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.

About the Fund

The Fund will operate as follows:

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.


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 these projects offer educational opportunities. With supporting information and curriculum materials, these projects highlight affirmative actions, and can decrease climate change anxiety amongst students. These projects can also provide additional learning opportunities for students.

Opening and closing dates of funding rounds

There are two rounds for receiving applications:

  • The first round opened on 6th November 2019 and closed on 31st January 2020
  • The second round will be held from 22nd June to 3rd August 2020.

Applications received outside the published timeframe, i.e. earlier than 22nd June and 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.

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)
  • 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.

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

  • If the project is not an existing one, complete a 10YPP amendment and/or 5YA variation to include the fund project into their 10 year property plan or 5YA agreement
  • Provide monthly reporting (until June 2023) to the Fund inbox which consists of:
    • Project delivery progress
    • Performance information.

Sustainability Contestable Fund inbox:

Not in scope of the fund

  • Any project that does not create an asset worth at least $5,000
  • 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.

Solar energy proposals 

When developing solar installation proposals, schools should ensure that 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 (provided above).

Installation decision - Solar panels

Contingency budget for projects

Schools should factor in contingency funding to their applications. 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.

This is because 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.

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

Applicant eligibility

  • Only state schools can apply to 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 if they are not successful in the first round
  • Schools cannot make joint applications. 

Application process

Application requirements

Application requirements 

  • Schools should discuss Fund proposals with their Ministry Property Advisor in order to seek their endorsement for the proposed project(s)
  • 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
  • An email confirmation of the endorsement from the Property Advisor should accompany the application form. Schools should allow sufficient time to receive this endorsement as this is an important component for the Assessment Panel in determining whether or not a school’s application is successful
  • If schools have their Ministry 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
  • Applications must be submitted by either the school’s Principal or Board of Trustees Chair or their delegate to the Fund inbox with all supporting documentation and the application form. The school’s name must be in the subject line of the email.

Sustainability Contestable Fund inbox:

  • Applications cannot be submitted by a provider/supplier, or the Ministry Property Advisor on behalf of a school. This is because school-specific information is required in the proposal and as noted above applications must also be submitted by either the school’s Principal or Board of Trustees Chair or their delegate
  • Applications will not be accepted outside the published timeframes.

Please find the application form linked below. Applicants should carefully read the instructions on the form, and fill it out as clearly and fully as possible. The application form has been updated to streamline the process for the second round. However, applications submitted on the old version of the form will be eligible for consideration by the Panel.

Sustainability Contestable Fund Round 2 Application Form


Supporting evidence and information

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
  • 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 benefits associated with the project
  • Information on the project’s positive impacts on the school and 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
  • 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
  • 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 must be 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.


Assessment of applications

Assessment of applications

Applications will be assessed by an Assessment Panel (Panel) made up of representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and the New Zealand School Trustees Association.

The Ministry does not endorse any particular supplier for any project funded by the Sustainability Contestable Fund.

Schools are advised to research their proposed project and discuss it with their Ministry Property Advisor to get their endorsement of it before submitting their application.

The considerations listed below can assist schools with their applications for the second round:

  • Schools are encouraged to start preparing their application as early as possible
  • Schools should allow their Ministry Property Advisor sufficient time to review their application and provide their endorsement before the application is sent to the Fund’s administration team. Please note, 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
  • 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
  • Applications might include multiple projects. Each project in the application will be considered on its own merits, though it won’t necessarily be recommended for funding
  • Schools are encouraged to avoid a generic proposal with insufficient information and details by tailoring it to the school, students, and community showing how they have thoroughly thought through 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 (e.g. 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.


Notification of funding applications

Notification of funding applications

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

List of successful applications for SCF

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

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