Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing Review Group minutes: September 2022

Minutes for the meeting of the group on 5 September 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Angela Morgan, Port of Leith Housing Association
  • Bruce Cuthbertson, Tenant representative
  • Callum Neil, Scottish Government
  • Cassandra Dove, SFHA
  • Ciara O'Connor, Scottish Government
  • Dave Thomson, Aberdeenshire Council
  • David Bookbinder, GWSF
  • David Downie, Tenant representative
  • Dorothy Ogle, Scottish Government
  • Gareth Fenney (Chair), Scottish Government
  • Grant Gilfillan, Shetland Council
  • Gregor Wightman, Stirling Council
  • Ian Dawson, Fife Council
  • John Devine, NG Homes
  • John Smith, South Lanarkshire Council
  • Jon Turner, Link Group
  • Ken Gibb, University of Glasgow/CaCHE
  • Lori McElroy, University of Strathclyde
  • Louise Mcnicol, Glen Oaks Housing Association
  • Mark McArthur, Energy Saving Trust
  • Michael Cameron, Scottish Housing Regulator
  • Mike Callaghan, COSLA
  • Moses Jenkins, Historic Environment Scotland
  • Neil Ritchie, Scottish Government
  • Nick Clark, Ore Valley Housing Association
  • Paul Leask, Hjaltland Housing Association
  • Roddy Hamilton, Changeworks
  • Sherina Peek, ALACHO
  • Simon Roberts, Scottish Government
  • Stephen Devine, Wheatley


  • Donald Weir, Glen Oaks Housing Association
  • Sally Thomas, SFHA

Items and actions


  • SG to redraft and send ToRs to the Group (001). Owner: SG. Date due: September 2022
  • establish sub-group looking at gypsy traveller sites (002). Owner: SG. Date due: October 2022
  • share European guidance on what the targets should be for new and existing buildings on Interim Guidance Point 18 (003). Owner: LM. Date due: October 2022
  • report back to group on where SG discussions with DNOs wrt cost of connection to grid have gotten to (004). Owner: SG. Date due: October 2022
  • explore means of including owner occupiers in multi tenure blocks within the interim guidance (005). Owner: SG. Date due: October 2022
  • revise the interim guidance based on review group discussions and resend for comment before issuing to RSLs (006). Owner: SG. Date due: September 2022
  • revise the Work Programme document based on the discussion and map out the timelines along with identifying the additional expertise required (007). Owner: SG. Date due: October 2022
  • set up Objective Connect as a platform for the group to share documents (008). Owner: SG. Date due: September 2022

Welcome and introductions

List of attendees and apologies available.

Gareth Fenney welcomed everyone and thanked all for agreeing to be part of the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH2) review group. Everyone introduced themselves and their interest in the EESSH2 review.

Draft terms of reference 

Members of the review group were invited to ask any questions or provide any thoughts on the draft terms of references circulated prior to the meeting. It was proposed to include the following amendments:

  • include getting the best for tenants through engagement in the outcomes 
  • separate the outcomes into informing the thresholds and what the metric is, which can then feed into subgroups
  • give reference to multi-tenure blocks as these are harder to manage and also be more specific on exemptions – this is at the core of discussions of the tenement working group
  • the language used must be accessible for tenants, especially for newer technologies
  • air quality is important especially if people are turning down their heating this winter – damp and mould could become a greater issue
  • fuel poverty and rent affordability should be more explicit in the Terms of Reference along with funding and finance in outcomes – Green Heat Finance Taskforce (GHFT) remit will explore finance options for social housing
  • upskilling of staff for LAs for maintenance needs to be factored into costs and also training for end-user required
  • PAS2035 – if funding streams are linked to PAS2035 then should this be included in the terms of reference
  • strategy on stock disposal required, especially on older stock that cannot be brought up to standard
  • houses will be required to more resilient to climate change – overheating risks in the future could be an issue

Gypsy traveller sites

An overview of gypsy/traveller sites was provided – they were not included within the scope of EESSH previously and due to their complexity it is hard to access funding so they have fallen behind in standard. Minimum standards for sites had been set with an EPC band rating of E, however this is difficult to assess.

It was noted that EPCs are not applicable to gypsy traveller amenity blocks, and therefore can they be compared to social homes. It was agreed there was a complexity issue. If they were to be included within the scope of EESSH then a different metric might be required, e.g. back stop u-values.

It was agreed that there is expertise within the group, so the issue could be looked at in a subgroup and the possibility of a separate standard explored. John Smith and Lori McElroy volunteered to be part of the subgroup, with others asked to put their names forward if interested.

Interim guidance

Group members were asked to provide comments on the interim guidance.

It was noted by some members there was a concern that short term investment would need to be reduced due to the rise in inflation. Rent increases would be below current levels of inflation so there are greater financial pressures currently.

On point 14, it was suggested that the Scottish Housing Regulator should be capturing some information from landlords to show that they are still taking action, e.g. EPC bandings. Michael Cameron noted it was important for all information collected to remain relevant, however if there was a general consensus that interim measurement was appropriate then this can be looked into. EESSH1 compliance is still being captured through the SHQS.  

Lori McElroy noted there is European guidance on what the targets should be for new and existing buildings on point 18. 

Point 19 – priority should be given to what has the biggest impact for the lowest cost. Fabric first is essential as a low regret investment. 

On point 20, it needs to be made clear that this list is not exhaustive and ‘Quantum’ should be replaced with ‘high heat retention storage heaters’ to avoid singling out a specific model. It was also noted that wet electric heating is listed in the table of measures, however this is now deemed to be too expensive due to running costs. Room in roof insulation to be added to the list of measures.

Concerns were raised over the increased running costs of heat pumps and other forms of electric heating over traditional gas heating for landlords and tenants – Gareth Fenney reiterated that heat pumps should only be installed where it makes sense, and the new standard would not drive inappropriate measures.

Point 21, some clarity is required over whether there is a target for monitoring and whether it is short term or long term monitoring. It was agreed monitoring is beneficial for evaluating for what is being done just now and the monitoring of archetypes can prove certain types of solutions work. It will be beneficial to gather information on what the benefit was and how tenants coped with behavioural change requirements.

Some members of the group noted their concern of whether the national grid has the capacity for greater numbers of heat pumps and heat networks.

It was also noted that private homeowners may be waiting to see whether hydrogen is viable option for the future, as this could be incorporated into existing heating systems at a lower cost than converting to electric – SG are waiting on the UK government to give clarity over this, which will not be until at least 2026 so we need to move forward with other options earlier than this. There is still a lot of risks and costs to be ironed out with hydrogen before the existing network could be adapted without unintended consequences.

The capacity of the construction industry was questioned if there was a greater demand for retrofit works.

Some members noted that district heating is not an option in the short term due to significantly increased costs. Reference to fuel source of heat networks also required.

Point 22 – some more clarity on what this really means and clarity on most cost effective option would also be of benefit.

The issue of multi tenure blocks was raised, with an example given of tenants paying for upgrades they don’t get through rent harmonisation. A means of including owner occupiers should be explored. Including multi tenure and decants within exemptions could be an option.

On multi tenure it was also noted that the Tenement Working Group are looking into the arguments behind not treating Owner Occupier, Private Rental Sector and Social Housing separately. Doing the full block in one go would be more cost effective.

SG to redraft the interim guidance and will circulate round the group for further written comments as soon as possible so the guidance can be published to social landlords. EESSH1 milestone to be referred to as the 2020 EESSH milestone throughout the interim guidance document for consistency. It is to be noted on the guidance that RdSAP will be changing soon and so the most up to date version should be used. 

EESSH progrmme of work 

The EESSH2 Review Work Programme document shared prior to the meeting identified subgroups and potential subgroup pairings. The group were asked for thoughts/feedback on this.

It was suggested that Hard to Treat is paired with Fabric, given that Hard to Treat encompasses a wide range of construction types (timber, system build etc) and communication and engagement should be considered. There is not one solution so tenant engagement will be key to raise awareness of the range of measures available and behavioural changes required. 

Under Just Transition it was suggested to include the following:

  • multi tenure
  • geographical differences
  • different needs for elderly and vulnerable residents to be considered in fuel poverty

Implications on social housing stock when tenants are unable to afford to heat their property should be considered – challenges with the energy crisis will be at the front of most of the subgroups. 

Technical expert guidance will be required for subgroup 1.

On subgroup 2 there is the question of what data is required and where does the money come from. The solutions should also combine how people live in their homes along with behaviour change. Any changes need to be realistic.

Subgroup 3 – the ambition should be to reduce fuel poverty – SG has fuel poverty targets and these should be mentioned. It is worth noting though that there are other drivers in fuel poverty.

It was noted by Bruce Cuthbertson there is a piece of research underway on tenant engagement/understanding of these issues, which could provide a useful steer on approaching communication/engagement with tenants. 

Proposed subgroup membership to be agreed.

EESSH review research needs 

The group were asked for their views on the paper on research needs circulated prior to the meeting, and if there were any gaps for additional research ideas. 

The research piece on identifying social housing archetypes is being commissioned via ClimateXChange. It is important to recognise though that not all properties that look the same are constructed with the same material and may behave differently. Other research ideas proposed by the group included:

  • a piece of work on behavioural science to establish a range of methods for changing behaviour in relation new technologies
  • build up examples of case studies, these could be success stories but also examples of where lessons can be learned. Successful Social Housing Net Zero Heat Fund applications could be used here
  • potential for storage capacity in rural areas
  • appropriate language to use to ensure understanding of new technologies – social landlords are often early adopters so tenants are engaging with new technology sooner than the private sector
  • looking at grid capacity – RSLs often front the costs of upgrading infrastructure that property developers then benefit from. Lengthy planning applications can also delay projects. Focusing on fabric improvements can minimise grid impact
  • there are also opportunities to learn from elsewhere. Stephen Devine noted a report due soon from TPAS and also the European Federation for Living are doing work on establishing a methodology for measurement. A literature review of European work could be beneficial, whilst bearing in mind different climatic conditions

Further suggestions on research ideas are welcome.

Any other business

Papers will updated to reflect all of the feedback and circulated.

The general consensus from the group was the hybrid meeting format is beneficial, particularly for remote members, so this will continue for future meetings.

The next meeting is scheduled for 14 December 2022. 

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