‘We can’t incentivise our way out of Climate Change’

Existing Homes Alliance release latest research report: Owning the Future: A framework of regulations for decarbonising owner-occupied homes in Scotland

‘We can’t incentivise our way out of Climate Change’ 

 Last week BEFS attended a briefing hosted by the Existing Homes Alliance, to launch the latest research report Owning the Future: A framework of regulations for decarbonising owner-occupied homes in Scotland. Building on the Scottish Government’s Heat in Buildings Strategy, the report explores the regulations and supportive framework needed to decarbonise Scotland’s owner-occupied homes. The event was chaired by Ariane Burgess, MSP and the presentations were followed by round table discussion, with a view to raising the emergent key points with the Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights. 

 Why regulate? We are talking about the same problems as 15 years ago. We need to get a move on…  

 The session and research explored how to respond to the climate emergency, recognising the very real issue of fuel poverty and the cost-of-living crisis, alongside increases in energy prices. Whilst not new, these conversations are now framed by the climate crisis and Scotland’s net zero targets; in recognition that time is ticking on, the Existing Homes Alliance (EHA) is working towards the introduction of regulations on energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation, to provide clarity to homeowners and supply chains as they plan for the future. 

 The research presented recommendations including:

  • A ‘renewable heat ready’ standard that all existing homes should meet by 2030
  • A zero-emissions heat standard that should be met when a boiler is replaced – effective from 2025 for off-gas grid areas and from 2030 for on-gas grid areas
  • A specific regulatory regime for multi-occupancy buildings, focused on a ‘whole-building’ approach and requiring a whole building fabric efficiency standard
  • 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 

BEFS was pleased to see a variety of stakeholders in the room, ranging from representatives for the historic and built environment, local authority interests, and energy efficiency/carbon reduction solutions. Discussions covered ‘trigger points’ for energy improvements and EPC metrics that are not cost based, rather assessing homes against how they will reach the goal of decarbonisation and heat loss.  

Getting the message across 

One of the challenges was agreed to be, that ‘very few people are aware of what net zero means for them and their homes’. 

‘Reducing energy use and reliance on imports and increasing investment and jobs in clean energy sectors are clear economic wins. Perhaps the most compelling benefits, however, are offered to households in the form of healthy homes, lower bills and massively reduced exposure to highly volatile fossil fuel prices.’ EHA 

At the end of the session the room agreed that regulation, combined with clear messages about the need for change – and the relevance of this to individuals, homes, communities, and places – is key, as well as that, fundamentally, regulations cannot be introduced without an enabling framework.  

Read the full report here