There are environmentally-friendly schemes that practices can use to reduce the cost of the capital investment needed to upgrade your surgery's building's services and fabric.
Enhanced capital allowances
Enhanced capital allowances, let businesses claim 100 per cent of the cost of buying energy efficient equipment against their taxable profits.
To qualify, the equipment purchased must be on the energy technology list. Examples are energy-efficient gas boilers, biomass boilers, combined heat and power and renewable technologies.
Interest-free Carbon Trust loans
In conjunction with the RCGP, the Carbon Trust offers practices unsecured interest-free loans, for up to four years.
The loans range from £3,000 to £500,000, and there are no arrangement fees. If sufficient savings can be made through reducing utility costs, you could make a loan pay for itself through reducing utilities costs.
To encourage GPs to take up these loans, and as part of an RCGP scheme, a tailor-made website is being developed with a practice carbon footprint calculator.
Practices using the website can obtain a green practice award, highlighting their green credentials. Click here for more information from the RCGP website.
Low Carbon Buildings Programme
The government-funded Low Carbon Buildings Programme has two phases. Phase two is available to NHS-funded practices and provides grants of up to 50 per cent for microgeneration technologies.
The Building Research Establishment (BRE) manages the fund and applications are being accepted until 31 March 2010 for electrical and heat microgeneration and until 31 March 2011 for thermal energy.
Climate change levy
The climate change levy (CCL) affects the UK's non-domestic sector. It is charged to businesses consuming around 20,000kWh of electricity per year - equivalent to the amount consumed by a six-bedroom house.
The levy is also charged on gas, coal and liquified petroleum gas consumption, but not on other types of fuel such as biomass or on electricity that comes from renewable sources.
By investing in these technologies, GPs can save money against the CCL. And some utility companies have schemes letting customers to buy electricity from renewable sources, exempting them from the CCL.
A feed-in tariff (FIT) allows small businesses and individuals to sell electricity back via the grid to electricity companies required to buy at premium rates.
The government wants FITs in place by April 2010. For systems up to 4kW, the rate willbe as high as 36.5 pence per kWh, which, once fixed, will be guaranteed for up to 20 years.
To qualify for FITs, the installers must be Microgeneration Certification Scheme-accredited through the BRE.
- Andrew Cooper is a commercial property and energy consultant, andrew-cooper.com