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Discussion paper

20 June 2023

A Just Transition in built environment and construction

Draft Just Transition Outcomes for Built Environment and Construction:

  • Jobs, Skills and Economic Opportunities,
  • Communities and Places e.g. community involvement in decisions and design of public buildings,
  • People and equity e.g. fuel poverty, energy efficiency, heat decarbonisation and property resilience and insurance,
  • Environment, Biodiversity and Adaptation e.g. circular economy supply chain and resilience of public buildings.

Discussion Themes:

  • Procurement as a lever for the transition,
  • Building a skilled labour force,
  • An innovative, internationally competitive, industry,
  • Delivering consistent, sustainable standards,
  • Maximising the manufacturing base in Scotland.

Policy Context

The sector will underpin the delivery of our net zero future throughout Scotland, delivering our homes, schools, hospitals and workplaces.

A focus on standards in the construction sector will be critical for emissions reductions, sustainability, climate resilience and, crucially, for attracting the skilled and diverse workforce required to deliver these.

(NB Significant areas of policy overlap with other national strategies, e.g. discussion of heat decarbonisation could sit in both of the Just Transition Plans for Energy or Built Environment and Construction. Access to affordable, sustainable, comfortable housing is not directly dealt with in this Plan).

Examples of Issues

The UK has the oldest housing stock in Europe and the scale of change needed across our built environment is significant. Women and ethnic minorities, in particular, are underrepresented in the workforce. Currently, 280,000 homes are at risk of flooding. It is estimated that 20% of homes in the UK as a whole are already overheating and 30% of flats. Households living in tenement properties tend to be smaller than the average household in Scotland, with a higher proportion of single-person households and they also tend to have a higher proportion of households in the 25-34 age group compared to the general population in Scotland and a higher proportion of households in lower income groups. Levels of insulation are higher in the social housing sector compared to the private sector.

Key Points for the Public Sector

The Construction Accord established a shared vision for the construction industry and the public sector, including key principles such as fair work, diversity and inclusion.

There is scope for local authorities to build upon successful [fuel poverty and energy efficiency] schemes and projects, exploring the potential of social housing as a pipeline to kickstart the market in retrofit.

Procurement theme. Government spending makes up nearly half (£3.4 billion in 2021-22) of all money spent in the construction sector (circa £7 billion). The £2bn joint SG/LG Learning Estate Infrastructure Programme is an investment programme focused on delivering high quality, low carbon learning environments that support sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Sustainable Standards theme. Drive uptake of embodied carbon accounting more widely in the industry to improve emissions reporting. The public sector stands to play a major part not only in decarbonising the built environment but in leading the way in enhancing standards for others to follow. Pilot work already underway through voluntary programmes such as the Net Zero Public Sector Buildings Standard - Scottish Government’s Sustainability in Construction Guidance already recommends the standard as part of a wider suite of considerations to enhance the sustainability of publicly procured buildings.

Manufacturing base (supply chain) theme. Scottish Futures Trust support a network of five local hubs. Operating across five geographical areas, the public sector bodies in each of the five areas have come together and appointed a private sector development partner to form a joint venture company, known as a hubCo to deliver new community facilities.

Support Programmes

CARES (Community & Renewable Energy scheme) – Advice and funding support for community groups and other relevant groups seeking to explore renewable energy options. Delivered by local energy savings trust.

Public Sector Non-Domestic Energy Efficiency Framework - Energy performance contract framework designed for larger public sector projects. Improvement measures financed through savings.

Investing £200m into Social Housing Net Zero Heat Fund.

£200m Scottish Green Public Sector Estate Scheme, supporting leadership for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation right across the public sector.