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Energy Efficiency National Targets and Key Current (and Expected) Policies

September 2023

This page primarily relates to non-domestic existing buildings, see here for energy efficiency targets relating to domestic buildings and new builds.

National Targets

  • By 2033, Scotland’s buildings will be better insulated, have lower demand for heat, and will be more energy efficient. No specific energy efficiency targets have been set for non-domestic buildings as yet, although the expected Heat in Buildings Bill may introduce more specific targets or thresholds. Currently, such buildings should be assessed and improved to the extent that is technically feasible and cost effective.
  • The government’s Learning Estate Strategy sets an ambitious energy efficiency target of 67 kWh/m2/yr for school buildings replaced or upgraded through the £1 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme.

Key Legislation and Policies

  • Chapter 3 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 relates to Energy Efficiency:
  • Section 44 of the Act places a duty on public bodies, in exercising their functions, to contribute to the delivery of the Scotland’s emission reduction targets
  • Under Section 63 (Energy Performance of Non Domestic Buildings) the energy performance of and greenhouse gases associated with non-domestic buildings must be assessed and building owners are required to take measures to improve energy performance.
  • Section 65 gives powers to enable local councils to give council tax and non-domestic rates rebates for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements made to homes and other buildings.
  • The Planning (Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2015 is relevant for historical and listed buildings.
  • The government’s Heat in Buildings Programme (previously the Energy Efficient Scotland Programme) is the primary vehicle for reducing energy demand and carbon emissions from Scotland's existing buildings, and for eliminating poor energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty. Energy Efficient Scotland (EES) was a Scottish Government initiative aimed at improving energy efficiency in buildings. It delivers across two key policy areas: fuel poverty and climate change, as detailed in their 20-year plan route map (May 2018). Analysis (2019) of responses to public consultation on further development of EES can be found here.

Looking Ahead

  • The Heat in Buildings Strategy lays out that the Scottish Government intends to develop a new regulatory framework for zero emissions heating and energy efficiency in non-domestic buildings by 2025. A call for evidence was published in 2021 and in May 2022 the government published their response to this. The New Build Heat Standard (to come into force on 1 April 2024) will increase the deployment of zero direct emissions heating technologies by banning the installation of fossil fuel boiler.
  • In the mid-2020s, there will be the first of a series of Energy Efficient Scotland Programme reviews which will take into account the developing local energy systems in Scotland, as set out in Scotland’s Energy Strategy, as well as the decisions made by the UK Government on the mains gas network and the electricity network.
  • Regarding listed buildings, the government is working with stakeholders, including Historic Environment Scotland, to consider what specific support may be needed within regulations in reducing their demand for heat.
  • The Net Zero Public Sector Buildings Standard was created on behalf of the Scottish government by Scottish Futures Trust, Zero Waste Scotland and Health Facilities Scotland to support the decarbonisation of all Scottish public sector non-domestic buildings. Although it is currently aimed at new build and major refurbishments this work is being extended to look at the existing buildings in the context of retrofit and renovation.
  • The UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard is being currently developed, it will set out metrics by which net zero carbon performance is evaluated, as well as performance targets and limits that need to be met. These are likely to include energy use, space heating/cooling demand and peak load.