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Scottish New Build Heat Standard

New-Build-Heat-Standard

Scotland is making substantial inroads in decarbonisation and tackling climate change. The country aims to reduce greenhouse gasses emissions to net-zero by 2045 and reduce them by 15% by 2030. Already 90% of Scotland's electricity supply is from renewables, and, encouraged by current progress, the Scottish Government is now focusing on reducing emissions from heating buildings and is heavily targeting new buildings.

Currently, emissions from buildings account for 20% of the country's total greenhouse emissions. To tackle this, they are proposing a "new build heat standard" that aims to reduce the emissions from new builds, including homes and non-residential buildings, to zero direct emissions at the point of use by 2024. To this effect, they have launched a consultation process that remains open until early March 2021.

Here we look at what they are proposing, the implications, and how to get involved in the consultation process.

 New build regulations

The new build regulations will compel developers to ensure that new builds' heating and cooling requirements achieve zero-direct emissions at the point of use by 2045. Additional rules will also be introduced to regulate emissions in existing buildings. While recognising that new builds' contribution to total emissions is relatively small, the Government considers adding any new emissions would be counter-productive. By acting now, they also avoid costly future building retrofits. From 2024, all new homes and non-residential buildings must employ zero-emission heating and cooling systems. They must also provide high-level energy efficiency to reduce total heat demand.

Consultation document 

The Scottish Government published its consultation document on these proposals recently. The proposal details potential outcomes and seeks views from all stakeholders on the best ways to introduce them that are deliverable and achieve their goals. An external working group, the Good Homes Alliance, is providing input to the Scottish Government.

The proposals also have the backing of the Scottish Greens who also favour targeting all existing homes with retrofits to tackle households in fuel poverty – this accounts for 25% of Scotland's current housing stock.

Key points of the residential new build heat standard 

Key points of the standard* It is important to stress that "zero direct emissions at the point of use" is very different from "net-zero emissions". While the latter allows offsetting, there is no such caveat with zero-direct emissions where all heating and cooling technologies must be emission-free.

The consultation document highlights several key points. These include:
  • No direct greenhouse emissions at the point of use – this confines the standard to emissions that the householder controls.
  • Compliance methodologies – the document does not set out how to ensure compliance with the standard. Potential methods will be addressed in a technical consultation document to be published later in 2021.
  • Upstream energy - the standard doesn't apply to the upstream supply of electricity and thermal energy. The standard rates upstream emissions at net-zero and considers them the responsibility of electricity/thermal-energy suppliers.
  • Heat networks can provide up to 36% fuel savings, so where new-builds are in a Heat Network Zone, they must use the network. Such networks exist in London and are being planned for Scotland.
  • Exceptions – Important exceptions to the standard include cooking and process heating. However, Scotland's overall greenhouse gas emission targets include reducing greenhouse emissions from these.

Challenges and opportunities

While acknowledging that more are likely to arise, the document addresses several challenges and opportunities already identified. The primary challenge is developing the necessary skills and supply chains, which the Government's Future Skills Action Plan is currently addressing.

Another critical challenge is the increased demand on the electricity supply grid. Apart from those that use hydrogen, most heating and cooling appliances are likely to be based on electrically powered heat pumps. The roll-out of electric vehicles will add substantially to the total electrical load. Domestic charge points and heat pumps have an estimated annual electricity demand of up to 4,000 kWh and 6,000 kWh per household, respectively – almost three times the current level.

An additional point is that the regulations are likely to cause building costs to increase significantly. However, increased costs may be offset by grants from the Scottish Government.

 Getting involved in the Scottish Government consultation

The consultation process closes on 3 March 2021 and is available on the Scottish Government website 

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