Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing Review - Fabric and Hard to Treat subgroup minutes: November 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the subgroup on 21 November 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Callum Neil, Scottish Government
  • Emily Dorrian, West Dunbartonshire Council
  • Euan Lochhead, Changeworks
  • John Devine, ng Homes
  • Graeme Bruce, Link Group Ltd
  • Moses Jenkins, Historic Environment Scotland
  • Lori McElroy, University of Strathclyde
  • Paul Leask, Hjaltland Housing Association
  • Sean Smith, University of Edinburgh
  • Sherina Peek, ALACHO
  • Simon Roberts, Scottish Government
  • Tim Sharpe, University of Strathclyde


  • Ciara O’Connor, Scottish Government
  • Grant Gilfillan, Shetland Council

Items and actions

  • SG to amend and send remit paper to the Group. Due November 2022
  • SG to share the metrics options paper being produced by the Metric, Just Transition and Heating System subgroup , with this group. Due December 2022
  • SG to report back to group on where the Metric, Just Transition and Heating System discussions with respect to metric have gotten to. Due December 2022
  • SG to develop 2 sample pattern books – agreement from the subgroup members on the 2 examples to be discussed at the next meeting. Due December 2022

Welcome and introductions

List of attendees available.

Simon Roberts welcomed everyone and thanked all for agreeing to be part of the EESSH2 review subgroup on Fabric and Hard to Treat. Everyone introduced themselves and their interest in the EESSH2 review. The aim is to have three meetings which will feed into the main EESSH2 review. Attendees were advised that meeting notes will be published on the SG website.

Review of the subgroup remit

Members of the subgroup were invited to ask any questions or provide any thoughts on the subgroup remit circulated prior to the meeting.

It was noted that there would be some engagement necessary between subgroup 1 on Just Transition, Metric and Heating System and subgroup 3 on Fabric and Hard to Treat. 

It was suggested that the we shouldn’t be thinking traditional buildings are harder to treat than other property types, for example system build properties. Language in the remit paper to be amended to reflect this.

It was agreed by the group that any targets need to be achievable from a cost perspective. The target must also be scalable. 

Developing pattern books and a range of solutions for different archetypes was discussed. It was noted this would require caution as each building needs to be assessed on its merits. It was agreed that pattern books are not a one size fits all approach, they are to break down construction types and give landlords with less resources a degree of confidence in their chosen solutions and to narrow down the options. It is accepted that archetypes will not cover all of the housing stock and there will be some properties that don’t fit, which will still require solutions for. Having a range of pattern books can speed up the initial design processes. Bespoke junctions could be updated within an annex.

Archetype based solutions was a recommendation in the ZEST report, with a central unbiased host of solutions countering any distrust with contractors. Having a range of high impact systems that can be rolled out would give an opportunity for upskilling.

It was suggested that performance evaluation of measures introduced is important to know what works and what doesn’t work. Monitoring pre and post retrofit is important for this, but it was questioned how much responsibility should be put on the building contractor for the post retrofit monitoring. It was also noted that monitoring CO2  and temperature can be costly and time consuming for landlords, however the benefits from this can result in improved occupant health and reduced cost for future retrofit works. The challenges with rolling out the smart meter to everyone is also a challenge for monitoring. Post occupancy monitoring needs to be wider than an EPC and there needs to be accountability on the quality of works carried out.

It was discussed how SAP may not be the best method for measuring the standard, as it does not account for air quality. There have been examples of buildings losing up to 9 SAP points through the addition of mechanical ventilation, while SAP also favours the cheapest form of heat, which is currently still gas boilers. An alternative to SAP is required, which is being discussed in subgroup 1 on Just Transition, Metric and Heating System.

Discussion of outputs and outcomes

For the purpose of this review, when considering the audience of the pattern books the focus should be on social landlords. Adequate training and qualifications would be required for the people using the pattern book solutions.

It was suggested two archetypes are identified and SG work up solutions for these archetypes for social landlords to implement.

It was agreed that good examples of tenant engagement are important.

Collating work done and data across RSLs and LAs would be beneficial to see best practices.

A matrix of fabric first solutions and zero emissions heating systems would support landlords to implement improvements.

A holistic solution is required, just thinking from an energy perspective may lead to other problems, such as mould. Any solution must also consider adequate ventilation. It was noted that housing brought up to the first EESSH standard are not necessarily improved as there was no consideration for air quality.

Noted that there is an overlap between the remit of this subgroup and Subgroup 1 (Just Transition, Metric and Heating System), which will look at suitable ways of framing a target.

Considerations and future meetings

Consideration needs to be given to ensuring that achieving net zero does not increase fuel poverty. Reducing energy demand through fabric first measures will help ensure a zero emissions heating system will not increase fuel poverty. The zero emissions heating system should be designed in a simple manner to aid with a just transition.

The works bringing the tenements at Niddrie Road to EnerPHit standard were discussed. It was noted that the while the works may not be replicable due to the cost and scale of work involved, there are elements that can be taken from this project, for example the implications of internal wall insulation on a masonry wall.

SG are drafting an options paper on metrics to be reviewed by the Metric, Just Transition and Heating System subgroup. The outcome of this will be discussed at the next meeting of this subgroup.

Any other business

The next meeting is scheduled for 8 December 2022.

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