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Action on Climate Change: Proposals for Improving the Energy Performance of Existing Non-domestic Buildings - A Consultation by the Scottish Government


02 Introduction

2.1 The small changes that each of us can make are important. Businesses and public services can reduce emissions by making changes to the way they provide their services, including how they run their business premises. Many of the steps we can take save money, and so cut fuel bills, boost competitiveness or release money for frontline services, as well as saving energy.

2.2 We all have a role to play in making environmentally sustainable behaviour the norm rather than something we do when we remember. Many businesses have already acted to improve the energy performance of their premises and many more will be considering such action in recognition of increasing fuel costs. Local authorities are already taking action as part of Scotland's Climate Change Declaration and many businesses have corporate social responsibility policies that include measures to reduce carbon emissions.

2.3 The Scottish Government wants to encourage consumers, businesses and public bodies to build on the action many are already taking voluntarily to reduce their emissions, including emissions from buildings. The Scottish Government already funds a wide range of information and advice services and grant and loan schemes to stimulate and encourage action, which are listed at the end of this section.

2.4 This encouragement and these incentives sit alongside existing legal requirements that ensure that owners, builders and others with an interest in the built environment meet certain standards. For example, building regulations require that when windows or boilers are replaced they must meet particular standards of energy performance. The Scottish Government would prefer to achieve the reduced carbon emissions we need through voluntary action alone. However, looking to the future, we recognise that there may be a role for additional legislation that enables or requires further action to be taken, if necessary. We want to canvass opinion on whether or not we need to have powers that could, if required, compel building owners and others to take action to improve the energy performance of non-domestic buildings in order to reduce carbon emissions.

2.5 This consultation paper sets out outline proposals for measures to require the assessment of the energy performance of non-domestic buildings and the implementation of measures to reduce carbon emissions. At this stage, the Scottish Government is seeking views on which such measures are required and the general principles underpinning such measures with a view to the introduction of broad enabling powers. Should Ministers wish to use these enabling powers to introduce specific measures in the future the intention would be consult further on detailed regulatory proposals and guidance at that time which would set out the detail of how these proposals would work in practice. A partial Regulatory Impact Assessment ( RIA) is attached in Annex A. However, a further RIA would also be carried out on any more detailed regulatory proposals that are developed following consultation.

Government incentives to encourage action:

Business sector

  • Interest free loans of up to £100,000 are available to help Small and Medium Sized Enterprises ( SMEs) finance energy saving and renewables measures.
  • Advice service for SMEs on energy efficiency and renewables from dedicated 'Business Advisers'.
  • On-site energy audits for all sizes of business.
  • Technical and change management guidance through a programme of 'Carbon Management'.
  • Low carbon building design advice.
  • Enhanced Capital Allowances help businesses to invest in energy saving equipment by claiming 100% first year capital allowances on qualifying plant and machinery. The investment is off-set against Corporation Tax.

Public sector

  • Interest free loan funds to help local authorities, Scottish Water, universities and colleges to finance energy saving and renewables measures.
  • Grants for the installation of microgeneration technologies are available to the public sector (including schools, hospitals, housing associations and local authorities).
  • On-site energy audits.
  • Technical and change management guidance through a programme of 'Carbon Management'.
  • Low carbon building design advice.

All sectors

  • The introduction of Energy Performance Certificates ( EPCs) which are required for large public buildings and for all buildings when they are built, sold or rented out.

Q1. Can we achieve the significant carbon emission reductions we need from non-domestic buildings by relying on the current measures and support available?