How Scotland is pushing building energy efficiency targets

After the introduction of Section 63 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act, there has been some speculation regarding the effectiveness of the legislation, such as if the floor area should be increased or if the legislation should abolish Action Plans and Display Energy Certificates (DECs) for firmer analysis tools.

That speculation has now become somewhat truthful as Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, identified in her speech at All Energy conference in Glasgow on 2nd May 2018. The First Minister’s goal is for all homes in Scotland to reach an EPC rating of C by 2040. An ambitious yet vitally important goal in order for Scotland to race ahead in the bid for the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Research carried out in 2016 outlined that 39% of domestic properties in Scotland had an EPC rating of C. Therefore, proving that there is a substantial number of domestic properties that aren’t close to meeting the target, and could even fall within poor rated EPC categories, such as F and G rated properties. With the EPC rating scale from A-G, an EPC rating of C is considered high on the scale which could be an extremely difficult and ambitious target for privately rented homes that currently have EPCs of E and lower.

The detailed expectations outlined by the First Minister are as follows:

  • By 2022 – Private rented homes to achieve an EPC rating of E or above.
  • By 2025 – Private rented homes to achieve an EPC rating of D or above.
  • By 2030 – Private rented homes to achieve an EPC rating of C or above. Households in fuel poverty to also achieve an EPC rating of C or above.
  • By 2040 – All Scottish homes to achieve an EPC rating of C or above.

In terms of non-domestic, it can be said that the current speculation about Section 63 could come into effect as there are possibilities that DECs may be removed. Set out in the Energy Efficient Scotland programme (now replacing Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme), it states that there is a benchmarking system to measure and target performance with firm plans expected to be announced in 2020 for non-domestic properties. Firmer plans are  necessary as in July 2017, research demonstrated that out of 30,000 non-domestic buildings that have an EPC assessment, just 5% have an EPC rating of B, 22% have an EPC rating of C or D and 73% have an EPC rated E or below. From the statistics, it is clear that a considerable amount of attention is needed for non-domestic properties in order to achieve the Energy Efficient Scotland standard ahead of 2040.

These are ambitious goals for Scotland, however, through some of the accomplishments Scotland has achieved within the energy industry, there is no doubt that Scotland can continue to demonstrate its ability to be a sustainability leader within Europe.

For example, within Scotland’s new Energy Strategy, which was published on 20th December 2017, another strong target has been set to see half of all energy (for heat, transport and electricity) to come from renewable sources by 2030. In the same year, Scotland was referred to as a ‘world leader for renewables’ through a number of completed projects, such as establishing the world’s first floating wind farm.

The First Minister also announced that £54.5 million worth of funding has been allocated to support efforts to tackle fuel poverty and energy efficiency. As investment continues to grow to improve energy efficiency in buildings, it’s crucial for private companies, landlords, housing associations etc. to implement this into their long and short-term goals.

The UK government introduced the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) in April 2018 in England and Wales, however, in May 2018, one month on from its introduction, it is apparent that many property owners have still not started the changes required to improve their EPC rating. More worryingly, a leading property law specialist from Furley Page, has warned that many landlords are still unaware of the MEES regulations. With such unawareness, this could be a factor which affects the UK’s ability to achieve the required targets set out for 2050.

In conclusion, through new strategies and investment in sustainability, it is evident that Scotland understands the importance of improving its building stock if we want to achieve the intended targets and it is evident, through previous examples, that Scotland is more than capable of achieving these goals.

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