Scotland’s recent Heat in Buildings Strategy sets out a plan to achieve the ambitious target for all Scottish buildings to be decarbonised by 2045. In practice this means replacing the heating systems of nearly 90% of Scotland’s 2.5 million homes that are currently heated with fossil fuels. As part of its regulatory framework, the Strategy states that all homes should achieve a minimum energy performance, defined as Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) C, by 2033. And all fossil fuel boilers will be phased out beginning in 2025. In short, there’s a lot to do over the next 20 years.
In Owning the future: A framework of regulations for decarbonising owner-occupied homes in Scotland, authors Dr. Catrin Maby and Louise Sunderland take a deep dive into the Strategy, focusing specifically on the owner-occupied building stock. The proposals in this report aim to identify and fill gaps in the framework of regulations, as well as ensure that implementation is well timed and staged so that fabric improvements are completed before heating systems are changed. The proposals also take into account different building types and the need to decarbonise higher carbon fuels first. Regulations alone, however, do not guarantee successful renovations, so the report outlines essential funding, finance, practical support and safeguards for affordability that must come alongside.
The authors put forth a number of recommendations on how to best strengthen the Strategy. Although specifically designed for Scotland, these recommendations may be applicable to any government designing an efficient, effective and fair regulatory framework:
- Remove uncertainty on the decarbonisation options for buildings to ensure all actions are no regrets
- Enable effective standards through changes to EPCs and the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP)
- Introduce a fabric energy efficiency standard to enable efficient, flexible heating
- Phase out fossil fuels for heating through early incentives, and regulatory triggers and backstops
- Enable alternative compliance routes for more complex, multi-occupancy buildings
- Utilise existing compliance structures and resource local authorities to enable and enforce
You can find the report’s executive summary here.