Home energy use accounts for around a quarter of carbon emissions in Scotland. It is clear that cutting emissions from existing housing must have a central place in the Scottish Government’s plans to meet the Scottish Climate Change Act’s emission reduction targets of 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The Scottish Government has significant powers to bring about this change.
Until recently, much of the policy debate on housing and climate change in Scotland has focused on new homes, and these measures are important for driving innovation and markets in low and zero carbon technologies. However, existing homes deserve even greater policy focus. In 2050 85% of existing homes will still be standing and in use as homes for Scottish families. Improving residential energy and water efficiency is one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing carbon emissions, while at the same time addressing fuel poverty. Urgent investment and action is required to seize this opportunity.
Government needs to make energy efficiency a National Infrastructure Priority and provide a comprehensive approach over a minimum 10 year period to reduce energy use and switch to low carbon heat. No other investment can achieve so much to help the people and households who are living in fuel poverty, whilst stimulating economic growth and creating jobs in every part of Scotland. It will improve people’s health and cut household fuel bills. It will help ensure that all of Scotland’s children grow up in a warm environment. It is also critical to 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.
Scotland’s housing is notorious for its poor energy efficiency. Nearly 40% of households live in fuel poverty and one-third of homes are hard-to-treat. 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 green jobs and boosting the hard-pressed 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. A National Infrastructure Priority for energy efficiency with an overall goal for all housing to reach the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C by 2025, with an iterim milestone of 70% by 2020.
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, that specify that basic standards must be met at key trigger points in a property’s life, such as before sale or rental, or within a certain period of the introduction of the certificate, or. 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.
Provide a mix of widely available low interest loans, council tax rebates and grants which will make low carbon choices possible for all. The poorest households must be prioritised for assistance to eliminate fuel poverty by 2016.
5. New service offerings, products and packages for retrofit.
Stimulate the market to provide innovative advice services on whole-house retrofit, and one-stop shop services for installing and financing home energy improvements. 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 fuel use and stay warmer. A national advice service is provided by the Energy Saving Scotland advice centres managed by the Energy Saving Trust and there are also some other local advice centres managed by local authorities or charities. An enhanced role for these services will be critical in raising awareness, providing comprehensive advice and support to householders on funding and installation 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 Energy Saving Trust’s Home Energy Efficiency Database as the main tool for monitoring progress and targeting resources. Establish more ‘triggers’ for EPCs to aid the population of a database for the whole housing stock – for example, when properties are remortgaged, new tenancy agreements made, and planning permission sought.
8. Reliable quality control and up-skilling on low and zero-carbon technologies.
Scottish Government recognition of and support for a single accreditation and certification scheme for microgeneration equipment and installation, which aims to provide consumers with confidence in the quality of equipment and installation from the microgeneration industry. This must go hand-in-hand with a comprehensive low-carbon skills strategy, aimed at ensuring high quality training and modern apprenticeships in the industry matched with appropriate certification schemes. 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. The exemplars will show how these homes can be attractive, feasible and aspirational, and should specifically include flatted properties.
10. Maximise use of newly devolved powers and influence UK energy and tax policy incentives to cut emissions.
Use new powers to design delivery of supplier obligation scheme to suit Scottish needs. Work with the UK Government and its agencies to ensure relevant energy policies support Scottish ambitions for housing.