Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing Review Group: terms of reference

Terms of reference for the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing Review Group.



  • to undertake a review of the second energy efficiency standard for social housing (EESSH2), bringing it in line with the Scottish Government’s net zero target, and our guiding principles of a just transition that is fair to everyone and leaves no one behind.
  • to provide interim guidance to the social housing sector while the review is underway.


The review is intended to act on two specific recommendations of the Zero Emissions Social Housing Task Force:

  • action 12 - The proposed review of  EESSH2 should be brought forward to commence immediately with a final decision on the revised approach and implementation no later than 2023. This should include a period of reflection and further research while also allowing the outcomes of the recently published consultation on EPC assessments to be considered
  • action 13 - In order that time is not wasted planning for the requirements as they currently stand, if it is now likely the goalposts will shift, the Scottish Government and Scottish Housing Regulator should issue interim guidance on what measures should be prioritised during the review period

The EESSH review is required because the current 2032 milestone is not aligned with net zero targets for heating. To meet our net zero target, by 2045 all homes in Scotland must have significantly reduced their energy use, and almost all must be using a zero direct emissions heating system.

Recognising the ZEST report calls for a Fabric First approach as an essential first step, the EESSH2 review will consider energy efficiency measures, together with zero emissions heating systems and how these can be integrated in making more climate resilient homes, in a way that is affordable for tenants and protects those in fuel poverty.

Desired outcomes

Technical review of metrics

  • to have agreed a new energy efficiency and zero direct emissions heat standard for social housing, which provides clarity for the social housing sector on:
    • the minimum level of energy efficiency to be achieved;
    • a holistic approach which supports positive outcomes for tenants and ensures alignment of fuel poverty, energy efficiency and net zero objectives;
    • outcomes from the Scottish Government’s review of EPCs and RdSAP; and 
    • the impact of energy efficiency measures on indoor air quality and embodied emissions.
  • to have informed advice to Scottish Ministers, who will have the final decision on the composition of the next standard
  • to have undertaken a review that is: inclusive; draws on ongoing engagement from the social housing sector – including the voices of tenants in this sector and; is centred on the needs of social tenants including for example, end-user training

Work to support the establishment of future thresholds for the metric

  • to have provided clear interim guidance to social landlords on energy efficiency measures and zero direct emissions heating to prioritise during the review, recognising the ZEST report’s call for a Fabric First approach as an essential first step
  • to have provided clarity on the type of heating systems that should be deployed that are compatible with net zero
  • to have confirmed milestones, and associated ratings or standards to be set for these milestones
  • to have identified challenges and obstacles landlords may face – for example, funding and finance mechanisms – as they work to achieve the new standard and milestones and to have explored options to support this process
  • to confirm how the milestones will apply to hard-to-treat building types, and to have explored possible exemptions or abeyances  
  • to have explored the unique circumstances of mixed tenure and multi-use properties and how the standard will apply to these
  • to have developed a standardised approach to retrofit  which will assist in the acceleration of retrofit across social housing stock
  • to have identified areas requiring further development of skills and qualifications to achieve the new standard and milestones 
  • to have explored how PAS2035 might interact with how work is taken forward against the new standard


The review is expected to run for approx. 12 months and comprises four phases:

  • phase 1 (August – September 2022): development of, and agreement on, interim guidance
  • phase 2 (September – October 2022): agreeing approach to new metrics
  • phase 3 (November – December 2022): work to support the establishment of longer term thresholds for the new metric
  • phase 4 (January – April 2023): production of new guidance
  • phase 5 (April – July 2023): consultation and Ministerial sign off


The group will be expected to: 

  • approve interim guidance on prioritising investment pending the outcome of this review
  • consider the suitability of EESSH ratings set for the first 2025 milestone for (a) all new lets to be at least EPC D and (b) all new projects to mitigate against any detriment to air quality, with a view to endorsing it
  • agree a new milestone to replace the 2032 EPC B target, which is aligned with the 2045 net zero target
  • consider the potential risk of disposal or non-disposal of stock where the new standard is not met and the impact this may have on other housing tenures
  • consider progress to date and what is required to maximise full compliance with these ratings
  • reflect on how measures have been funded to date and to what degree landlords have, despite all reasonable efforts, been unable to access external funding to help them achieve the 2020 EESSH ratings
  • explore technical challenges faced by landlords when working to bring harder to treat properties (including solid wall and tenements), and mixed tenure and mixed use buildings, up to EESSH ratings
  • consider the rationale, and set ToRs, for the establishment of subgroups as required and agreed by the review group
  • reflected on the inclusion of local authority Gypsy/Traveller sites in the scope of the new standard

Not in scope

Not in scope, but still relevant to the group’s considerations are:

  • regulation of owner occupied and private rented sectors


  • Neil Ritchie (Chair), Heat Networks and Investment Unit, SG
  • Ciara O’Connor, Heat Networks and Investment Unit, SG
  • Simon Roberts, Heat Networks and Investment Unit, SG
  • Callum Neil, Heat Networks and Investment Unit, SG
  • Michael Cameron, Scottish Housing Regulator
  • Mike Callaghan, COSLA
  • Sally Thomas, SFHA
  • Moses Jenkins, Historic Environment Scotland
  • Mark McArthur, Energy Saving Trust
  • Graeme Bruce, Link Group
  • Stephen Devine, Wheatley
  • David Bookbinder, GWSF
  • Sherina Peek, ALACHO
  • Ken Gibb, University of Glasgow/CaCHE
  • Lori McElroy, University of Strathclyde
  • Bruce Cuthbertson, Tenant representative
  • David Downie, Tenant representative
  • Nick Clark, Ore Valley Housing Association
  • Donald Weir, Glen Oaks Housing Association
  • John Devine, NG Homes
  • Angela Morgan, Port of Leith Housing Association
  • Paul Leask, Hjaltland Housing Association
  • Ian Dawson, Fife Council
  • Dave Thomson, Aberdeenshire Council
  • Gregor Wightman, Stirling Council
  • Grant Gilfillan, Shetland Council
  • John Smith, South Lanarkshire Council
  • Roddy Hamilton, Changeworks

Number of meetings

The short life group will meet on four occasions with additional meetings if required. All meetings will be hybrid. A Teams link will be provided for those unable to attend in person. For those wishing to attend in person the meetings will be held in 5 Atlantic Quay, 150 Broomielaw, Glasgow G2 8LU, although we will welcome suggestions of alternative venues.  

Meetings are provisionally scheduled for the following dates:

  • 5 September 2022
  • 14 December 2022
  • 24 April 2023
  • a further meeting to be arranged following consultation on the group’s proposals
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