Building Standards Futures Board minutes: November 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Building Standards Futures Board on 20 November 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Craig Hatton (CH) Chair, Chief Executive, North Ayrshire Council
  • James Whiteford (JW), Director, Building Standards Hub
  • Alan McAulay (AMc), Director, Building Standards Hub
  • Jocelyne Fleming (JF), CIOB
  • Robert Nicol (RN), COSLA
  • Mark Lawler (ML), SER, Certification Scheme Providers
  • John-Paul Breslin (JPB), Chair, LABSS
  • Zoe Black (ZB), RIAS
  • Nigel Kerr (NK), Fife Council
  • Neil Mitchell (NM), Scottish Government
  • Stephen Garvin (SGa), Scottish Government
  • Colette Templeton (CT), Scottish Government  
  • Fiona Sinclair (FS), Scottish Government
  • Cameron Murdoch (CM), Scottish Government
  • Ken Craig (KC), Scottish Government
  • Daniel Foulds (DF), Scottish Government
  • Alan Rodden (AR), Scottish Government
  • Louise Kennedy (LK), Scottish Government
  • Linda Stewart (LS), Scottish Government


  • Colin Proctor (CP), Scottish Futures Trust (SFT)
  • Gordon Nelson (GN), FMB
  • Tamsie Thomson (TT), RIAS
  • Steven Scott (SS), Scottish Government
  • Stephen Good (SG), Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST)
  • Ron Fraser (RF), Construction Scotland
  • Robert Storey (RS), SER
  • Robert Toomey (RT), RICS
  • Steve Fawcett (SF), Homes for Scotland

Items and actions

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and noted apologies. 

ZB, RIAS, was welcomed to the meeting in place of TT.

The main focus of the meeting is an update from the Workforce Strategy and delivery of the Closure Report, with a short presentation on the Energy Standards Review: A Scottish Passivhaus Equivalent from the BSD Energy Team.

Note of meeting on 24 August 2023 and action points paper 83 (20/11/2023)

The note of the previous meeting was approved by the Board.

Action points paper 83 (20/11/2023)

The Board were updated on the progress of the actions from the previous meeting. These were closed and agreed.

Construction Leadership Forum and Construction Quality Improvement Collaborative

SGa provided an update to the Board on the Construction Leadership Forum. The Forum meets every two months with regular updates across the construction industry provided. It was noted at the previous meeting that the market is slowing but there were no signs to explain this at this stage.

SGa advised that a consultation on the Transformation Board is available Draft Transformation Action Plan.

The deadline for comments was Friday (17 November 2023) however views can be accommodated before COP Friday 24 November 2023.

Building standards – update

SGa advised that he attended a visit to the Dunfermline Learning Campus (DLC) project last week. Richard Lochhead, Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade and Chair of the Construction Leadership Forum, visited the site. The project is being used to support work on the Compliance Plan to inform the process and Compliance Plan Manager Role work which is being supported by the Construction Quality Improvement Collaborative (CQIC). The DLC is also the biggest education Passivhaus project in the UK.

The Flood Resilience Standards within Section 3 of the Technical Handbooks are being reviewed. While BSDs focus is on new builds there is also the need to consider existing buildings given the number of properties at risk of flooding in Scotland. Engagement is underway with the Working Group and a consultation is planned for 2024.

Discussion took place on Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). BSD have put in place a RAAC Coordination team which is working with colleagues in Government and across both the public and private sectors.

A cross-sector working group has been established to look at opportunities to create an electronic record for buildings with RAAC. The Group are looking at first steps for understanding RAAC across sectors while addressing remediation needs and funds required.

The annual Scottish Government budget exercise is currently underway with the settlement announcement expected on 19 December 2023. There are considerable pressures across the organisation. SGa explained the budgets available to BSD advising that as a small Division the impact may not be too great. However, there is a need to be aware of pressures which may impact in the next year on the budget available to support the work of the Futures Board.

Action: FB members to be kept up to date on the budget and any implications there might be.

The Chair thanked SGa and noted in terms of RAAC, that the private sector will need to be monitored and provided with appropriate advice. There was agreement from the Board and SGa discussed that there are currently private sector representatives on the cross working group. It was recognised that there can be difficulty reaching building owners/tenants.

Discussions took place on data collection and the prospect of creating a digitalised system that can be used to log RAAC and other materials, to prevent the need to search archives, to find out what materials have been used within buildings and their expiry date. 

In regards to work undertaken on flood resilient homes, the Chair raised the question if there is anything around existing properties?

SGa added that there have been discussions to potentially include guidance to the Technical Handbooks. There is currently a Forum working on property flood resilience which looks at how to get information out to communities.

Workforce strategy  Work stream update and strategy closure report – Paper 84 (20/11/2023)

LS provided background information and an update.

The strategy was published on 1 October 2020 and the approach comprised national and local commitments to deliver change for the building standards profession over a three year period.

A data collection exercise was carried out in 2019 to provide a base for the strategy. This has been carried out on an annual basis to monitor the impact of actions over the period 2020-2023. The most recent data collection exercise indicates that the workforce has grown from 559 in 2022 to 597 in 2023. The age profile is changing with a steady increase in the 16-39 age range over the three years of the strategy.

The national and local commitments has supported the development of a professional framework supported by Local Authority Building Standards (LABSS) and introduction of the competency assessment system (CAS).

Promoting building standards as a profession is required. This has been underpinned via education working closely with colleges and universities. The Learning and Development role within the Building Standards Hub Pilot has been implemented.

AR set out the 5 core projects of the strategy. The Strategy was prepared in 2019 with the intent to drive change and give clear roles for LABSS and local government.

Implementing the Competency Assessment System (CAS)

This introduced a single assessment to assess verifiers and identify skill gaps. Training modules were created. CAS has been well received by verifiers but refinements to the system is required to make it easier and faster to use. A future project will look at digitising the system.

Promoting the profession

The aim was to raise the profile of the building standards profession and demonstrate that rewarding and lasting careers are available and are essential within local government. The My World of Work website, managed by Skills Development Scotland, reflects this. The Ambassadors Network was created to support this aspect of the strategy and provide an accurate idea of activities carried out and the commitment level. The Network started off slow due to the pandemic but numbers are increasing and the age percentage is starting to grow.

Implementing a professional framework

The Professional Competency Framework for Verifiers (PCF) was implemented from June 2021 and supported by the CAS. The framework introduced a nationally consistent set of job roles with qualifications and experience highlighted. It provides clarity on what the profession looks like and highlights career progression.

Developing Vocational Pathways

New career opportunities or leave through retirement resulted in a loss of individuals within the industry which acted as a key driver for change to be addressed by the strategy. A degree course was implemented at Glasgow Caledonian University and its development was a joint effort with LABSS, the university and BSD. Vocational pathways for modern apprentices was developed to provide clear entry points into the profession. Cohort 1 in 2022 attracted 14 apprentices while funding pressures in authorities impacted on 2023 numbers leading to four apprentices joining the course in 2023.

Developing a Learning and Development Hub

Work was undertaken by LABSS to develop an online training platform. User acceptance testing was recently completed and is expected to go live by Spring 2024. Individuals will be able to access learning materials anywhere and at a time that suits them best. Successful completion of modules is recorded and will contribute to closing the skill gaps identified across the profession.

Significant benefits are highlighted within the closure report. The Chair added there is an awareness of the skills gap within many sectors however important work is being implemented.

The strategy report has been approved by the Minister and is currently with the Scottish Government publishers.

Work stream update – (20/11/2023)

Futures Board – Programme from 2024 Paper 85 (20/11/2023)

NM provided the update to the Group on the streamlining of the 7 workstreams from 2024 and beyond.

The Technical workstream has now moved into the ongoing work of the BSD Technical Unit. An update will be brought to the Board when required.

The Workforce Strategy will be taken forward as normal business however given the impact of workforce across the other work streams there is a need to continue to review and engage on workforce. This will be considered further in the programme review.

The Verification Workstream is now being moved into the Delivery Model and will be overseen by the Delivery Model Working Group.

It is proposed that the 7 workstreams will be reduced to 4 to streamline the Programme. The proposals will be further developed and brought back to the Board in April 2024.

The Chair agreed with the proposals and the need to streamline the Programme where that makes sense.

Work stream update paper 86 (20/11/2023)

CT delivered Paper 86 providing an update on the work streams not covered by the main papers at today’s meeting.

The RAG status measuring progress on each is:

  • Verification Delivery Model – RAG status is currently green
  • Compliance Plan Approach – RAG status is currently amber
  • Digital Transformation – RAG status is currently red
  • The Board were informed that this status is reflected due to the Digital Team Leads secondment ending and the uncertainty around this
  • Certification Strategy – RAG status is currently green/amber
  • Verification Standard – RAG status is currently green
  • Technical Strategy – RAG status is currently green

Energy Standards Review: A Scottish Passivhaus Equivalent

Verbal update

DF introduced himself and took the Group through a presentation.

Background was provided on the draft Members’ Bill proposal that was issued by Alex Rowley MSP in May 2022, to seek “new minimum environmental design standards for all new build housing to meet a Scottish equivalent to the Passivhaus standard, in order to improve energy efficiency and thermal performance”. To support this work Alex Rowley MSP undertook a public consultation receiving over 600 responses seeking views on the potential bill including any potential problems, suggesting improvements and development of the policy.

The final proposal gained the necessary cross-party support and in December 2022, Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights (ZCB, AT & TR) issued a written statement to Mr Rowley, and the Scottish Parliament confirming that the Scottish Government will bring forward legislation to give effect to the proposed Members’ Bill.

To support this work the Building Standards Energy Team at the start of 2023 undertook a series of stakeholder engagement sessions. This led to the setting up of the Energy Standards Review – Scottish Passivhaus Equivalent Working Group in June 2023.

The two key themes for this review are:

  • measures that use reliable solutions to optimise building fabric and service performance, reduce energy demand and provide a healthy indoor environment
  • design and construction of new buildings should be supported by quality assurance and verification processes, resulting in buildings that meet the design standards set

The deadline to implement the Bill and lay regulations is 15 December 2024.

Risks and opportunities were highlighted with a focus on potential cost implications which will be looked at via the BRIA Impact Assessment as part of the consultation.

The Scottish Government will undertake a public consultation  summer 2024 to gather views on the proposed energy standards in Scotland – the Passivhaus equivalent.

Engagement sessions will be held on 5 December 2023 (Ventilation and Overheating) and in January 2024 (Quality Assurance and Compliance).

The Chair stressed the importance of this piece of work and asked Board members to make their networks aware of these future engagement sessions.

Action: Board members to inform their networks of future engagement sessions regarding Passivhaus.

The Chair thanked DF for his update.

Futures Board Risk Management - risk register – Paper 87 (20/11/2023)

CT updated the Board.

There has been no change on RAG, likelihood and impact since the last meeting. Risks are managed on a regular basis throughout the workstreams.

The Group were content with the Risk Register.


Date of meetings 2024:

  • Tuesday 16 April
  • Tuesday 27 August
  • Tuesday 19 November

The Chair thanked everyone for their attendance and closed the meeting.


  • FB members to be kept up to date on the budget and any implications there might be
  • Board members to inform their networks of future engagement sessions regarding Passivhaus
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