The Scottish Government has taken a decisive step towards achieving its net zero targets. It is proposing new energy efficiency laws aimed at reducing emissions in homes and buildings. This progressive approach stands in contrast to the UK Government’s recent scaling back of net zero commitments. In a bid to accelerate the transition to clean energy, Scotland is considering a series of measures. 

Energy Efficiency Overview 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Scotland’s commitment to achieving net zero by 2045 is the driving force behind the proposed legislation. Unlike the UK Government’s recent policy adjustments, Scotland is pushing for swift action in replacing fossil fuel heating and enhancing energy efficiency across all properties. 

Proposed Energy Efficiency Laws ⚖️

◾️ New Laws for Owner-Occupied Homes by 2033

Homeowners are proposed to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard by the end of 2033. This focuses on properties with ‘polluting heating systems’ like gas and oil boilers. 

The specific standard is yet to be defined, but indications suggest a level equivalent to EPC C, where technically feasible and cost-effective. 

◾️ Energy Efficiency Standard for the Private Rented Sector

Scotland is considering implementing its own minimum energy efficiency standard. Landlords would be required to meet this standard by the end of 2028. Helping to address the generally poorer energy efficiency of rental properties. 

We have some idea of what we can expect here, with the Scottish Government stating the following within its 2021 Heat in Buildings Strategy documents: 

“All private rented sector properties to reach a minimum standard equivalent to EPC C, where technically feasible and cost effective, at change of tenancy, with a backstop of 2028 for all remaining existing properties”. 

◾️ End Use of Polluting Heating Systems by 2045

As part of its net zero commitment, Scotland aims to phase out the use of polluting heating systems like gas boilers, oil boilers, or LPG in all homes and non-domestic buildings by the end of 2045. 

Building owners will have the flexibility to adopt clean heating systems, including heat networks, heat pumps, and potentially renewable hydrogen. 

◾️ Early Transition for Public Buildings

Public buildings owned by Scottish authorities are expected to transition to clean heating systems even earlier, targeting completion by the end of 2038. 

Challenges and Acknowledgements 🤔

◾️ Challenges

Scotland’s Zero Carbon Buildings Minister, Patrick Harvie, acknowledges the magnitude of the proposed changes and the associated challenges, especially considering the current cost of living crisis. 

◾️ Long-Term Benefits

Despite the acknowledged challenges, the move towards clean heating systems is seen as essential for long-term cost reduction and emissions reduction, given that buildings contribute to around 20% of all Scotland’s emissions. 

Conclusion 🌍 

Scotland’s proactive stance on energy efficiency aligns with its ambitious net zero targets, setting an example for other regions. The proposed laws, if implemented, have the potential to drive significant changes in how properties are heated and the overall energy efficiency standards across the country. As the consultation period unfolds, stakeholders will play a crucial role in refining these proposals to strike the right balance between environmental goals and practical considerations. The consultation is open until the 8th March 2024. 

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