Energy Efficient Scotland: Improving energy efficiency in owner occupied homes

Published: 23 April 2020

Energy Systems Catapult has responded to a consultation by the Scottish Government seeking views on proposals to set a standard for energy efficiency and to make it mandatory for homeowners from 2024 onwards.

The Catapult welcomes the Scottish Government’s focus on improving the energy efficiency of buildings, particularly in contributing to meeting Scotland’s Climate Change Emissions Reductions Targets.

We have been working on the challenges of decarbonising buildings across the UK for a number of years, and have pioneered new concepts including:

  • Local Area Energy Planning: an approach that models the unique characteristics of a local area, including the type of building stock, existing energy networks, heating technologies available, future electrification of cars, as well as local spatial constraints and opportunities.
  • Heat as a Service: a new model for how businesses sell heating.
  • Six Steps to Zero Carbon Buildings: six potential steps to build markets to deliver Net Zero aggregated solutions by 2050.

Key points:

  • We strongly agree with the concept of a legally-binding minimum standard that all building owners (i.e. including owner-occupiers) should meet as part of the societal effort to deliver Net Zero by 2050. However, on balance we think it is more appropriate to base a new legal requirement for owner occupiers, on the Environmental Impact Rating part of the EPC, in the first instance.
  • We believe it would be better to base the standard in the first instance on the Environmental Impact Rating component of the EPC. In the longer term we believe that a multi-layered, long-term policy framework will be needed to drive the transition to zero carbon for all buildings.
  • In the medium term we believe that the EPC rating system itself should be reformed and updated through a smarter, more accurate and valid new system of Carbon Performance Certification, harnessing digitalisation and better measurement of building carbon performance. This would substantially reduce the risk of misuse and gaming around compliance.
  • We fully support and understand the desire to drive improvement in building fabric. However, we believe that an exclusive focus on ‘fabric first’ will risk imposing sub-optimal solutions on a significant proportion of properties.
  • If the Scottish Government prioritises a prompt move to introduce a new standard for owner occupied properties, then we believe this should be based on Environmental Impact Rating in the first instance. This would then need to be reviewed in the longer term, to align ultimately with ultimate delivery of zero carbon buildings. This could form part of longer term reforms to the EPC system so that it is based on more accurate, performance assessment (linked to smart meter data), as part of a medium term migration to a system of Carbon Performance Certification.
  • We support the early introduction of a mandatory standard, provided it is based on Environmental Impact Rating. We also support longer-term reform of the EPC system, migrating towards a system based more clearly on robust and accurate Carbon Performance Certification. Market trials can be used to inform the reform process to ensure that the detailed design and assessment of Carbon Performance standards works well in practice.

Download our response further details.