal or Board of Trustees Chair or a delegated staff member) within the published timeframe (22nd June – 3rd August).
  • The school’s name must be in the subject line of the email.
  • Schools must notify Fund’s team via an email to if there are any changes to the contact details noted in the application.
  • Applications will not be accepted outside the published timeframes.
  • Applications cannot be submitted by a provider/supplier or the Ministry Property Advisor on behalf of a school.
  • Schools cannot make joint applications.

Sustainability Contestable Fund Round 2 Application Form [DOCX, 61 KB]


In addition to the application form, we have created example applications to help you create your own. These are examples only. The school and projects are fictional. Please do not rely on this as a guide for price, technical specifications, or any other information. Your application details will be specific to your school. The example is meant only to demonstrate the level of detail and the types of answers the Panel is looking for, not to provide a template for applicants’ answers. Below is an example of an application for a single project, and an application for multiple projects.

Single Project Application Example [PDF, 614 KB]

Multiple Project Application Example [PDF, 657 KB]

Supporting documentation

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
  • Project cost (either an estimate or a quote) and any ongoing costs, if applicable
  • Contingency plans for ongoing costs and/or cost overruns and/or the project not being delivered on time
  • Information on the school’s current position and how the project will provide positive benefits to the school, its students and wider community
  • Information on how the proposed project aligns with the Fund’s sustainability outcomes
  • Information 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. This should be as specific and detailed as possible. A detailed timeline demonstrates that the school has the capacity to deliver the project within the required timeframes
  • Evidence that the Ministry Property Advisor has endorsed the project. This evidence should be an email confirmation from the Ministry Property Advisor attached to the application form. Schools should not assume that the Fund Administration Team is aware of an endorsement, unless it is attached to their application
  • Evidence that the project asset(s) can be procured and completed within 12 months or timed to deliver with another planned project(s) to achieve efficiencies
  • Information on how the investment can be linked to and benefit the delivery of the school’s curriculum and create additional learning opportunities for students
  • (If relevant), schools should also state what projects will be enabled in their 10 year property plan as a result of the Fund making their 5YA available to other projects (if the application for the Fund is successful). This is necessary where Fund proposals are combined with existing planned projects
  • (If relevant), information on the amount of any co-investment or leveraging by the school, third party funders and/or other supporters. Please note that any assets that are created through the Fund will be 100% Ministry owned
  • (If relevant), information about any proposed ongoing contractual arrangements that the school intends to enter into with a third party as part of this project.

Things to consider when preparing an application

Lower value projects are encouraged

  • 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.
  • Given the limited funding amount ($2.5M), lower value projects (Less than $50K) are encouraged as they provide opportunities for more projects to be funded.
  • 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.

Endorsement from Ministry’s Property Advisors is encouraged

  • Applications will be considered if they are not endorsed by a Ministry Property Advisor, however, they will have less chance for being selected compared to applications that are endorsed by a Property Advisor.
  • Schools should allow sufficient time to receive Property Advisor’s endorsement as this is an important component for the Assessment Panel in determining whether or not a school’s application is successful.
  • Property Advisors are likely to receive a number of applications to consider and they may need time to liaise with schools and the Ministry’s National Office before they can endorse a project. If Property Advisors receive an application in the last week of the application period, it is less likely they will have time to provide their endorsement.
  • The Property Advisor’s endorsement will be their view on whether or not the school has the capacity and capability to deliver the project on time, and that the proposal meets or aligns with the property needs for the school.
  • If schools have their Property Advisor’s endorsement from the first round and are resubmitting an application for round two, they don’t need to seek the endorsement again unless the project has changed or there are additional projects
  • If schools are resubmitting applications from round one to round two all endorsements from the Property Advisor must be included in the application for round two consideration. This is regardless of whether the endorsement is from round one, or for additional/changed project(s). We need to see all supporting documentation for second round applications as these form a critical component of the assessment by the Panel.

A single application can include more than one project 

  • The Ministry invites schools to make a single application, but this may contain multiple projects.
  • Each project in the application will be considered on its own merits, though it won’t necessarily be recommended for funding.
  • 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.

Contingency and cost estimate must be provided and clear

  • Schools should include contingency amount in their applications.
  • Contingency should be provided separately for each project if more than one projects are included in the application.

No further funding than the approved amount is available to successful projects

  • Schools must apply for the total 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.
  • 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 further funding available under the Sustainability Contestable Fund, if it is not included in your application.

Sufficient details about the project and its positive impacts are required

  • Applications will need to provide sufficient detail about the proposed asset and clearly demonstrate how the proposal:
    • Could reduce energy consumption or waste, and/or
    • Could reduce use of non-renewable energy sources, and/or
    • Could deliver demonstrable benefits especially for the school and/or community. Benefits unique to the proposed project or specific to the school/community are likely to provide a more compelling case for funding than generic benefits
    • Could deliver the best possible sustainability impacts for the school from the range of projects available. For example a solar installation may reduce energy consumption, but replacing an inefficient heating system could have a much larger impact.
  • Applications will need to clearly specify how the proposed project would deliver additional learning opportunities for their students. Where appropriate this includes links to existing environmental or sustainability curriculum items, and how these would be enhanced by the proposed project.

  • Schools are encouraged to avoid a generic proposal with insufficient information and details by tailoring it to the school, students, and community showing that they have thoroughly considered the opportunities this funding presents.

  • Applications will have more chance of succeeding if they provide sufficient technical information, such as product details, warranties and existing electrical infrastructure at the school (boiler plate applications that lack definite school-specific information or solar panels proposals without warranty and technical details will not be considered a high priority for funding).

  • 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 try to make their application as compelling as possible, and differentiate it from other competing proposals.

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

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

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

The Ministry have contacted all schools applied for the first round directly via email and have provided them with the outcomes of their application and guidance on how to proceed.

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 round of funding are now closed. Applications for the second round of funding will open on 22nd June and close on 3rd August 2020. 

Does the Ministry accept applications outside the published timeframe?

No. Applications received outside the published timeframe will not be considered. This is to ensure that all applicants will have equal opportunity and a consistent approach applies to all funding applications.

Can the application be sent by Ministry’s Property Advisors, or the Project Manager/Supplier?

No. Applications must be sent to by the school (School’s Principal or Board of Trustees Chair or a delegated staff member) within the published timeframe (22nd June – 3rd August).

If an application does not succeed in the first round then what?

The Ministry have notified all unsuccessful applicants and advised them of their options and how to resubmit for the second round if they wish to. Information on improving applications for resubmission are available on the Application guidelines section.

Are applications considered on a “first come, first served” basis? 

No, applications will be considered by the Panel after the closing date regardless of their submission date.

Do I need to get an endorsement from my Property Advisor?

Schools are encouraged to seek the endorsement of their Ministry Property Advisor for proposed projects before they apply to the Fund. If they endorse the application, a copy of their endorsement should be included as supporting evidence with the application.

Applications will be considered if they are not endorsed by a Property Advisor, however, they will have less chance for being selected than applications that are endorsed by a Property Advisor.

Can I apply for multiple projects?

Yes. You can include more than one projects in your application and each project will be assessed based on their own merits; however, you may not receive funding for all of the proposed projects. Please also note that the application will need to include clear details and cost estimates for each individual project.

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. If you prefer a specific supplier, this should be made clear. In these cases a rationale for this preference will need to be provided as part of your application. The greater the increase in price between your preferred supplier and other competing quotes or tenders the more compelling this explanation will need to be.

Will any projects have priority for the funding?

Applications will be considered on their specific merit, but a school’s geographical isolation will be taken into account. Projects less than $50,000 are 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.

I have an application on the old form, can I submit it?

Yes, the updated form is designed to streamline the application process. Applications on the old form will still be accepted, however the new form has more questions which may help guide the development of your application.

What are the next steps for successful schools?

Approved funding is now 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. If schools have difficulty delivering the project, they should contact the Fund mailbox at, and the Ministry will provide advice from an appropriate expert.


Who can apply for the Fund?

Only state schools can apply to the Fund. Applications must be submitted by the applying School’s Principal or Board of Trustees Chair or their delegated school administration team. Applications will not be accepted from suppliers or other Ministry staff.

Can an application be for a project already underway, or planned to start before the application closing date? 

No, projects already underway are ineligible. This includes any projects scheduled to begin before funding has been allocated.

What projects are ineligible for funding?

There are a range of projects that won’t be funded including (but not limited to):

  • 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 (If this is P1/P2 project), School Investment Package (SIP), Improving Classrooms in Small or Remote Schools programme
  • Training and/or changes to operating practices where no asset is created
  • Electric/hybrid vehicle purchase and/or EV charging infrastructure
  • Beautification projects
  • Projects that are related to the external environment, planting, landscaping etc.
  • Furniture and equipment
  • Project works that are on a building that will be demolished or redeveloped and would be lost as result of this work
  • Projects that are already underway or completed.

Is replacing a new (less than 10 years old) gas boiler with heat pumps an eligible project?

Yes. However, projects that relate to replacing property or infrastructure that is less than 10 years old will be considered a lower priority for funding.

What constitutes an efficient heating system?

Schools will need to provide as much evidence as possible on how their proposed heating system will be more efficient than their existing one. The Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA) Panel member can also provide guidance on this when the Panel assesses the applications.

Budgeting & Cost Estimates

How much funding is available to successful projects per annum?

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

Do I have to provide quotes?

An application can be considered for funding, on an estimate. However, if your application is successful, you will be required to follow the government procurement rules.

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 include 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 these occurring is identified schools should include what steps they have taken to investigate or prevent this, as part of their application.

Do I need to provide supporting information?

Yes. A list of supporting information/documents which may strengthen your application are identified on the Application guidelines section.

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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