10 January 2024

Blog: Scotland’s Heat in Buildings Standard: Consultation now open!

John Maslen, our Scotland based Network Development Manager, discusses.

On 28th November 2023 the Scottish Government published a public consultation on its proposed Heat in Building Standard.

To meet its Net Zero obligations, Scotland needs to act faster than the UK Government on policies that impact how its buildings will be transitioned to low carbon heating. At current rates, achieving Net Zero for its buildings would take several hundred years. So it is accepted that greater intervention is required to stimulate more demand for clean heating systems. Over time it is expected that moving from high to low carbon heating solutions will become the new normal.

The consultation sets out the following plans:

• It intends to set a backstop date of 2045 after which the use of polluting heating systems in all buildings will be prohibited;

• It suggests that, once the Bill has been approved and further regulations consulted on, a ‘grace period’ (duration to be determined but likely 2-5 years) will be offered to those purchasing a domestic or commercial premises during which time they will need to transition to a clean heating system;

• It proposes the introduction of new laws that require private landlords to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard for their properties by 2028 and most homeowners to meet a reasonable minimum energy efficiency standard by 2033.

It acknowledges current cost pressures on households and businesses. To address this it aims to design regulations sensitively (through offering grants, loans and exemptions) to ensure they are “affordable, fair and feasible” in line with a Just Transition.

Heat Networks and Heat Network Zoning

The Heat in Buildings Standard highlights there are around 30,000 homes and 3,000 non-domestic premises connected to heat networks in Scotland just now. Most networks are very small, most use gas CHP as their heat supply. They are keen to see the number of connections increase substantially. They also want to see all existing heat networks decarbonise through getting most of their heat from renewables or bioenergy by 2045.

To enable this rapid expansion the Scottish Government propose to create new laws that will grant powers to local authorities and Scottish Ministers to require existing buildings within a designated Heat Network Zone to end their use of polluting heating systems. This is possible either through connecting to their local heat network or implementing an alternative clean heating solution. These new powers will also require new buildings within Heat Network Zones to connect to a heat network where available. [Currently all Heat Network Zones as defined in Local Authority LHEES are considered ‘proposed’ until they have completed a formal designation process.] A measure like this would give heat network developers and finance providers the confidence they need to invest in these solutions.

In order to ensure buildings in a Heat Network Zone are not forced to adopt building-level solutions prematurely, it is proposed that any buildings within a designated Heat Network Zone will not need to meet the Heat in Buildings Standard following a property purchase until a heat network becomes available.
They also propose that occupiers of non-domestic properties should be required to provide information about unused heat that is emitted on their premises. In addition they are consulting on whether certain types of buildings that emit this waste heat should be required to supply this into heat networks where this is practical.

To support the transition, the Scottish Government are encouraging the UK Government to take a number of actions in areas that are reserved to Westminster including:

• To make a clear and fast decision on the future role of our gas networks in the transition to clean heat

• To deliver regulations which require the energy and installer markets to help accelerate that transition

• To reduce the cost of electricity in a way that makes the vast majority of clean heating systems cheaper to run.

To contribute to the consultation see Delivering net zero for Scotland's buildings - Heat in Buildings Bill: consultation - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)