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BREEZ - Business Renewables Energy Efficiency Sunderland

BREEZ Header March 2024

Save energy now. Increase your bottom line tomorrow. 

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

By installing energy-efficiency improvements and also implementing behavioural change initiatives the average company could reduce its energy bill by up to 25%.

Organisations that cut energy costs improve viability and future-proof against energy price volatility. Organisations that improve their low carbon credentials often attract more customers.

Through the BREEZ scheme, Sunderland City Council offers eligible local businesses and community organisations a flexible approach to cutting their energy bills and their carbon emissions. The project is funded by UK Government and Sunderland City Council and, subject to the ongoing availability of funding, runs from January 2024 until March 2025

Sunderland City Council's BREEZ team provides businesses and community organisations with a free, Energy-Saving Opportunities Review and could also award a 50% grant towards the total cost of installing cost-effective energy-efficiency upgrades and improvements.

BREEZ grant-funded energy efficiency measures

The primary objective of BREEZ is to upgrade old, inefficient lighting and heating systems and to insulate the walls and roofs of business premises.  Where appropriate BREEZ can also support the installation of micro-generation upgrades such as solar panels and battery storage.  

  • LED lighting - replacing old, inefficient lighting with LED light fittings is a highly cost-effective method of cutting electricity costs. Typically, the energy cost savings generated by installing LED lighting can repay the upfront cost in under three years as well as improving the quality of lighting in buildings.
  • Insulation and ventilation -reducing heat loss from inadequately insulated roof spaces, walls and floors is vital to improving the energy performance of all older buildings. BREEZ supports the installation all cost-effective insulation measures, however, please note eligibility for BREEZ grants does not include upgrades to single or double-glazed windows.

Typically, the payback period for standard insulation measures meets BREEZ payback requirements. This is because the energy savings generated from them do not repay the upfront cost in seven years or less.

 Heating system upgrades - BREEZ supports cost-effective heating upgrades to:

  • Old inefficient gas boilers (65% efficiency or less typically 15 years old or more)
  • Old inefficient electric storage or panel heaters
  • Old inefficient Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems

Low carbon technologies

Whenever possible BREEZ supports the installation of low carbon technologies such as heat pumps, biomass boilers and similar highly efficient heating systems. Sunderland City Council encourages all applicants to consider switching to low carbon technologies at the earliest opportunity. In terms of cost-effectiveness and payback terms, businesses interested in a low-carbon approach could benefit from broader and more flexible grant approval criteria, the BREEZ team will discuss options with you.  

Boiler upgrade scheme

To further support the uptake of heat pumps BREEZ will deduct the value of the Government's Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) grant from the total cost of the heat pump. For example: if a BREEZ applicant is quoted £20,000 for a commercial Air Source Heat Pump and qualifies for a £7,500 BUS grant then the remaining balance is £12,500. BREEZ pays 50% of the balance (£6,250) meaning the applicant organisation pays just £6,250 towards the full cost of the heat pump.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is open to small non-domestic properties in England and Wales. It runs until 2025 and provides:

  • £7,500 off the cost and installation of an air source heat pump
  • £5,000 off the cost and installation of a biomass boiler
  • £7,500 off the cost and installation of a ground source heat pump

To find out more about Boiler Upgrade Scheme and how to apply please visit Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

  • Micro-generation - BREEZ may also support the installation of cost-effective micro-generation measures such as solar panels and battery storage. Battery storage applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to assess their appropriateness and cost-effectiveness.
  • Business processes - BREEZ may be able to support efficiency upgrades to some business processes. These are considered on a bespoke case by case basis. As with all BREEZ grant support the underlying key requirement is a cost-effective outcome.   

Circumstances when BREEZ may not be able to offer grant support

  • BREEZ cannot, under any circumstances, fund energy efficiency upgrades retrospectively or any that have already commenced installation. BREEZ will not fund energy-efficiency upgrades that have not been approved for grant funding by Sunderland City Council prior to installation
  • BREEZ will not fund any works that have not obtained necessary planning approval
  • BREEZ will not fund double glazing
  • Refurbishment and re-development works that are subject to The Building Regulations 2010 are not eligible for support from BREEZ unless the applicant proposes to exceed the minimum energy efficiency standards set out in Approved Document L, Conservation of fuel and power, Volume 2: Buildings other than dwellings, 2021 edition incorporating 2023 amendments (
  • Residential premises of any type or tenure, including holiday homes, are not eligible for BREEZ

BREEZ grant limits

  • The minimum 50% BREEZ grant is £500
  • The maximum 50% BREEZ grant for a single, cost-effective energy-efficiency upgrade is £7,500
  • The maximum BREEZ grant for two or more cost-effective energy-efficiency upgrades, including potentially micro-generation is £10,000 

If the energy cost-savings generated by the energy-efficiency improvements are estimated to return the upfront cost of investment in under seven years, then the project is considered to be cost-effective. BREEZ-funded energy-efficiency upgrades should range from less than one year up to seven years.

BREEZ eligibility

To qualify for BREEZ your organisation must be a Sunderland-based business or charity or community organisation, with existing operations in the city or planning to locate new operations in the city.

To formally register your interest in BREEZ please fully complete the online Expression of Interest (EOI) form here. Or complete the pdf document attached below and send to

Also, if you need any support completing the EOI please contact the team at

Upon receipt of the EOI the following information will be checked for BREEZ eligibility:

  • Locality - the applicant postcode must be Sunderland based.
  • Business status - Companies House
  • Sole Trader status - accounts
  • Larger businesses - Companies House and location of premises in Sunderland
  • Tenure - e.g., Land registry, deeds for owners or a minimum tenancy agreement of 3 years for rented premises.
  • Local Charities and Community Organisations - should be registered on the Charities Register and deliver frontline services or operate as a hub that delivers multiple frontline services and meet one of the following legal structures:
    • Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO)
    • Community Benefit Society (CBS)
    • Trust
    • Unincorporated Association
    • Co-operative society
    • Community Interest Company (CIC)
    • Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG)
    • Company Limited by Shares (CLS)

Please note businesses and community organisations which show financial stress in their accounts may be subject to additional due diligence and eligibility checks.

Businesses in the following sectors are not eligible for BREEZ:

  • Agriculture
  • Fishery and aquaculture
  • Large national retail chains
  • Banking
  • Insurance
  • Tobacco and tobacco products
  • Construction or decommissioning of nuclear power stations

BREEZ grant application process

Following confirmation of eligibility, based on the content of the EOI and any follow up discussions, the BREEZ energy-efficiency advice and grant award process is as follows:

1) Free initial energy efficiency / retrofit review and initial consultation - site visit and walk-around survey to discuss, identify and agree priority upgrades. During this visit the BREEZ team will conduct an Energy Saving Opportunity Review and collate photographic evidence of existing old and inefficient fixtures, fittings and services that could be upgraded.    

Following the site visit and initial consultation the BREEZ  team will provide a summary Energy Saving Opportunities Report and broader Decarbonisation Plan.

The summary report will prioritise the most cost-effective energy saving opportunities that can be implemented in line with the applicants energy efficiency investment budget and BREEZ grant limits. When energy saving priorities have been agreed the applicant will be invited to obtain a quote/s and calculations for the proposed energy efficiency upgrade.

2) Quotations, job descriptions and supporting information.

Sunderland City Council encourage BREEZ applicants to consult and utilise locally based contractors and suppliers whenever possible.  

  • For energy efficiency works with a total value of £10,000 or less only one quote is required provided value for money can be demonstrated to the BREEZ team. Sunderland City Council recognises some businesses may choose to obtain three or more quotes in order to compare costs and ensure best value. However, for BREEZ grant-funded projects with a total value of less than £10,000 only the preferred quote and description of works need to be submitted.  It is important to note where a one quote process is used the BREEZ team will evaluate and compare the cost of materials, parts and labour per hour to ensure prices reflect current market conditions.      
  • For works with a total value of £10,000 up to £50,000 three quotations are required. BREEZ applicants select their preferred contractor and advise the BREEZ team why they have been selected when submitting all three quotations.  For example, while it is important to get value for money there may be other factors which will influence selection, such as how quickly the work can be carried out.
  • For works in excess of £50,000 the applicant will be expected to conduct a simple Invitation to Tender (ITT) exercise. This process involves advertising the opportunity and description of works in the public domain (e.g., business webpage, local and social media, etc) for at least 10 working days. It is the responsibility of the applicant to select their preferred contractor supported by an evaluation and scoring process.      

Please note all quotations/descriptions of works must be supported by the following detail and documentation:

  • Fully costed, letter-headed quote which itemises parts and labour separately (including and excluding VAT). The quote should detail the number, type and capacity of fixtures and/or fittings to be replaced including any ancillary or enabling works required. To ensure a speedy evaluation process please include as much relevant detail as possible.
  • The quote should set out the number of hours required for the contractor to complete the installation.
  • Please also organise and clearly label all documents so they are easily identifiable.      
  • Fully completed cost effectiveness calculation template/s as required (please see attached). Solar panel applications must also include a full system performance overview, which applicants should ask the companies quoting for business to provide.
  • Product data sheets for each make and model of the proposed energy efficiency upgrade including warranties and guarantees. For LED lighting upgrades please refer to the attached BREEZ LED Lighting PDF.

Upon receipt of a full quotation pack Sunderland City Council's BREEZ team will evaluate the proposal and advise next steps.  

Cost-effectiveness calculations

Tackling climate change is a significant global to local responsibility that involves all businesses and households. Partners across Sunderland have set an ambitious target to be carbon neutral as a city by 2040, and BREEZ will help accelerate the implementation of cost-effective low-carbon technologies into the local business community. 

In order to ensure BREEZ supports the most cost-effective, energy-saving opportunities, to be compliant, grant applications for heating, insulation solar panel and industrial process upgrades must demonstrate a payback period of seven years or lessLED lighting upgrades must demonstrate a payback period of four years or less. 

This means the energy bill savings generated by the proposed energy efficiency upgrade should cover the total upfront cost in seven years or less (four years or less for LED Lighting) .

For example: If an energy-efficiency upgrade with a total cost of £5000 generates electricity savings of £725 per year then the payback term will be 6.95yrs (5000/725 = 6.95).    

Please note grant applications that exceed a seven-year payback term (four years for LED lighting) are unlikely to be approved for BREEZ funding. 

All BREEZ grant applicants, and their selected contractor are required to submit payback term and carbon reduction calculation templates and appraisals alongside their quotations. These calculations and appraisals help businesses realise the broader environmental benefits of their BREEZ grant proposal. Step-by-step calculation templates are provided by the BREEZ team but in instances where it is clear specific technical guidance is required the BREEZ team can support with the calculation process.

To avoid delays if you are unsure about energy-savings calculations please contact the BREEZ team at your earliest possible opportunity for guidance and support at

The cost of any necessary enabling works such as utility upgrades, statutory fees and asbestos removal can be included in the application but will be factored into the cost effectiveness of the application. If including these enabling costs results in the application being viewed as not cost effective, then the applicant will be responsible for meeting these costs, if they want to go ahead with the BREEZ grant.

Please see this simple worked example for an LED lighting upgrade of a workshop unit below: 

A) Calculate the existing wattage and the proposed wattage of the LED upgrade

Wattage of existing workshop lighting

25 lamps x 250W each = 6250W (6.25kW)

Wattage of proposed LED upgrade to workshop lighting

25 LED fittings x 140W each = 3500 (3.5kW

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

B) Now calculate the operational hours of the workshop

8 operational hours per day x 5 days per week = 40hrs per week x 50 weeks per year = 2000 hrs per year.

C) Now establish the current cost of your electricity per Kilowatt hour? This should be available on your electricity bill

Workshop electricity cost = £0.25p per kWhr

D) Using the information from 1, 2 and 3 above now calculate your current running costs and also the reduction in running costs from the proposed LED lighting upgrade

Current running cost of existing workshop lighting per annum

6.25kW x 2000hrs x £0.25p = £3125 per year 

Running cost of proposed LED upgradeto workshop lighting per annum

3.5kW x 2000hrs x £0.25p = £1750 per year

Annual Running Cost Saving = £3125 - £1750 = £1375 per year

E) What is the total upfront cost of the LED lighting upgrade?

Upfront total cost of replacing 25 old inefficient light fittings with 25 new LED fittings (excl. vat) = £5000

F) Using the information in 4 and 5 above now calculate the payback term

£5000 upfront cost divided by £1375 per year energy-cost savings = 3.63 years payback

If this example was presented to the BREEZ team for consideration - and all other aspects of the grant application were compliant - then a 3.63-year payback term would be approved for BREEZ grant funding by Sunderland City Council because the payback term is less than four years.

The same principle applies for all other BREEZ grant funded energy efficiency upgrades including heating, insulation, solar panels and industrial processes but in these instances a seven year payback term is required.   

Therefore, to qualify for BREEZ grant funding applicants and their contractor/s are requested to clearly demonstrate that they have considered and accurately calculated the cost-effectiveness of their energy efficiency proposal.

Upgrading system controls -the importance of upgrading system controls should not be underestimated. Effective system controls can significantly increase potential energy-savings and further reduce the payback period for (in most cases) a relatively small additional investment. For example motion sensors for LED lighting systems could reduce energy use by a further 30% or more.

Improved programmers, thermostats, weather compensators and remote apps for grant-funded heating upgrades will have a similar positive impact. An Energy Management System (EMS) can improve the efficiency of all energy related systems in business premises.

When new controls are included in the energy efficiency proposal the BREEZ team will allow up to 30% additional energy savings to be factored into cost-effectiveness calculations.

To avoid delays if you are unsure about energy-savings calculations please contact the BREEZ team at your earliest possible opportunity for guidance and support.

3) Initial BREEZ proposition review

Following submission of a fully costed, energy efficiency upgrade proposal the BREEZ team will review its compliance with the following requirements:

  • cost-effectiveness/seven-year payback term or less
  • carbon tonnes reduced in one year and also over the expected lifetime of the energy efficiency measure/s installed
  • cost per tonne of carbon saved
  • quality standards, design process of the proposed upgrade including warranties and specifications
  • time required for the selected contractor to install the proposed measure

Technical design

Please note the technical design of the proposed energy efficiency upgrade is the responsibility of the accredited contractor selected by the BREEZ applicant to install the energy saving measures. The BREEZ team cannot be consulted or comment on any aspect of technical design however we may occasionally request additional assurances in relation to Health & Safety, quality standards of proposed products etc.

If there are any clarifications required in the proposition the BREEZ team will contact the applicant and or the contractor for more information.

If the proposition is fully compliant and meets all the cost effectiveness requirements then a 50% BREEZ grant of the total project cost (in line with the applicant's VAT status - and up to the maximum grant value available, line with applicant VAT status will be offered.


If the proposal is approved the business will be offered a 50% grant award towards the agreed total cost of the upgrade. Please note if your business is VAT registered the 50% grant award will be net of VAT. If your business or community organisation is not VAT registered the grant award will be offered and paid gross.

4) Full application pack and BREEZ grant offer

Following successful review of the initial proposition the applicant will be invited to submit a full BREEZ application pack. This includes the following:

  • Fully completed, signed and dated BREEZ grant application form.
  • Two years accounts
  • Proof of Tenure
  • Owners - deeds, land registry etc
  • Tenants - tenancy agreement clearly showing at least three years remaining and Landlord's permission letter confirming BREEZ-funded energy efficiency works can proceed.
  • Evidence of current gas and electricity tariffs and annual consumption data (if requested).

Upon receipt of a full and comprehensive BREEZ application pack Sunderland City Council will offer a 50% grant award letter setting out all terms and conditions. The grant award letter will state the installation of measures should be completed within 90 days or it may be withdrawn. Under some circumstances the 90-day limit could be extended but this must be pre-agreed with the BREEZ team.  

5) Installation of agreed energy efficiency measure/s

Following acceptance of the BREEZ grant award the applicant instructs their selected contractor to install the agreed energy efficiency measures within the agreed timescale.

During this time the BREEZ team will contact applicants for installation updates. If installation delays are expected it is essential that the BREEZ team is advised at the earliest possible opportunity.

6) Completion of works and BREEZ grant payment

When works have been completed to the satisfaction of the BREEZ applicant the business pays the full cost to the approved contractor by bank transfer.

To claim the 50% BREEZ grant from Sunderland City Council the applicant must submit a final invoice from the contractor and a screenshot of the bank transfer transaction to the approved contractor.

Upon receipt of these two compliant documents the BREEZ team, will complete a compliance site visit to obtain photographic evidence of the energy efficiency measures installed in situ, the BREEZ team then aims to transfer the agreed 50% grant award into the bank account of the applicant. Typically, this process can take up to five days to complete.

To formally register your interest in BREEZ please fully complete the online Expression of Interest (EOI) form. Or complete the pdf document attached below and send to

If you have any questions about BREEZ, please contact the team by email:


Customer journey (PDF) [142KB]

Expression of interest form (PDF) [324KB]

LED Lighting guidance (PDF) [332KB]

BREEZ LED lighting proposal summary and CALCs (PDF) [558KB]

Heating proposal summary and calcs (PDF) [563KB]

Client Quotes

"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

"BREEZ has allowed our business to bring forward capital expenditure by over a year and have an immediate positive impact on both our energy usage and carbon emissions. With the help of the scheme we have upgraded an old inefficient heating system to new highly efficient alternative. The energy cost savings generated by the new system were calculated to repay the upfront cost in 5.7 years but with a 50% grant towards the upfront cost payback terms was reduced to just under 3 years. 

From the start of the process to completion using BREEZ has been effortless. The process for application was well guided and assistance was offered wherever needed. We cannot thank the BREEZ team enough and would highly recommend the service to any business looking to cut energy costs and improve their carbon footprint". 

Business Owner - Highfield Hotel

Case Studies

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


Page last updated 1 July 2024 to reflect the change from seven years to four years for the payback terms for LED lighting.

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