More than half of all energy used in Scotland goes into heating buildings. At the same time, over a quarter of Scotland’s households are living in fuel poverty, unable to afford a warm, comfortable home and more than a million homes fall below the energy efficiency level recommended for our health. Improving the energy performance of Scotland’s existing housing stock must have a central place in the Scottish Government’s plans to meet climate change targets and to eradicate fuel poverty. The Scottish Government has the power to bring about this change.
Much of the policy debate on housing focuses on new affordable housing supply. Yet existing homes which are warm, low carbon and affordable to heat, are a critical part of a housing stock that meets Scotland’s needs now and in the future. More than 80% of existing homes will still be in use in 2050. Improving residential energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing carbon emissions, while at the same time addressing fuel poverty and creating jobs across the country. Urgent investment and action is required to seize this opportunity.
In 2015, the Scottish Government made the energy efficiency of buildings a National Infrastructure Priority, pledging to take a comprehensive approach over a sustained period to reducing energy use and switching to low carbon heat. No other infrastructure investment can achieve so much to help people living in fuel poverty, whilst stimulating economic growth and creating jobs in every part of Scotland. Implemented in the right way, this infrastructure priority will improve people’s health and cut household fuel bills. And it will play a critical role in addressing national challenges of safeguarding energy security and tackling climate change.
This Declaration sets out an agenda for Scotland’s existing housing to make it warm, affordable and low carbon.
Poor energy performance is a significant problem in Scotland’s housing with over one quarter of households living in fuel poverty. Only a bold approach to retrofitting homes throughout Scotland can tackle these problems at the pace of change required. Improving the energy performance of Scotland’s existing homes presents massive opportunities – helping to eradicate fuel poverty and its associated mortality and health problems; stimulating sustainable jobs and boosting the building industry; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Who needs to be involved?
This Declaration invites all sectors to play their part in making sustainable, low carbon homes a reality across the whole of Scotland’s housing stock.
Building Trade and Installers
Manufacturers and Suppliers
10 Key Recommendations
1. The Scottish Energy Efficiency Programme, the cornerstone of the National Infrastructure Priority for energy efficiency, should have an overall goal for the vast majority of housing (where technically feasible and appropriate) to reach the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C by 2025.
It is increasingly recognised that existing homes must be expected to deliver more and sooner than other sectors, hence an ambitious target is required. Current programmes are not achieving the pace and scale of change required. The strategy must include firm targets on numbers of households to be transformed and the energy savings to be delivered.
2. The introduction of new regulation and planning controls, backed by market incentives, to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes.
The introduction of minimum energy performance standards for all existing homes, which specify that basic standards must be met at key trigger points in a property’s life. This should start with the private rented sector and be extended to the owner-occupied sector. To gain public acceptance, regulation will need to be accompanied by a long-term, well-funded programme of advice, support and a range of incentives to support compliance whilst ensuring that consumer protection and redress are sufficiently robust to give consumers the confidence to invest in measures. In addition, regulation should be accompanied by support for enforcement and evaluation. Building regulations should also be used to promote better energy performance of existing homes, for example through enhanced consequential improvement requirements.
3. Scotland-wide area-based schemes to deliver retrofit of existing homes, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, street by street, alongside a national, demand led programme.
The retrofit strategy should be delivered through area-based schemes, with something available for everyone, regardless of property or financial circumstances. Community energy schemes should also be supported wherever feasible.
4. A range of financial incentives to encourage investment in energy efficiency and micro-generation.
The Scottish Government should provide a mix of widely available incentives such as low or zero interest loans, tax incentives and grants which will make low carbon choices possible for all. The poorest households must be prioritised for assistance to eliminate fuel poverty.
5. New service offerings, products and packages for retrofit.
Stimulate the market through incentives, support, and demonstrations to provide innovative advice, design and build services on whole-house retrofit. This would include one-stop shop services for advice, financing and installing quality-assured home energy improvements including redress mechanisms for when things go wrong. This will support a new industry around low carbon homes, building expertise, skills and quality for Scotland and for export.
6. Better information on household energy use and its carbon emissions for consumers.
Homeowners need clear advice and information if they are to successfully cut emissions, reduce energy use and stay warmer. There is a national advice service funded by the Scottish Government and other local advice centres managed by local authorities or charities. An enhanced role for these services will be critical in raising awareness, providing trusted, comprehensive advice and support to householders on funding, installation and use of energy efficiency and microgeneration improvements.
7. Better energy performance data on existing housing.
Improve the quality and comparability of data sources on the energy performance of existing homes, with a focus on the national Home Energy Efficiency Database as the main tool for monitoring progress and targeting resources. Improve the underpinning methodology and quality assurance of EPCs so they are more accurate and robust. Establish more ‘triggers’ for EPCs to aid the population of a database for the whole housing stock – for example, when properties are re-mortgaged, new tenancy agreements made, and planning permission sought.
8. Reliable quality control and up-skilling on low and zero-carbon technologies.
Develop a comprehensive low-carbon skills strategy, supporting existing and new businesses in the supply chain, to ensure high quality training and modern apprenticeships matched with appropriate certification schemes. Good communications, high quality installations, and good customer service are required, backed up by robust consumer protection for any substandard practices. Better enforcement of existing building regulations is also required, to ensure we are not building in problems for the future.
9. A major programme to catalogue and showcase existing and ongoing exemplar low energy refurbishments.
Work with housing associations, local authorities and communities to establish a range of exemplar refurbished properties the length and breadth of Scotland, building on the Green Homes Network and Retrofit Scotland. The exemplars will show how a wide variety of homes can become warmer, more comfortable and more attractive through improved energy efficiency and low carbon improvements. These should specifically include flatted properties.
10. Maximise use of devolved powers and influence UK policy to improve energy efficiency.
The Scottish Government should ensure that devolved powers, including new powers on social security, are used to their full effect to tackle fuel poverty, cold homes and the contribution of Scotland’s homes to climate change. The Government should continue to work with the UK Government and its agencies to ensure relevant energy policies support Scottish ambitions for existing housing
 Scottish Energy Strategy, 2017 Scottish Government