This evidence review found a large literature base demonstrating that the co-benefits of climate change mitigation action in the built environment sector could be substantial. In determining policy, consideration needs to be given to the carbon reduction offered and the potential for additional benefits. Ambitious use of increased efficiency measures could help achieve GHG reduction targets as well as contributing to other key objectives such as improving health. The use of sustainable materials could offer opportunities in terms of forestry diversification, while the provision of green infrastructure could help reduce urban heat island effects.
Significant research gaps are detailed below.
Avoid: reduce energy demand
- Further in-depth research on the co-benefits of improving energy performance of housing on occupant health is necessary if there is a requirement to directly quantify how investment in energy efficiency could lead to reductions in costs to health services.
- Physical and mental health are identified as being influences on and outcomes of energy behaviours and vulnerability to fuel poverty. Research is needed to understand these relationships in more detail including where and how policy measures can be targeted to maximise co-benefits to those most in need.
- Further evidence is required to better understand and quantify the benefits of energy efficiency in the non-domestic sector, especially in the Scottish context. Opportunities here relate to cost savings, strengthening of corporate values and risk mitigation.
- Further research is required to quantify the rebound and prebound effects of improving energy efficiency, particularly amongst fuel poor and vulnerable households, and to incorporate the updated results into models such as DEMScot2 and NHM.
Shift: a more sustainable built environment
- Increased and improved data is required on Scottish imports and exports of sustainable building materials in order to better understand and quantify the potential for these industries to contribute to sustainable economic growth.
- Linked to the use of timber based sustainable building materials there is a need for more research to capture the value of ecosystem services  , and particularly how the co-benefits of forestry and agricultural strategies can be captured and incorporated into strategies for the built environment.
- Increased understanding of the equalities opportunities in relation to local job creation, e.g. through the production of sustainable building materials, is required.
Improve: low carbon energy options
- Further research is needed on the sustainability impacts of increasing demand for bioenergy.
Email: Debbie Sagar