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BREEZ - Business Renewables Energy Efficiency Sunderland



Reducing energy costs and cutting carbon emissions is important for businesses of all sizes, operating in all sectors.

By installing energy-efficiency improvements into business premises the average company could reduce its energy bill by up to 25%. The savings generated by reducing energy bills could pay back the upfront cost of the improvements in just one to three years. Businesses that cut energy costs increase their bottom line. Businesses that future-proof their green credentials attract more customers.

Sunderland City Council offers eligible SMEs a flexible approach to cutting their energy bills and their carbon emissions: 

  • Free Initial Assessment - SME eligibility check, open discussion and walk around survey to identify key objectives.
  • Free Assessment of SME/Contractor Funding Proposal - BREEZ aims to raise awareness of the local to global importance of cost-effective, carbon reduction and energy efficiency methods in the local business sector.  This means the applicant SME and their preferred installation contractor are required to develop and submit a clear, fully-costed BREEZ energy-efficiency proposal, that includes an accurate and detailed cost-effectiveness calculation, to be considered by Sunderland City Council.   The Council will support applicant SMEs and their preferred contractor with the cost-effectiveness calculation process but only where it is evident that the applicant and the contractor need specific technical guidance.   

At first the cost-effectiveness calculation process may seem onerous but in most cases it is a relatively simple formula used to ensure cost-effectiveness compliance towards a 50% BREEZ grant offer.  Accredited LED Lighting, Heating, Insulation and Solar PV installation contractors are expected to support their client SME with these cost-effectiveness payback calculations.  The calculations serve to highlight the reduction in energy use and cost as generated from the proposed energy efficiency upgrade.  They also help Sunderland City Council calculate the reduction in carbon emissions from your proposal.          

  • 50% BREEZ Grants - following submission of a fully-costed energy efficiency upgrade proposal Sunderland City Council will assess its compliance with:
    • cost-effectiveness / 10-year payback requirements
    • quality standards of the proposed products to be installed including warranties and specifications
    • please note the technical design of the proposed upgrade is the role of the preferred contractor as agreed with the client SME.  It is not the role of Sunderland City Council.  However we may occasionally request additional supporting assurances regards e.g. Health & Safety etc.   

If the proposal is approved the SME will be offered a 50% grant towards the total cost (ex VAT) of the agreed upgrade.

Typically BREEZ offers 50% grant funding towards microgeneration (e.g. Photovoltaics), Insulation, low-carbon heating upgrades and LED lighting. Grant support for upgrading business process equipment may also be available. 

As from 1 March 2022 please note new applications are subject to the following conditions:

  • The minimum 50% BREEZ grant payable is £1000 for a £2000 energy efficiency project
  • The maximum 50% BREEZ grant payable is £7500 for a £15000 (or more) energy efficiency project
  • All BREEZ grants are subject to availability of ERDF funding could be withdrawn at any time

The overall objective of BREEZ is to reduce energy consumption and enable carbon reduction in a compliant and cost-effective way. This is achieved by upgrading old, inefficient systems with new, energy-efficiency upgrades that have been approved and agreed prior to their installation.  It is therefore important to note BREEZ cannot, under any circumstances, fund any energy efficiency upgrades retrospectively or that have already commenced installation.  BREEZ will not fund any energy-efficiency upgrades that have not previously been approved by Sunderland City Council.   


Sunderland City Council is committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and to encourage and enable Citywide net-zero by 2040. 

The primary objective of the council's BREEZ programme is to raise awareness that accelerates the implementation of cost-effective low-carbon technologies into the local SME sector. 

In order to ensure BREEZ assists the most cost-effective, energy-saving opportunities each grant application must demonstrate a 10-year or less payback period.  This means the upfront cost of the efficiency upgrade must be repaid in full by the estimated value of the energy-savings generated in 10 years or less.  Applications that exceed a 10 year payback term will not be approved for BREEZ funding.    

Please see this simple example below: 

SME Workshop Area

8 operational hours per day x 5 days per week = 40hrs per week x 50 weeks per year

= 2000hrs per year.  

Wattage of existing workshop lighting

250W x 25 lamps =

6250W (6.25kW)

Wattage of proposed LED workshop lighting

140W x 25 LED lamps = 3500 (3.5kW

SME energy saved by replacing old lamps with new LED lamps = 6.25kW - 3.5kW = 2.75kW

SME electricity tariff = £0.15p per kWhr

Cost of existing workshop lighting per annum

6.25kW x 2000hrs x £0.15p = £1875 per year 

Cost of proposed LED workshop lighting per annum

3.5kW x 2000hrs x £0.15p = £1050 per year

SME Annual Saving = £1875 - £1050 = £825 per year

Upfront cost of 25 replacement lamps installed (ex vat) = £4500.

£4500 upfront cost divided by £825 per year energy-cost savings = 5.45 years payback.   

If this example was presented for consideration - and all other aspects of the grant application were in order - then a 5.45 year payback period would be approved for BREEZ grant funding by Sunderland City Council. 

If however the upfront cost of the LED-lighting upgrade was £9000 and the energy-cost savings were £825 per year the payback would be £9000/£825 = 10.90 years. This will not be approved for BREEZ grant-funding because the payback period exceeds 10 years.

The same 10 year payback threshold applies for energy efficient heating upgrades, insulation (which is calculated in relation to heating capacity) and Solar PV.   

Therefore in order to qualify for BREEZ grant funding SMEs and their preferred, approved-contractor/s are requested to clearly demonstrate how they have considered and calculated the cost-effectiveness of their proposal. 

This means the SME and their contractor must submit fully-costed quotes supported by cost-effectiveness calculations that clearly highlight:

  • SME electricity and / or gas tariff per kWh
  • 1 year gas and electricity consumption data
  • SME annual operational hours (seasonally adjusted as required e.g. heating demand)
  • The difference between existing kW capacity / efficiency / demand - and- the proposed upgrade kW capacity / efficiency / demand
  • Energy savings generated by the proposal - in terms of kWh and cost reduction
  • Payback period (10yrs or less).   

The council will provide formula to assist SMEs and their contractors with this process.

BREEZ acknowledges that some calculations can be more complex than the above. For example in instances where multiple upgrades are proposed (e.g. simultaneous lighting and heating upgrades) - or - where specifications and data required for calculations is specialist and highly technical. 

The importance of upgrading controls for e.g. lighting (e.g. motion sensors) or e.g. heating systems (e.g. programmer, thermostat upgrades, remote apps) should not be underestimated. The correct controls can serve to increase potential energy-savings and reduce the payback period for (in most cases) a relatively small additional investment.

If you are unsure about how to approach and present energy-savings calculations please advise BREEZ at the earliest opportunity.

For more information about BREEZ please email

To formally register your interest in BREEZ please download the attached Expression of Interest document, complete and return to


"With help and advice from the team at BREEZ we significantly reduced our carbon footprint and running costs by upgrading to a more energy-efficient heating system which also qualified for a 50% grant!"

Industrial Engineer, Argus, Pennywell Ind Estate

"Comogo Leisure Ltd is a new venue in Sunderland City Centre opening 18 hours a day offering indoor sports activities including pool and snooker. As such our energy consumption and running costs for heating and lighting were significant. With the help of an Energy Audit and a 50% BREEZ grant we decided to install a Low-Carbon Energy-Efficient Air Source Heat Pump as recommended in the Energy Audit. This system delivers accurate temperatures via easy to programme controls and significantly reduces electricity demand by over 70% compared to the previous electric heating system.  By also upgrading all the old fluorescent lighting on both floors to LED we further reduced electricity demand (and running costs) by another 10%. We were guided through the entire process  by the BREEZ team at Sunderland City Council and we strongly recommend any Sunderland-based business consider the BREEZ support available.

Managing Director, Comogo Leisure


Case Study: Royal Navy Association Sunderland (PDF) [611KB]

Note: pre-qualification site visits, audits and site surveys - to help prevent the spread of Covid please read and adhere to this safety guidance;
  • Wear a mask 
  • Keep two metres apart 
  • Wash hands before and after the visit
  • Please ensure areas to be reviewed are well ventilated
  • If your premises are staffed is it possible to conduct this visit outside of normal hours?
  • If you or any one in your family, friends, staff bubbles have been told to self-isolate, or have been in close contact with anyone diagnosed or awaiting results of a Covid test 24 hours before the visit please advise the visiting officer immediately

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