Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES): phase 2 pilots evaluation

LHEES aim to establish local authority plans for systematically improving the energy efficiency of buildings and decarbonising heat. This report presents an evaluation of the Phase 2 pilots focusing on the organisational and social aspects, and a review of reports generated by the projects.

4. Results 

4.1. LHEES Pilot Outcomes

Key Lessons

  • Seven pilots collated data on the whole local authority area; the remaining four focused on specific regions.
  • The majority of pilots selected one or two building sectors to focus on. These included: public sector buildings; local authority stock; small and medium enterprises; self-funding; and privately rented.
  • Through the pilots, project teams were able to develop an understanding of the process of developing a LHEES and create an ‘evidence base’ of the building stock.
  • This included greater understandings of just how difficult the process of doing a full LHEES would be, and the significant time and resource implications of this.
  • Hiring consultants with prior knowledge of the local area, and working in close partnerships helped to ensure a sense of local ownership of LHEES.

4.1.1. Scope of the LHEES reports

Area focus

Seven of the pilots included the whole of the local authority area, whilst the remainder focused on specific regions. Gathering information on the whole area allowed local authority officers to develop a broader understanding of the building stock and heat demand, in preparation for developing an authority-wide LHEES

In some cases, the authority started with an area-wide overview and then selected a small number of focus areas to represent different levels of building density:

"We came up with the idea of looking at a few example intermediate zones. [Intermediate zones] are basically an area of our local authority… I think it's roughly 4,000 [properties] and you can typify those by either being rural, suburban or urban quite easily." (consultant)

Through selecting a rural, a suburban and an urban area, the project team were able to generate scenarios that could apply to similar areas across the region. Another council commenced with an overview of SMEs in the local authority area; they used this initial data analysis to identify areas to subsequently focus the LHEES:

"They used GIS to overlay things, and you could see pockets of high heat demand. So …we weren't going to focus solely on off-gas anymore. We had to focus on where these corridors were and have them do more linking together So they decided to focus on four areas… it's almost like a corridor, you could just see this line of dots going up." (local authority officer)

In this case, the original plan to focus on off-gas grid areas was changed in response to early data analysis. Through overlaying data using GIS, the project team identified a 'corridor' of SMEs with high heat demand (spanning four areas), and they chose to focus on this for the remainder of the analysis. Similarly, in Falkirk's project focusing on the council's public sector building stock, initial analysis was used to identify suitable regions. The team identified the age and condition of buildings, and analysed this alongside the council's existing building review plans (for example, discounting buildings that were due to be sold). From there, the team identified two areas to focus on: an industrial area and the high street. Other project teams identified areas to focus on prior to the project commencing, for example choosing to prioritise off-gas grid areas (West Lothian). 


The majority of the Phase 2 pilots selected one or two building sectors (public, private, domestic and non-domestic) to focus on. For example, one local authority officer highlighted their focus on council owned buildings: 

 "It is an overview of public or council owned buildings and reviewing what state they're in presently. What things have to happen to get them to achieve their Scottish Government targets and then what we're able to do with the current budgetary constraints and other constraints that we have and then trying to bridge that gap. So that's a kind of overview of our entire study." (local authority officer)

In this case, the team had been keen to explore how meeting Scottish Government targets for public sector buildings could be achieved within the council's anticipated budget over the next 15-20 years. In other projects, the pilot teams sought to gather information about sectors they were less familiar with (for example, Fife and Aberdeenshire focussed on SMEs, whilst Midlothian looked at the self funding and private renting sectors). Councils knew less about the non-domestic sector, with SMEs being particularly difficult to define:

 "The initial step was really just to try and define 'what is the SME sector?', in terms of its geographical location, the number and type and size of business, what sort of energy they're using. It's getting more and more hard to define as I go through this list what sort of energy and heat demands they have and what sort of measures they may have already implemented and there might still be scope to influence." (consultant)

The projects focusing on the SME sector highlighted how difficult it was to define this group (Aberdeenshire and Fife had a particular focus on SMEs). A specific challenge is that many SMEs operate out of domestic buildings (their own homes) and so it can be difficult to categorise them for subsequent action. This includes how to approach them (for example, as a business or domestic resident) and identify suitable referral routes for support (for example, whether to direct them to HES and RES). This could present an opportunity in that supporting domestic sector retrofitting will incorporate a portion of the business sector. One project team highlighted how the majority of businesses in the selected pilot area were home-based. After working through different data sources, they arrived at 160 businesses in business premises (out of approximately 1,200 registered businesses in the council-wide area) to include in their pilot activities:

"We ended up properly engaging with the target of around about 160 businesses once we got it down to the important premises and then the ones that are in business, the ones that are in premises you would want to target as well." (local authority officer)

Thus, based on contact details available to the council and the type of premises occupied, the team limited the number of businesses included in the pilot. Other sectors included in the LHEES pilots were domestic private rented and privately owned properties. In these cases, project teams drew on resources like the Private Landlords Register and Home Analytics databases to identify properties to include.

4.1.2. Lessons from the LHEES process

Several of the pilot project teams appreciated the resource made available for staff to dedicate time to develop the LHEES. Both Orkney and Argyll & Bute retained the resource within the council, and noted that having 'somebody to look at it for 12 months' was one of the biggest benefits of the pilot. Through such dedicated resource, and funding distributed for hiring external consultants, project teams explained that they had been able to develop an understanding of the process of developing a LHEES. This included building an 'evidence base' of the building stock in the region, particularly recognising the distinction in building condition between different tenures and thus informing future targeted action (South Lanarkshire). Such knowledge of the building stock was shared in across cases:

"we've got the data and we know how many private rented properties there are in [the region]. We know the measures that can be installed on the properties. We know that there's a higher amount of private rented properties in the rural area…and they are mainly houses, like old style cottages that would require a lot of internal wall insulation, loft insulation and we could probably do more in terms of decarbonisation of the heating systems. Whereas in the urban areas…there's a lot of flats which would be hard to treat properties" (local authority officer)

In this case, the local authority officer had gained a better understanding of the distribution of different property types across the region. Such understandings also extended to knowledge of the carbon intensity of the existing heating supply which, coupled with future projections of the carbon intensity of the grid electiricty supply, allowed the project team to assess the suitability of future heat decarbonisation actions: 

"Probably one of the main things that told us in terms of heat strategy and de-carbonisation, a lot of these sites and a major element of the sector is going to decarbonise because they're already on electricity. And as the grid decarbonises, that bit of the sector is going to be decarbonised as well. So all of this was very much pointing towards a conclusion that this is probably not the best place to be putting resources if you're looking to achieve big hits at the end of the day" (consultant)

Thus, through combining different layers of information, the team was able to de-prioritise businesses using electric heating. This is because the carbon intensity of the electricity grid is due to reduce as increasing levels of renewable energy supply are utilised. Future projections were also incorporated into a 'dashboard tool', developed by one consultant for use by Inverclyde Council in assessing actions for the public sector building stock: 

"the dashboard is all of their sites with the current energy performances, a businesses as usual projection based on carbon emission factors and cost factors from BEIS. Then, if you do these things to different sites, what does that do going forward?" (local authority officer)

In the timeframe of the pilot, the dashboard tool could only be developed for a small number of public sector buildings; a lot more time and resource would be required to scale this up to the whole building stock. However, the pilots helped to generate a greater knowledge of the building stock and the suitability of future actions. These understandings also included knowledge of how to approach different sectors, particularly SMEs (Aberdeenshire and Fife both focused on strategies for engaging this group). 

An additional output from the pilots was the identification of where gaps existed in the knowledge and skills available, particularly within local authorities:

 "We've found that there's certainly scope for training and up-skilling in order for [local authorities] to understand the data and how to then use that data for building any level of strategy. I think it's been very positive as it's started to get some of the local authorities talking a little bit about that combination of data plus the social and looking at the barriers and the socioeconomic aspect and start thinking a little bit further ahead than what they currently do." (consultant)

Identifying where up-skilling needs to take place at this stage will be beneficial for the wider-scale development of LHEES

This knowledge of both the building stock and potential future energy efficiency measures, and the skills needed also resulted in greater understandings of just how difficult the process of doing a full LHEES would be (East Lothian), and the significant time and resource implications of this. Where costings had been carried out (North Lanarkshire, Fife, Midlothian, West Lothian, Inverclyde) the scale of this challenge was particularly apparent:

 "You're looking at tens of millions for an area… It was a heat pump district heating network, so you had £34 million just for that. In the suburban area, there's a bit of heating controls, bit of insulation, and better boilers, that's £20 million. Then you go out to the rural one, you're looking at more air source heat pumps and again, insulation - it's £11 million. So just across those three, that's £ 65 million across three areas. And we've got another 67 [areas] to go." (local authority officer)

4.1.3. Local ownership of LHEES

Local ownership when working with consultants 

Whilst two of the pilot project teams kept all resource within the council (Argyll & Bute and Orkney), the remaining nine all worked with external consultants for at least some aspect of the pilot. Project teams reported feeling a sense of local ownership through working closely with consultants, and hiring consultants who had prior knowledge and experience of the local area (for example, Aberdeenshire). This sense of local ownership included capturing the varied challenges that different local authorities experience:

"It does feel like it's Aberdeenshire in the sense that we do not have a city. You know, we just have smaller towns. And different towns are represented quite nicely. It was coastal, there was more in the country… I did feel like the way [the consultants] selected them was quite a nice representation of the area." (local authority officer)

In this case, the consultant had been able to identify a range of areas that reflected the broader variety within the local authority region. In addition, local ownership was achieved through using work produced by the consultant and combining this with internal priorities and processes: 

"We've been quite good at making sure that we didn't just take what [the consultants] were telling us as face value, we took it and changed the reports that they provided and what conversations we had with them and then put them into our own format. We took bits of that which we knew were relevant to us and what we wanted to find out as well." (local authority officer)

This desire to ensure the work was locally tailored was shared by the consultants:

 "It has to be driven by the local context and the local authority's interpretation of the needs of the population and the context that they're working in. So you do have to empower local authorities to make the decisions themselves within a framework." (consultant)

Indeed, this process of empowerment and collaboration helped to make sure that the LHEES pilots were specific to local circumstances. There was only one case where the local authority had limited engagement with the consultant; this was related to a lack of time or resource available for local authority officers to participate, and a change of personnel in the course of the pilot: 

 "I think at this stage because we've had to rely so much on [the consultant to do this one and because of the resources and the resourcing issues that we've had… Does it feel locally owned? Probably not at the moment" (local authority officer)

This highlights the importance of ensuring that there is resource (in terms of staff time) available within local authorities to contribute to the LHEES process. It is only through this that LHEES specific to different local authority regions can be developed

4.2. Developing a LHEES 

Key Lessons

  • There were varied levels of awareness of the ‘six stages’ across the different partners involved in the pilots.
  • Stages 1, 2 had been completed by all of the pilot teams.
  • Stages 4 and 5 had been completed by some of the pilot teams, although some had little awareness of Stage 4 (the socio-economic assessment).
  • There was little evidence of Stages 3 (authority-wide target setting) or 6 (costing and phasing of delivery programmes) being completed across the pilots.
  • The socio-economic assessment methodology could be updated to include carbon emissions and fuel poverty alongside factors that underpin council decision making, including the creation of jobs and financial returns. A specific suggestion is to attribute a weighting factor to the financial benefit of the ability to not have to go back and retrofit in the future.

4.2.1. Following the stages of LHEES

There were varied levels of awareness of the 'six stages' across the different partners involved in the pilots. For example, in some cases, the consultant was aware of the stages whilst members of the local authority were not: 

"Interviewer: Did your process look to follow any of those steps particularly? 

Officer 1: I think we basically left that to [the consultant].

Officer 2: Absolutely. I wasn't aware that there were six steps. I haven't read anything, but there's been a lot of documents that have come out recently at consultancy stage where we have just not got round to being able to delve into them." (local authority officer) 

The local authority officers in this case explained how resource constraints meant that they had to leave it to the consultant to follow the stages outlined by Scottish Government. Conversely, other local authority officers detailed a step by step process that was followed:

"We took data from the heat map and we used that to identify the possibility of clustering for public sector buildings… The first step was really taking a look at the area as a whole, working out what areas we would be able to focus on… And then that was kind of run in tandem with performing an analysis on the condition of the building… And that followed similar lines to reviewing our strategic property. And from that point we were able to determine two particular areas that we wanted to focus on. …It was [then] a case of looking at the condition of the buildings and working out what would need to be done to get them up to both the Scottish Government standard and our climate emergency and then the latter stage of that was looking at what technologies or energy efficiency measures could be put in place" (local authority officer)

Although not always following the 'six stages' presented by Scottish Government, similar descriptions were offered by several other pilot teams:

 "we've been working on the policy side, the national, the local, the strategies that we have and how they fit in with LHEES or it fits in with them and to use the targets, to help with the modelling of the heat map. Also there has been some stakeholder engagement set around the heat map itself." (local authority officer)

In most cases, the LHEES process included a general analysis of data available for the whole local authority in order to identify particular areas (for example streets, towns or villages) for more in-depth analysis. Within these more focused areas, project teams then explored specific building conditions, and heat density and analysed the feasibility of different technical solutions. Some of the LHEES reports included evaluations of different technological options (for example, low carbon heating technologies) and their suitability for the areas studied. Thus, potential options were prioritised and their viability for wider-scale roll-out was assessed. Through this, the majority of the pilots delivered an LHEES which made suggestions for how to improve energy efficiency and decarbonise heat for buildings in particular local authority areas.

How pilot teams approached specific stages 

All of the pilot reports and interviews with the pilot teams demonstrated that they had each followed elements of the 'six stages' outlined by Scottish Government (see Section 1). However, some of the stages were more clearly delivered than others (see Apprendix 2 for details of stages completed in each pilot).

Stage 1

All of the project teams completed an assessment of local and national strategies. Several local authority officers highlighted that their council had recently declared a Climate Emergency, and that the LHEES work could potentially contribute to activities around this. Other existing programmes and strategies referred to included: Local Development Plans, Carbon Management Plans, Housing Strategies, Fuel Poverty Strategies, and Economic Development and Regeneration Strategies. Detail on which strategies were drawn on within the different LHEES reports is provided in Appendices 2 and 3. Local authority officers noted that the LHEES could contribute to these schemes in some way, but were not always clear on exactly how this would be done:

 "It's going to be our Climate Change Strategy, taking it right out to 2045, so Scottish Government's target base. We will be carbon neutral by 2035 potentially. We've got an Adaptation Action Plan that's coming forward, we'll have a Carbon Management Plan which will be a kind of five-year document… The LHEES either sits as part of that or as part of the planning documentation, and that's another one where I think there's a bit of uncertainty." (local authority officer)

"We're developing a local development plan too. But there hasn't been a definitive discussion of steer yet as to where the LHEES will sit. There has been several discussions because obviously there's a climate change working group, will it sit in a climate change policy? Or will it be a policy in its own right?" (local authority officer)

Thus, local authority officers recognised that although LHEES could align with existing activities within the council, there was uncertainty in where it would fit. Where the LHEES sits amongst other local authority plans is significant for how it subsequently gets mobilised. For example, if LHEES forms a core part of a council's energy strategy it could have a better chance of being implemented than if it remains a standalone document. 

In evaluating different existing schemes, some pilot teams also sought to learn from activities taking place UK-wide. This included consultants drawing on their experience of working across other energy initiatives in the UK, but also local authority officers collaborating with their counterparts in England:

 "Local Energy Hubs … those were five regional based hubs that BEIS fund specifically to support energy projects. From the constituent authorities that I spoke to … I think a lesson there is it is a really useful resource and it could be used to develop additional projects but there would need to be additionality to it. There's no point supporting projects that are already going to happen." (local authority officer)

To address their limited experience of engaging SMEs in energy activities, this local authority officer had attended events in England focused on the Local Energy Hubs[6] being trialled there. In this way, teams were able to connect with a broader range of policies and programmes in order to develop their LHEES approach.

Stage 2

Although not always authority-wide, all of the project teams undertook an assessment of the existing building stock's energy performance and heat supply. The data used for this is detailed more in Section 4.4; however, the majority of project teams provided a description of the analysis process followed, for example:

"an initial spatial analytics piece for the whole of the local authority… an oversight of the whole local authority in terms of energy, land, and breakdown by typology and domestic, non-domestic etc … we also looked into different technical solutions for different types of building and different contexts, so whether it will [be] passive design or technical solutions for different examples of typology for each building. And also at scale whether it's in a rural, suburban or urban setting." (consultant)

Stage 3

Across all of the pilots, there was little evidence of Stages 3 (authority-wide targets) being completed. Stage 3 suggests that both short- and long- term targets should be set for the delivery of energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation across the local authority. Local authorities taking part in this phase of LHEES pilots did not commit to any targets in their reports, although potential targets were sometimes indicated.

Stage 4 

Not all project teams applied the socio-economic assessment. Where this was used (Orkney, North Lanarkshire, Falkirk, West Lothian), the analysis was primarily completed by consultants working in partnership with the council. As one local authority officer highlighted, the socio-economic assessment model represented quite an unfamiliar way of working

"We were struggling to get our head round what the socioeconomic analysis was going to entail and what it would actually look like in practice. The [consultants] did a really good job of making [it into] something we could actually do ourselves in the future to evaluate projects." (local authority officer)

In this case, the consultants had organised a workshop to explain the socio-economic analysis to local authority officers. This had been particularly helpful for allowing local authority officers to conduct the analysis themselves in future. 

When applying the assessment framework, project teams noted that some of the metrics and weightings used were less appropriate for certain types of project or sector:

"The socioeconomic thing we couldn't quite work out how we could fit that into public sector buildings. It's so weighted. Basically it means it's all carbon because we take out the fuel poverty factor, so it's kind of… it was almost there's no point… we could put it in but we know what the answer is going to be. It's all going to be carbon, that's the only thing that produced the result. But I guess it's a little bit artificial in that you wouldn't do an LHEES for public sector buildings." (local authority officer)

Within the current socio-economic assessment framework, 1/3 of the weighting is on carbon, and 1/3 on fuel poverty. The remaining 1/3 is split between financial, local economic, local environmental, social, and resilience factors. This focus on fuel poverty means that the socio-economic assessment framework does not prioritise non-domestic projects. The skewed weighting was also commented on by a consultant: 

"One of the things that we drew out is that [the framework] was so heavily biased towards the energy indicators that a lot of the other ones had very little impact in the overall scoring." (consultant)

In addition, it was highlighted that much of the technical analysis already delivered energy related indicators (for example, by analysing the energy consumption in kilowatt hours and carbon metrics of different heating solutions). Consequently, there is scope to streamline the current socio-economic analysis framework and re-visit the weightings given to different factors

"The pitfalls that they were aware of because, I mean, you probably know anyway, I'm assuming you've had a chance to look through it too. But 60% of the marks are in two categories, so carbon emissions and fuel poverty and there's a huge amount of indicators for the rest of the 40%. As he said, these are the ones that you could spend weeks debating and it's 1%. So actually it's really not going to make any difference at all." (local authority officer) 

Supporting council decision-making through the socio-economic framework

Critically, any updates to the socio-economic framework should explore the roll of carbon and fuel poverty alongside factors that underpin council decision making (for example, through appealing to delivering on other statutory duties). One example is that local authorities prioritise the creation of jobs and local employment when determining whether to undertake projects:

"The jobs, skills sector, it didn't have strong weighting there as well. And given that local authorities…. Yeah, one of their primary focuses is kind of economic growth and providing jobs and improved skills and training for the population in their immediate area. Those things probably need a bit more strength." (consultant) 

The suggestion here is that the creation of jobs could be given a higher weighting within the socio-economic assessment framework. Through this, local authority officers may be better positioned for discussions with senior managers, where they have to make a case for projects to go ahead. A similar suggestion was made about the potential to prioritise financial return

"[Scottish Government] really need to establish an appropriate weighting factor that can be attributed to the budgetary constraints and discussions in a council… I hand over [the socio-economic assessment] to senior management and the budgetary people and …they may be budgeting on savings, capital expenditure, paybacks, and at no point are [Scottish Government] attributing a weighting factor financially to the possible benefit or the ability to not have to go back and retrofit things in the future." (local authority officer)

In this case, the participant emphasised the need to demonstrate financial savings to those in senior management. Currently, finance has a weighting of 0.08 within the socio-economic assessment framework. Arguably, this could have a larger weighting, particularly where future savings are also being accounted for. The participant in this case emphasised that, because of restrictions on the Council's finances, it was unlikely that decisions would be made to go ahead with the energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation measures outlined in their LHEES report. 

Stage 5 

The selection of areas and prioritisation of opportunities for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation was not a common feature of the Phase 2 pilots. This is likely to be because many of the pilots selected a small region, representative area, of specific sector to focus on. 

Stage 6

There was evidence that Stage 6 (costing and phasing of delivery programmes) had been partially completed. In the pilots, some costing of potential works was completed; this was usually an overall cost to complete interventions in all of the properties listed. One pilot report (Falkirk) did include costs of different scenarios (for example, a 'full' decarbonisation approach, vs. a 'partial' decarbonisation approach combined with offsetting). Several other pilots included estimated costings. Some did not provide costings for their activities in the LHEES reports, but did demonstrate an awareness of the costs of different activities at interview:

"I think it wouldn't take us long to cost up and say, 'these are the houses that actually you could put a heat pump in' It's about £9,000, £10,000. Of course if you're looking at ground source you're looking at about £16-18,000." (local authority officer)

However, none of the projects had established the phasing of delivery programmes by the end of the pilot period.

4.3. Skills and resources for delivering LHEES

Key Lessons

  • The development and management of LHEES within a local authority will require a dedicated person.
  • Supporting and upskilling local authority officers will be crucial for enabling the delivery of LHEES over the next 15-20 years.
  • The development of a LHEES is highly technical. Key skills include the collation and analysis of numerous datasets, and knowledge of buildings and building services.
  • LHEES also requires significant expertise in project management and strategies for engaging different stakeholders.
  • Within local authorities, there is a shortage of the skills necessary to support the development of LHEES.
  • Consultants are well positioned to address skills gaps and cater to the multidisciplinary nature of LHEES; it is important that consultants develop knowledge of the local area and can adapt to locally-specific circumstances.
  • Data analysis, project management and stakeholder engagement are particularly resource intensive activities.

4.3.1. Skills for LHEES

The skills needed to develop a LHEES include: 

  • project management 
  • collating and analysing large datasets
  • working with spatial data such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • social engagement including designing surveys and hosting workshops
  • business engagement skills
  • knowledge of building engineering and energy auditing. 

As a result, multiple people with a variety of expertise and skill sets were involved in each of the pilots. In some cases, an interdisciplinary team was coordinated. In others, specific individuals contributed their expertise for an aspect of the project (for example sharing data they held), but did not remain involved for the duration of the pilot. Project management was essential for the delivery of all of the pilots, which required the coordination of several individuals and organisations, and the collation of multiple datasets.

Technical skills

The development of a LHEES is highly technical. For all of the pilot projects, this included accessing and collating information from multiple databases. This required knowledge of different data sources (either from different council departments, or external to the council), and skills in liaising and, in most cases, managing data sharing agreements (see Section 4.4.4). For the majority of pilots, this information was then mapped onto the local area in order to build a picture of opportunities for implementing energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation. This collation and mapping is a particularly complex process:

 "It was quite a lot of toing and froing around how we try to pull out different business categories…and which layers were in it, whether it was the OS address base or some of the other… a very, very good understanding of the heat map and how it was built up." (consultantl) 

Cleaning and combining different datasets, and layering these onto the Scotland Heat Map, requires someone with expertise in data analysis and GIS. A second technical skill set is knowledge of buildings and building services. In some cases, site visits and energy audits were completed in a sample of properties included in the LHEES pilot. These activities required an ability to quickly recognise the properties of a building, and explore different heating solutions for the space:

 "building service experience was actually way more important. [For example], heat pumps seem to be all anyone is talking about… that is really a big part of the future and one of the main things is 'could you possibly retrofit one of these things into an existing building?', spending huge amount of money, without understanding where heating systems meet that judgement?" (local authority officer)

This information gathering could be quite complex when the results needed to be coordinated across the different aspects of LHEES:

"There was some quite clever thinking about how, when people were filling out the survey that would digitally just go straight back into the GIS database. Then there was all of the kind of more practical stuff in going out and doing the surveys and being able to quickly and reliably get information out of it. That was a kind of interpersonal thing." (consultant)

Stakeholder engagement skills

Another significant skillset for developing LHEES was the ability to work with different stakeholders:

"There needs to be a focus on the social, which hasn't necessarily been conveyed by Scottish Government. You can't build strategy unless you know what you've got to overcome. And it's all very good and well saying, 'We're going to do a heat network here and [External Wall Insulation] programme here', if the people don't want it or won't go for it … good luck getting them on side." (consultant)

Local authority officers said that different skills were required for working with different sectors. For example, in one case the officers had worked with colleagues in Economic Development to build a strategy for engaging local SMEs

 "We found working with [Economic Development] really interesting as well because [they] know the people in the businesses and [they] know what they want to hear and [they] know when to shut up and let them make a decision. That kind of business relationship is a useful skill. And something that we drew on quite heavily." (local authority officer)

Here, the knowledge of how businesses work (for example, their availability at different times of the day) helped in successfully communicating with local SMEs, and planning events to fit with their schedules. These engagement skills extended to developing social surveys and hosting workshops to gather views from private homeowners and landlords. It was also highlighted that some of these skills would need to be enhanced further for the wider roll out of LHEES. In particular, beyond gathering people's views, this would need to include skills for encouraging the uptake of energy measures: 

 "We don't have sales experience." We'd just realised that we need the ability to sell energy and sell heat. How do we do it? If we're going to have more heat networks, we want to expand the networks we've got. How do we sell to these people?" (local authority officer)

In this case, the participant noted working with a commercial sales department in the council (who sell commercial waste disposal services to businesses, for example) in order to learn more about how to sell services and encourage connection to things like a district heating network. 

Availability of skills within local authorities

Crucially, one of the goals of LHEES is to tailor energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation to local areas. For this, an understanding of local authority context is crucial. This context includes understanding a particular Council's ways of working and strategic priorities, along with knowledge of the local area, work that has recently taken place and work that is planned. It is essential that this local knowledge is incorporated into the development of LHEES. However, several local authority officers highlighted a shortage of the skills necessary to support the development of LHEES:

"In terms of did we have the skillsets to provide the data and input it into the documents themselves then I think absolutely we do. And we know our subjects and we know what we're doing with them. In terms of the skills and knowledge internally I think we have got it. What we didn't have was enough of it. That's the problem." (local authority officer) 

This local authority officer highlighted that, although many of the necessary skills are present within the council, there is an insufficient number of people available to do this work. Beyond availability, other officers highlighted specific skills for LHEES that the council did not have: 

 "I think we will need – or any council will need – some specific expertise from somebody like a [consultant] […] around the construction and collation and the types of data that's required and then the analysis of that data. That's where, I think, we wouldn't have the expertise in-house." (local authority officer)

This participant noted that, although they had other skills in-house (for example, knowledge of different building sectors), these colleagues did not all have the capacity to support the development of LHEES. In other cases, participants suggested that the skills were not available in-house at all: 

"I think a lot of it would be put out because in-house we just simply didn't have the expertise. Again, going back to the district heating network, we'd never done one before. So you need to get a consultant in to actually design this." (local authority officer)

"Some of the people we've been dealing with don't have enough of a grasp on the data and what data has been available, how to use that data, how to clean that data and how to build a picture to then build a strategy from it. So we've had to kind of do that for them." (consultant)

Here, a lack of skills for both data analysis and the planning and implementation of large scale infrastructure like district heating is identified. A final critical point is that, although a lot of useful work has been completed through the LHEES pilots, some local authority officers are unsure on how this can be taken forward amidst limited council resources:

"I think we have one person in this entire organisation who worked on GIS, so their time… so basically the GIS platform that this consultant has made for us with all the data on it has been passed to this person and this person is just sitting on it." (local authority officer)

This is highlights the need to think about resources for the planning and implementation of LHEES. This lack, or limited availability, of expertise within local authorities will be problematic for moving beyond the development of a planning document. Supporting and upskilling local authority officers will thus be crucial for enabling the delivery of LHEES over the next 15-20 years.

4.3.2. Partnership working to address skills gaps

There were two LHEES projects that sought to deliver the projects in-house. In both cases, the local authorities hired an individual to complete the LHEES pilot, on the understanding that they wished to tailor the LHEES to local circumstances and retain expertise in-house.

"We wanted to actually get somebody in-house that is going to learn about… Orkney and how we do things from the projects that we're doing. We thought if we do it in-house we get a better way of analysing the data." (local authority officer)

"In-house we retain knowledge and there's been a massive amount of learning in there around the heat map and I think that's the main thing, to retain that knowledge because when we go further beyond the pilot we have already got a platform to work from." (local authority officer)

Thus, building expertise in-house was thought to be useful for building the wider LHEES at a later date.  The people hired had a background in energy, and an awareness of tools like GIS. However, at interview, one of these individuals explained that, although they had existing knowledge of GIS, it wasn't to the level required for the LHEES. Through the course of the pilot they undertook additional training to address this. In addition, one of the pilots received additional support from external consultants later in the project. 

The remaining nine pilots were led by local authorities who procured consultants to complete aspects of the work. Some officers expressed uncertainty in how to proceed with procurement when the process of completing an LHEES was so unfamiliar to them:

"Officer 1: We didn't really have any idea or a real steer how we would engage a consultant. Well, how do we procure it?

Officer 2: And it's a chicken and egg. When you're looking to procure something then you put quite a detailed brief in terms of what it is you actually want. But really what we're saying is—

Officer 1: We don't know." (local authority officer)

This limited understanding of what to procure for could result in limitations to the work that takes place, and potential mis-matches in understandings between different partners. In another case, a local authority officer discussed their decision to prioritise local knowledge when procuring a consultant: 

 "One of the reasons why we chose [the consultant] was that they had an office in [the local area], they sent the CVs and names of who they were going to subcontract, they were all local and it was very much that they need someone who understands [the local area]. So that was one of the reasons why they were chosen above others." (local authority officer) 

Later in the interview, this officer highlighted that the consultant's knowledge of the local area had helped in completing the LHEES; the officer felt very positive about having worked with this consultant. One of the consultants included workshops with council officers early in the process; this was an opportunity to discuss council targets and strategy. For three of the four pilots that this consultant worked on, the workshops were well attended by local authority officers and presented an opportunity to ensure that local priorities were addressed:

"we host the workshop. Instead of having a template for it we will say to the local authority, 'OK, do you have a strategy template document now? Let's use that.' And we will input a lot of the [findings from] the workshop into that strategy document." (consultant)

Several local authority officers reported meeting regularly with consultant partners, and noted that they felt well updated on progress, and involved in the development of the LHEES. However, some were unaware of some of the processes that consultants actually used: 

"we're still unaware of how [the consultant] came up with the data that then led us to the outcomes of the actual pilot. We just got a bunch of data, they combined it with their own data then sent it back to us so we still don't know how that actually worked." (local authority officer)

This indicates that there may be scope for ensuring that information about the analysis and processes behind generating an LHEES report is clearly shared, for example, specifying this in initial tender documents. 

Local authority officers generally viewed the involvement of consultants as beneficial. In particular, they highlighted that consultants hold a wealth of expertise that is not available within local authorities. In addition, consultants often work across multiple local authorities and are thus able to share practices and thinking from elsewhere:

"[The consultants] have also been quite good in giving us advice on what other people are doing, which has been quite useful for us to see how we're getting on compared to other local authorities and then they've mentioned a couple of ideas that other people have taken on that we've then carried on ourselves." (local authority officer)

In this way, the consultant was able to act as a 'critical friend' who could point out relevant information that the council may not be aware of, and offer guidance in terms of how the LHEES process is developing across councils. 

Creating multi-disciplinary teams

Finally, consultants are well positioned to address skills gaps and cater to the multi-disciplinary nature of LHEES. The consultants taking part in the Phase 2 LHEES pilots discussed putting together teams of people with multiple types of expertise:

 "We're a multidisciplinary consultant. So beyond engineering, we have environment team, we have economics, etc." (consultant)

"I'm [managing the project and contributing to the technical report]…And then we have two data analysts who will process all of the data and produce sections of the report…We then have researchers who will do all of the engagement interviews and so on." (consultant)

Thus, consultants are able to bring multiple sets of expertise into teams that work on LHEES. The nature of consultancy means that these individuals can work on the aspect within their area of expertise and then move onto a different project, as per demand. This means that consultants are well set up to deliver something as multi-disciplinary as LHEES. This is quite different to the way that local authorities are structured, where people tend to focus on one area of service delivery. 

4.3.3. Resource required to develop LHEES

All of the project teams reported that developing an LHEES was a labour intensive process. Two aspects were particularly challenging: the management of data and engaging different stakeholders

Firstly, several different databases were compiled for use in LHEES. Collating and cleaning these datasets to ensure that the data was as accurate as possible was usually a manual process:

"We literally just went into the database and started further eliminating everything that we knew that wasn't an SME. So all the big companies, all the big oil companies, the banks, the retail sites, all that kind of stuff. So it was pretty laborious but what it meant was at the end of the day we were pretty confident that what we had left was, if not exclusively, then predominantly SMEs." (consultant)

In this case, the LHEES focused on understanding local SMEs, and the data available covered a much broader range of buildings. The team had to work through each point in their database to establish information about buildings occupied by SMEs. A similarly time-consuming data collation and cleaning process was highlighted during another interview:

"We take local authority data, compare it with home analytics. It's time consuming. Even once you've got the data, cleaning up that data is maybe five, six, days worth of work for someone to go through it. And it is quite specialist because you see something that doesn't quite seem right and you Google the street [e.g. to corroborate building type with what the data says] and you have someone who knows a lot about building archetypes." (consultant) 

At interview, it was suggested that this type of process could potentially be standardised and streamlined as understandings about data processing develop. This is likely to be a crucial factor in scaling up LHEES to cover whole local authority areas, and the whole of Scotland. 

Secondly, engaging stakeholders, especially businesses and SMEs, required a high level of resource. Surveys were not a feasible way to engage these groups (see Section 4.5), and so engagement usually took the form of door-to-door visits, organising events, or manually contacting individual business via telephone or email. These activities will necessarily 'ramp up' ahead of an event or campaign and then reduce:

"Interviewer: So in terms of the resource for doing that… how much of each of your time was involved in that over the course of the pilot and also the consultants? 

Officer 1: When we were setting up I think mine was maybe two days a week. And then when the pilot started progressing I was able to drop to a day, day and a half, a week. And that was just purely business engagement and engaging with stakeholders to try and make them aware of the projects. But then when we had an event that would then increase again to prepare for the event." (local authority officer) 

This project had involvement from four different officers within the council, who managed the business engagement work, and additional support from a consultant for data analysis activities. The four officers were not working on the project full time, but they did report each spending between 1-2 days per week on the pilot. This amounts to more than one person working at full time equivalent, and only covers one sector in a small region of the local authority area. It is likely that this will need to be scaled up for LHEES taking place in a wider area. 

Some local authority officers reported that they were not in roles dedicated to LHEES. Instead, working on the pilot was described as "a part-time bolt-on" (East Lothian). Consequently, it was suggested that the development and management of LHEES within a local authority will require a dedicated person (Aberdeenshire; East Lothian). Aspects including engagement work are likely to require additional resource if done at scale:

 "There wasn't a huge amount of money available to actually engage with businesses and because of the very heterogeneous nature of what businesses do and how they use energy, that engagement piece is really, really, important. So actually I think there's probably a need for a bit more resource in that element" (consultant)

In one region, it was estimated that there are 18,000 SMEs, and evidence from this evaluation (see Section 4.5) shows that engagement is most successful when done on a personal or individual level. Consequently, additional resource is likely to be needed to support engagement work.

4.4. Data

Key Lessons

  • Detailed energy consumption and building information was available for councilowned public sector buildings; it was harder to establish an accurate picture for privately owned and rented domestic properties and businesses.
  • The Scotland Heat Map and Energy Performance Certificate databases have significant gaps and inaccuracies for all sectors, but inaccuracies are most prevalent for private non-domestic buildings.
  • Additional data was collected during the pilots; mainly through site visits to a small sample of properties, to verify building information. Site visits to SMEs were most successful if organised on an ad hoc basis.
  • Data sharing was the most straight forward where partnerships were established, or where the data was owned by the council and publicly available.
  • The most significant hindrance to progress was the sharing of data amongst different organisations.
  • Concerns about data protection meant that general reports were made available to project teams, rather than detailed building-level data. There is a need to explore how detailed data can be provided whilst adhering to GDPR.
  • Accurate and detailed datasets need to be made equally available across all 32 local authorities, for example through a central data repository.
  • The future roll-out of LHEES would benefit from clear guidelines in terms of when data sharing agreements are required, and the provision of templates for these.

4.4.1. Datasets used for developing an LHEES

The Scotland Heat Map and Energy Performance Certificate databases were common starting points for the majority of the pilots. These publicly available datasets were supplemented with a variety of data from local authorities and other sources, as detailed in Table 2. The datasets most commonly used by each of the pilot projects are listed in Appendix 2.

The most accessible datasets were those that are made publicly available, or owned by the local authority. In particular, a large amount of information was available for council-owned public sector buildings, which often had automated gas and electricity readings:

"We gave [the consultants] access to the web portals for… electricity data and automatic heater reading and gas data… But also we delivered 18/19 energy data which was the last full year's data that we had." (local authority officer) 

Although EPC and Home Analytics data is available for privately owned and rented domestic properties, it was much harder to establish an accurate picture of individual building condition and energy consumption for businesses. In these cases, project teams combined information from across several data sources 

"The NOMIS datasets from the Office of National Statistics…allowed them to identify the size of the businesses and what [type of] business according to the classification. And then they cross referenced that dataset with the heat map dataset, [which] includes census data and that allowed us to actually identify which businesses were in domestic properties" (local authority officer)

In this case, it was only through combining datasets that the project team were able to identify that a large proportion (approximately 1/3) of businesses in the area were operating out of domestic properties. The large proportion of businesses operating out of domestic properties was also identified in another pilot focusing on SMEs (Aberdeenshire). This was significant for the development of their LHEES and any subsequent interventions because these businesses would not be eligible for business support; instead, they would have to be included in strategies to target domestic properties. However, across all of the pilot projects, interviewees identified limitations in the data available, as discussed in the following section. 

Table 2: Datasets used across the LHEES pilots
Dataset Content Scope Private/ public  Observations (from interview discussions)
Scotland Heat Map Heat demand; energy supply; geothermal potential; property tenure; existing district heating schemes Scotland-wide Public (detailed datasets available to local authorities) Reports that some of the data is out of date. The Heat Map was updated once in 2016 and twice in 2017. There are gaps in the data available. Over-estimates of non-domestic heat load.
Home Analytics Domestic only: address-level data on Scottish housing stock Scotland – wide Central and local government, and organisations contracted by them to complete energy efficiency projects Delays in accessing due to data sharing agreements. Could do more to build in future projections of carbon (for example, factoring in decarbonisation of the grid for recommending heat pumps)
Scottish Energy Performance Certificate register Energy Performance Certificate and Display Energy Certificate by postcode or report reference number Scotland-wide Publicly available Also built into the Scotland Heat Map as separate layers 
Estimates of Households and Dwellings in Scotland, 2017 - National Records of Scotland Statistics on occupied and vacant dwellings, second homes, and trends in household types Scotland-wide Publicly available Data from 2017.
Corporate Address Gazetteer Land and property records; UPRN for each geographic location Scotland-wide Local and national governments Base identifier that links all building data.
Scottish House Condition Survey Physical condition of Scotland's homes, including SAP rating Scotland-wide [2018 version included 2,964 households] Some datasets available publicly, micro-level data available through special request  
Ordnance Survey Geographic Data Great Britain Public sector licensing available through the One Scotland Mapping Agreement in place between Scottish Government and Ordnance Survey Required for sharing spatial data as commonly used within public sector data.
BEIS Sub-national gas consumption data Gas consumption at local authority, postcode and Lower and Middle Suport Output Area level (LSOA and MSOA) Great Britain Publicly available  
NOMIS from the Office for National Statistics Official labour market statistics (based on census data) United Kingdom 2011 data Publicly available  Both SME and SIC[7] data.
Exoserve gas Postcode Data relating to Supply Meter Points associated with particular properties United Kingdom Available to authorised users (suppliers; networks operators; meter asset managers)  
Scottish Assessors Association Non-domestic business rates at postcode level Scotland-wide Publicly available  

4.4.2. Suitability of available data

The Scotland Heat Map and Energy Performance Certificate databases were used extensively by project teams. The Heat Map uses assumptions to estimate heat demand data for all buildings in Scotland. This is designed for strategic evaluation of heat demand of an area and opportunity assessment. Some project teams reported that there were inaccuracies at an individual building level. Although the Heat Map data should be sufficient for strategic planning within LHEES, it is likely that analysis at individual project or building level would require access to more accurate data. Data inaccuracies were most prevalent for private non-domestic buildings. It was noted that having access to accurate data would be "vital" (East Lothian) for ensuring that the analysis could translate into action in terms of energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation. For example, one officer highlighted that EPC's offer a metric for understanding the efficiency of the building, but they do not take into account the use of buildings.

"With a non-domestic EPC you're not looking at how the building is going to be used. As I said, this building has gone from having 600 staff to having 900 staff. That changes the consumption and the pattern of how a building is used and EPC doesn't really capture that at all." (local authority officer) 

This concern that EPCs did not capture accurate enough information was shared by another local authority officer, who highlighted that because of similar inaccuracies in domestic EPCs, colleagues will manually check the properties of potential buildings to be included in other council schemes:

 "It's not 100% accurate…there's a lot of desktop work that's carried out rather than physically going out to the property. In doing the HEEPS works, [a colleague] has actually gone out and physically looked at all these properties to establish which ones are best suited for the HEEPS projects. We would need to do that for this in order to do it well and to do it good, you know, to reach the targets that the Scottish Government are looking for." (local authority officer)

HEEPS (Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland) is a domestic area-based retrofitting scheme focussed on fuel poor regions. To identify buildings to include in HEEPS programmes, this council visits individual properties. The suggestion here is that, in order to gain an accurate account of domestic buildings' energy performance for inclusion in LHEES, additional resource would be needed for 'on-the-ground' checking. Thus, participants identified shortcomings in the data available for both domestic and non-domestic buildings within EPC databases. Specific inaccuracies were also identified in the Heat Map and NOMIS databases:

 "It's good for pointing you to where things are but once you actually start drilling into it and looking at it, it became very apparent that it was just way off the mark… I think we came to the conclusion that somewhere between a third and a half of the sites that were on the heat map and were showing as having quite substantial heat demands probably didn't have any heating at all." (consultant)

This project focused on SMEs in the region, and through close interrogation of the Heat Map data the consultants identified that a large proportion of non-domestic properties were likely to have a much lower heat demand than listed in the database. In particular, they identified that bigger non-domestic properties attributed with high heat demands were likely to be large un-heated farm sheds. This emphasises the value of the Heat Map for high-level strategic planning, but also the need for more accurate data if carrying through to projets on individual buildings or specific areas.

4.4.3. Collecting new data 

To fill in gaps and confirm the accuracy of existing datasets, some project teams also completed a small amount of their own data collection during the pilot:

"We took a multi-pronged approach, if you like. We gather and assimilate and use all the existing available data and we'd also try and augment that with this online survey. And then the final part of that data jigsaw was to point go out and try and do some actual surveys ourselves as well." (consultant) 

Additional data collection primarily took the form of site visits to a small sample of properties, with a view to verifying building information and suitable interventions for low carbon heating. These site visits only happened in projects which focused on public-sector buildings and SMEs (for example, no site visits were carried out in domestic privately-owned properties). In the case of public sector buildings, access was granted via the council and so these were more straightforward:

"We were given a shortlist of sites that we… went out and visited. A light touch energy audit…so we'd walk around the sites trying to identify where there might be opportunity for savings, getting things like age of plant, other pertinent data related to energy. And then developing a shortlist of options to be able to implemented at each site." (local authority officer) 

This pilot incorporated a relatively small number of public sector buildings in the area, and so identifying and visiting a sample of these was achievable within the pilot. However, if scaling-up the LHEES, it may be less feasible to include visits to individual properties. In addition, public sector buildings are the most easily accessible. Similar strategies were attempted within projects that sought to develop more information on SMEs. In this case, the most effective method teams identified was an informal door-to-door strategy:

"They basically went to [Peterhead] high street and just looked at who was in, who can we talk to, what sort of lighting have you got in place, what sort of heating do you use, how often do you use it? They had all conversations to try and capture what is going on." (local authority officer)

The challenges of engaging SMEs are discussed in Section 4.5. For data collection with SMEs, un-scheduled visits and brief questions to business owners were found to be useful. In this case, business owners were given notice via letter from the council that visits to the area would be taking place; however, formal meeting times were not scheduled. Additional stakeholder engagement surveys were also carried out with residents and SMEs; these sought general information about energy awareness and willingness to adopt measures, and are discussed more in Section 4.5.

There was one project where a larger amount of primary data collection took place. In Orkney, the project team sent a survey to every household in Orkney. Of the 11,000 surveys distributed, 930 were returned. This information was combined with EPC data for the subsequent development of the LHEES.  

4.4.4. Sharing data across organisations

Data sharing was the most straight forward where partnerships were established, or where the data was owned by the council, and publicly available. For example: 

 "We had worked with the consultants previously, so a lot of the data that they used they had actually gained from previous studies conducted with us. We had a lot of data sharing agreements already in place. 

…And for that reason we decided to keep our focus on public buildings because we had access to data and we could give it over freely." (local authority officer)

In this case, the LHEES pilot focused on council-owned buildings, and the local authority officer highlights that it was the availability of data that led them to select this project. A similar justification was cited by another of the officers that focused on the public sector, who noted that "it's public sector…we were happy to give [the consultant] that data" (Inverclyde). The consultant (who worked on both of these projects) highlighted that they were already involved in the Non-Domestic Energy Efficiency (NDEE) framework, making access to additional data much more straightforward: 

"We hold, through the NDEE framework, we hold a significant amount of data on public sector. But we hold that because we run that programme, that's not available to the wider public sector and it's actually a very useful data set for starting to look at different things." (consultant) 

Thus, prior engagement in energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation could lead to additional data being available. However, certain organisations being privilege to information that others cannot access could lead to a lack of parity in what local authorities are able to incorporate into their LHEES. Arguably, accurate and detailed datasets need to be made equally available across all 32 local authorities

Establishing new data sharing agreements

Beyond these established relationships, the most significant challenge and hindrance to progress was the sharing of data amongst the different organisations involved in delivering the LHEES pilots. The challenge here was two-fold. First, data held within local authorities needed to be made available to partner organisations. This often meant that the officers managing the LHEES pilots had to coordinate across council departments to secure the relevant information. In these cases, officers reported having to justify the use of the data and reassure colleagues:

"I would say we struggled internally with some of our services to get engaged to get the data to a reasonable time and in a reasonable state. There was almost like a lot of anxiety about passing that over: "Well what are the consultants using it for? Why do they need to see it?" … In some cases it almost felt like there was a fear that what they had was not good enough." (local authority officer)

 "We obviously have a list of registered properties that we understand as being privately rented. And then to get that information shared to an external organisation was quite a challenge through legal. …we went back to the data in relation to what you can identify and it was owning or residing in a particular property." (local authority officer)

Specific concerns here were that the data held by local authorities was 'not good enough' or that data shared by the council could be used to identify individuals and thus contravene the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). These challenges were amplified when project teams sought to secure data from organisations outside of the immediate pilot partnerships:

"I had great faith when we started the project that a lot of the data would be already available but [the council] weren't experienced in dealing with the licensing, particularly the GDPR issues. And also EST who hold the Home Analytics database weren't particularly quick to resolve some of those issues." (consultant)

Thus, a lack of readiness at the outset of the project resulted in delays when organisations requested data. A lack of consistency in data sharing requirements across organisations was also reported:

"Our legal team said they don't really think we need a data sharing agreement, it's anonymous, there's no address details. [The consultant's] feeling on it was that in isolation that data was anonymised, but if you put that data in combination with other information then in theory you could start to narrow that down as households and demographics. They would have been more comfortable with a data sharing agreement and it was legal advisor saying we don't want it, we don't need it, we're not going to put anything together, you're saying you want something so where do we go from here?" (local authority officer)

Negotiation over the requirement for a data sharing agreement is an activity that can be time and resource intensive. The future roll-out of LHEES would benefit from clear guidelines in terms of when data sharing agreements are required, and the provision of templates for these. 

Limited access to available data 

Whilst project teams worked hard to identify and secure access to available data, there were limitations in the information that was shared with them. In particular, several project teams were disappointed by engagement with Resource Efficient Scotland that did not yield as much information as they had hoped:  

"Resource Efficient Scotland have done so many audits on SMEs, in far more detail than just going around with a tick box. If we had just been given access to that it would have probably influenced LHEES even more but all they were able to do was give us a general, 'We've seen this many buildings.' There was a very general piece that they felt that that's what they could legally give us (local authority officer)

"We couldn't get access to the detailed information and what they provided us with was a very kind of high level analysis of the types of things that were found, but we couldn't tie that back to individual types of business… it was of limited value to us." (consultant)

Resource Efficient Scotland (RES) have an established remit of engaging with SMEs to help them save energy. A significant part of this is completing energy audits for businesses across Scotland. The LHEES pilots that focused on SMEs thought that RES would be able to share this energy audit data for use in the pilot. However, concerns about data protection meant that the data was combined into a more general report about overall energy consumption. One project team noted that RES were able to clarify that when undertaking an energy survey this did not include asking the business to be able to share the data, thus preventing sharing. A changed approach was discussed where RES included a request to be able to share the data collected in the future. Another suggestion was to find a way to make the data 'non-personal and non-attributable' in order to develop a database that could be incorporated into future LHEES development. However, it was also noted that, although RES have close contact with businesses, the focus of the audit is on specific energy saving interventions, rather than a database of individual building properties. It may be useful in future for RES to collect more comprehensive information when completing energy audits. 

A similar problem was identified when accesing data through Scottish Assessors:

"What was difficult for me was although we're using Scottish Assessors, I'm having to physically go in and out of [the data for] individual properties to find the information. I did approach the assessors and ask: 'is there any way we can get a report just for these areas? only for non-domestic.' In theory, yes, they agreed. But under GDPR they said no. At this moment in time they're not comfortable pursuing that. So that has been quite a laborious task to do that." (local authority officer)

Thus, the generalised data protection regulations (GDPR) led to aggregate information being provided, rather than on a property-by-property basis. GDPR also resulted in limited information being shared from the Home Analytics database, managed by EST

"If we'd said in the application it was area-wide then they would have been quite happy to share the area-wide data with us but they were very specific and said 'If you've only said that the project is for these areas, then we can only give you the data for these areas.'." (local authority officer)

In this case, the council officer highlighted that data was only made available for the area stipulated in the pilot proposal. Whilst this is an understandable approach, it limited the project team's ability to situate the LHEES analysis within an area-wide scope. This is problematic given that a core ambition of LHEES is to provide a strategy for a whole local authority area.  There is consequently a clear need to explore how detailed data can be shared whilst adhering to the requirements of GDPR. This could take the form of guidelines for the development of data sharing agreements between organisations, or Scottish Government overseeing the availability and management of different datasets.

4.5. Stakeholder engagement

Key Lessons

  • Participants felt that it was too early in the LHEES programme to engage the general public.
  • High levels of engagement took place when trying to target specific sectors, for example activities with landlords in the private rented sector.
  • Engagement with other public sector organisations (NHS, Fire and Rescue) was challenging due to their limited time availability.
  • It was especially difficult to engage with businesses, particularly SMEs. Most project teams experienced extremely low rates of engagement from these groups.
  • Working with colleagues in Business Development was helpful for creating a strategy to engage SMEs.
  • Door-to-door visits, with notification via letter but without prior formal appointment, proved to be the most successful way to engage SMEs.
  • Private landlords did attend events organised for them, suggesting an interest in energy efficiency amongst this group.

The level of stakeholder engagement undertaken varied across the pilot projects. Some projects took a broader, area-wide approach to LHEES development. This remained a largely desk-based exercise and resulted in little stakeholder engagement:

"…we had a brief discussion with a group of people up in [the local area] which are developing a smart sustainable action plan. They're doing a lot on the commercial and industrial side. Trying to tie up and perhaps install a district heating system…so we had a bit of a discussion with them about it but it wasn't really widely publicised, it was just, "We're doing a pilot. We'll let you know how it goes when the statutory duty comes in and you'll probably hear about it a bit more." (local authority officer

Reflecting comments during the Phase 1 LHEES pilots, and that above, several local authority officers noted that they had undertaken limited stakeholder engagement on the basis that LHEES was not yet a statutory duty. They generally felt that it was still too early in the LHEES programme to engage the broader public:

"I'm not sure because it still seems a bit kind of up in the air…it's almost like I'm waiting for someone to tell me, "You can share this, you know," And then I will. (local authority officer)

Thus, there was a reluctance to engage a broad audience in the LHEES process. However, high levels of engagement took place where project teams were trying to target specific sectors, for example: public sector buildings, SMEs and the private rented sector. In all of these cases, engagement activities were carefully tailored to different stakeholders; these had varied results and are each discussed in turn below. 

Other public sector organisations

Two pilot projects focused on public sector buildings. This meant engaging with local authority colleagues, but also broader public sector organisations. For one of the pilots, this included the NHS, Scottish Fire and Rescue, and Police Scotland. The project team had been able to establish contact with all of these stakeholders and coordinate the sharing of energy consumption data for the buildings they owned. This engagement often took the form of one-to-one meetings between members of the project team and individuals from these organisations who were responsible for building management. However, one participant highlighted that this engagement work was not always straightforward:

"We engaged [the local] NHS, met with them, took a long time to agree even to the meeting, they wanted to know, "What do you want this for?" So we then met them, told them, and they promised to give us data. We chased and chased and chased and it wasn't… It wasn't that they didn't want to give us it, it was just everybody was busy with other things." (local authority officer)

This chasing of data proved to be unsuccessful and the project team eventually sought data via Health Facilities Scotland who manage a central repository of NHS data. This is representative of the challenge that local authorities have in engaging with different sectors. The project team emphasised that, although they could develop an LHEES, it would be difficult for them to influence organisations that they are not responsible for.

Small and medium enterprises 

Challenges in engaging stakeholders were particularly acute for those project teams seeking to work with businesses. Several projects focused on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which are businesses of under 250 employees[8]. In all of these cases, multiple different engagement strategies were trialed: 

"The engagement with non-domestic buildings is very difficult. We promoted a survey through an event with the Chamber of Commerce, Facebook campaign and support from the Transition Pilot knocking on doors and only received two responses from SME's" (Consultant) 

Despite the use of targeted surveys, advertising via Facebook, mail drops, and door knocking, both of the projects referred to by this consultant struggled to engage local businesses. Orkney also attempted a survey with local businesses, but didn't get any responses. Another pilot project focused solely on developing a strategy for engaging SMEs. Similarly, they used several different approaches (including surveys, mail drops, and door knocking), but they also worked closely with locally established business support with the council: 

"It was working with the Supplier Development Programme…to share information about energy efficiency. When they have events, they're not necessarily for businesses just in the area that the event's held. So they get a lot of [Council] wide but also Scotland wide local authorities coming to their events.

…We also had the Business Gateway and [Council] Chamber, to see if we could tap into any of their existing channels to promote. That included them putting it on their e-zines and social media." (local authority officer) 

The project team worked closely with the Council's Supplier Development Programme, Business Gateway, Chamber of Commerce, and Economic Development department to identify and attempt to communicate with local SMEs. Within Economic Development, Business Relationship Managers were able to use existing contacts with local businesses to approach them about energy efficiency; however, this also had limitations:

 "To comply with GDPR you can post or phone but not leave a voicemail. And so we did that. The first round of postal I got lots of undeliverable back because I used the data from the economic development database, which as you would imagine was out of date pretty quick. And then I was able to use my existing contacts that had an email address. But I could only email them because I had an existing relationship. I couldn't then pass the email on to people to give out. It could only come from me." (local authority officer)

In order to comply with GDPR, this officer within Economic Development was unable to share their existing contacts with colleagues. This meant that establishing and maintaining relationships with local businesses (with a view to encouraging them to take up energy activities) was reliant on one individual within the council. Although this delivered some results for the project, this is an unsustainable model for the national roll-out of LHEES. There is a need to facilitate the sharing of data, for example through a centralised council resource, to enable wider communications with businesses

Door-to-door visits without prior appointment proved to be the most successful way to engage SMEs. Efforts to make prior appointments failed (Fife) and use of surveys yielded very few responses:

"But the door-to-door was the way to get the information. We also did a survey and I think we sent it out to over 800 I think it was. And we got like 27 responses." (local authority officer)

In this case, the door-to-door visits were relatively informal. Local businesses were informed that visits would take place via a letter from the Council, but the project team simply engaged with businesses who were present and available on the day, rather than attempting to schedule appointments. These projects have delivered stronger understandings of how to engage with businesses, particularly SMEs. Despite this, it is worth noting that, once businesses are engaged, there is still a low rate of conversion to them undertaking energy efficiency interventions:

"From the 160 we got… was it 36 we got referrals. And then in terms of actually going from the referral to taking some sort of action, I think that was round about sort of four we got." (local authority officer)

Private rented sector 

Only one pilot project focused on the private rented sector (East Lothian). In this case, two workshops were organised and a register of private landlords was used to identify invitees. Each of the workshops attracted approximately 30 attendees. Attendance at these events suggests an interest in energy efficiency amongst private landlords in the region. However, work may be required to ensure that private landlords are aware of the reasons for taking energy efficiency measures, and upcoming changes to the regulations. In addition, this project included sending a questionnaire to tenants, which attracted approximately 21 responses. 

4.6. Supporting the roll-out of LHEES

Key Lessons

  • Additional guidance is required for ensuring some consistency and parity across different local authorities. This should retain an open scope, but needs to provide a clear definition of what LHEES is, and what it should encompass, including suitable technologies.
  • A single repository for relevant data would support the development of a timely and consistent LHEES.
  • Scottish Government needs to create longer-term mechanisms for local authorities and consultants to share information about the development of LHEES; this includes both face-to-face interactions and online information sharing platforms.
  • It would be helpful if Scottish Government created or reinforced mechanisms to encourage large businesses to engage with LHEES.
  • All of the local authority officers and consultants interviewed were in favour of LHEES becoming a statutory duty. This would offer more leverage to existing council strategies, but needs to come with enforcement and additional resource for local authorities.

4.6.1. Create guidance and support skills development

Local authorities felt that the breadth of the call for the Phase 2 pilots was helpful in allowing them to develop strategies suited to the specificities of their region:

 "So the fact it's been very open has actually been very helpful because we've been allowed to come and say, 'Well, this is what fits.'  Rather than, 'this is how we've had to twist it and jam it into your square peg to make it sort of work here and provide the objectives that you wanted'." (local authority officer)

This case shows that having an open scope can be helpful for ensuring that LHEES are tailored to different areas. However, there is a carfeul balance to strike here. A lack of guidance was also highlighted: 

"For me, with LHEES there's a lot of missing guidance. Standardisation, methodologies, it's a bit of a head scratch, 'What do we do here?' So you start with your action plans and you start with what should be in the LHEES stages, how does that work? How does it work with what we're doing? There is nothing to say, 'Here is the work flow and events, here's what you need to do.' That's been difficult." (local authority officer)

Thus, some authorities found that the lack of guidance made it difficult to structure and progress the project with certainty that the result would be in line with Scottish Government's expectations. Additional guidance is important for ensuring some consistency and parity across the different local authorities:

 "it could be having five authorities all touching each other and all having completely different approaches to LHEES. The major difficulty there is if a developer comes to us and wants to build houses and we say, 'You can't do them unless you put in heat pumps and unless you do this and that' And if they say, 'I'll go build them in [a neighbouring local authority] because they're not going to make me do all that.' I think that we need to be pretty consistent across the board … But at least with neighbouring authorities there has to be a wee bit of a joined up approach to say, 'What are you guys actually doing?.' " (local authority officer)

Clear guidance (coupled with a clear legal framework and encouragement across sectors – see Sections 4.6.4 and 4.6.5) will help to ensure that activities within one local authority do not have a detrimental impact in another, and vice versa. This guidance needs to provide a clearer definition of what LHEES is, and what a LHEES should include. One recurring theme during the interviews was the focus on district heating. Several local authorities felt that LHEES was a mechanism for supporting district heating, but this technology was not suited to their area. This was particularly true where local authorities had remote and rural areas within their remit. As such, there needs to be more clarity around which technologies are included in LHEES. In addition, guidance should include fixed targets for councils to work towards. The shift in national climate targets for net zero emissions by 2045 happened during the Phase 2 pilots; this meant that project teams had to adjust their expectations when the pilot was already underway. Further, the lack of clear targets for public sector and non-domestic buildings were mentioned several times by interviewees. It is important to provide clear and consistent long-term targets for local authorities to work towards when developing LHEES

Some suggestions for how to develop the LHEES process include following the models used in similar schemes; the Non-Domestic Energy Efficiency framework was cited as one example:

 "the way that they've developed the non-domestic framework means that we can be very much engaged but the process is very well managed. LHEES needs that kind of framework structure where there's clear reporting, there's clear guidelines, of exactly what it is that LHEES needs to contain. And how it expects you to include SMEs, how it expects you to include industry, how it expects you to include private housing, rental housing, so that it's very clear about the structure and then what's available with regards to grants and loans." (local authority officer)

Thus, there are existing schemes in operation that Scottish Government could use as a template to structure the LHEES development process.

4.6.2. Support data availability

Access to data was one of the biggest challenges, and most time consuming aspects, of the LHEES Phase 2 pilots. Several project teams suggested that a central data repository would be helpful: 

 "if it can be somewhere that the Scottish Government has that information then all the stuff is signed off in a way that it can then be shared. That would be so much easier than each local authority having to go to them and go through the process" (local authority officer)

In this way, Scottish Government could develop a central bank of data, with the necessary data sharing permissions in place for local authorities and their partners to access. An example cited by Inverclyde was the work of Health Facilities Scotland, who are an overarching NHS body. They store information centrally, rather than it being held by individual NHS boards:

"if you want to know how public sectors should organise their data, you look at the NHS platform that they have because they've sorted this. All their data is automatically updated from the utility company to a portal and everybody can see everybody's site" (local authority officer)

A single repository for relevant data would support the development of timely and consistent LHEES. This would mean that individual project teams did not have to approach organisations (such as EST) on an individual basis to request data, and reduce the overall resource requirement for sourcing relevant information. In addition, to develop a full picture of the building stock for LHEES, there is a need to encourage and possibly enforce data sharing amongst organisations in the private sector: 

 "We will not be able to conduct effectively what they want us to achieve unless there's a regulatory stipulation placed onto the industrial partners to share data and to work with us. It's key." (local authority officer)

4.6.3. Develop mechanisms for sharing information across councils 

Several project teams emphasised their appreciation for the support received from individuals at Scottish Government throughout the Phase 2 pilots. Participants highlighted that they would like to retain this level of one-to-one contact for quickly resolving queries and ensuring that the LHEES is progressing in the right direction. However, they also mentioned that a change in personnel during the pilots had been quite disruptive. One solution to this would be to split the liaising role between two people, who each spend part of their time working on this – this would help to distribute knowledge about the pilots and ensure continuity for project teams if Scottish Government roles were to change in future. 

More broadly, project teams emphasised that they would appreciate more opportunities to share information regularly, and learn from one another. In some cases, authority officers noted that they had established ways of working with other local authorities which had been useful for the Phase 2 pilots: 

 "when they first brought out the heat strategy, I think that was about five years ago, we formed a collective to effectively try and understand what was going on and how we would implement that within the councils and that then morphed into the local LHEES group. … some of us specialise in data, some of us specialise in policy and we all effectively meet up either over the phone or in person and we each give updates on where we are, what we need help with and we work together to try and overcome any challenges that we've got." (local authority officer)

This local LHEES group was useful for sharing information about the pilots, and suggests that such sub-regional partnerships could be effective in the development of LHEES. However, it was not replicated across all local authorities. In another example, an officer explained that they had good awareness of what a nearby local authority was doing for their pilot, but only because an existing relationship was already in place from a previous project collaboration.  However, these successful information sharing activities were formed on an ad hoc basis and not all authorities were part of them. The workshops that were set up and run by Scottish Government were recognised as beneficial for knowledge sharing: 

"we learnt more about other LHEES in that few hours than anything else that we've done…from having sat there and listened, I think it was Glasgow talk about theirs, Highlands talked about theirs, I think it would have been really useful from our perspective. … But that gave a really good insight into what seemed to be what the Scottish Government were thinking in terms of what an LHEES looked like" (local authority officer)

Thus, the LHEES workshops hosted by Scottish Government were a helpful way to establish what is expected from the LHEES process, and understand what other pilot teams were doing. Indeed, local authorities and consultants highlighted that they would appreciate more ways to share lessons from the pilots (for example, through additional workshops). This included regular progress check-ins: 

 "An idea would have been to have Government to coordinate it together. Once a month, 'Where are you? What are you doing? How are things going?'" (local authority officer)

In addition, the use of collaborative software and online tools was also recommended:

"The opportunity for Microsoft Teams. Particularly with the rural island councils. If it comes to, 'actually you need to do this statutorily by a certain date,' I think there's much better chance of everybody going, 'OK, let's compare notes and let's get this done.' And things like Microsoft Teams might be a really good way of doing that because the rural councils could then get together and say, 'Well actually, let's do some Skypes quarterly, let's catch up.'" (local authority officer) 

It is important to create consistent mechanisms for local authorities and consultants to share information about the development of LHEES; this includes both face-to-face interactions and online information sharing platforms. 

4.6.4. Engage larger businesses

All of the project teams taking part in the Phase 2 pilots recognised the importance of LHEES. However, they highlighted that action within many of the properties to be included in an LHEES was beyond their control. This is particularly true for privately owned properties and businesses. As a result, pilot teams recognised the significance of support from Scottish Government for engaging large companies:

"It's so difficult to engage at a local level with larger companies. …And the same for the kind of shopping centre that's owned by… is it an asset management company that's funded by a pensions fund that's national. So again, they're managing it locally but they're not doing the structure and the heat supply and that sort of thing. (local authority officer)

In this case, the project team emphasised that it was difficult to engage with large businesses, like supermarkets, at a local level. This is primarily because the energy strategy of a supermarket chain (or equivalent chain of stores) will be determined at a national level. As a result, if LHEES is intended to include large businesses, it would be helpful if Scottish Government created or reinforced mechanisms to encourage large businesses to engage with LHEES, or work to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in line with broader targets. Potential actions include encouraging or requiring businesses to connect to heat networks: 

"If you're next to a heat network then you should connect to it or you should have to at least give a good reason why you don't connect to it…there's stuff that could be done to very, very, strongly encourage and enforce good practice. It has to happen through LHEES." (consultant)

"if you're looking for them to participate, then generally speaking there needs to be some form of incentive involved in that. So that would be either by the form of grant funding or avoiding some form of tax or… You have renewable heat incentives and there used to be feed in tariffs. In terms of district heating, I'm not sure there's anything specifically there. But if there was a promotion of district heating then it will enable this to kick start that effectively, then I think there needs to be some grants available for that." (local authority officer)

Scottish Government can thus support in securing participation from large businesses and organisations outside of the local authority's remit, using mechanisms including legislation to enforce compliance, tax incentives and grant funding. This will be crucial for supporting local authorities as they develop council-wide strategies that include all sectors. 

4.6.5. Make LHEES a statutory duty

All of the local authority officers and consultants interviewed were in favour of LHEES becoming a statutory duty. This is in line with the findings of the Phase 1 pilots evaluation, where all project teams were also in favour of LHEES becoming a statutory duty[9]. Some participants emphasised that LHEES would have to be made statutory for councils to go ahead with it: 

"if they do not make it a statutory obligation, it will not happen … we will say the things you need us to say and… but it won't actually mean anything." (local authority officer)

"there has to be an acceleration in development because we have a climate emergency, we need to achieve this. Let's just do this. This is what you now have to do: legislate in order to make it happen" (consultant)

Local authority officers and consultants emphasised that LHEES needed to be made a statutory duty to be prioritised for action by local authorities. In addition, participants noted that if LHEES were made statutory, there would be more leverage for it to feed into existing and upcoming council strategies. For example, one local authority officer said that the LHEES would go 'hand-in-hand' with their Climate Change Strategy (East Lothian). In relation to this, making LHEES statutory would also support local authorities in encouraging action from necessary stakeholders:

 "without it being statutory, there's not an enormous amount we can do externally with it. We can make sure it's out there and people are aware that it exists. But again, it's not a statutory requirement and there's no enforcement. And it's only guidance and advice and new developers can quite easily come back to us and say, 'No, we're not doing that'. If it becomes statutory I think we've got a much clearer path at that point in terms of how we would use this." (local authority officer)

Thus, if LHEES is a statutory duty, it can underpin potential terms of procurement and activities from developers. In addition, making LHEES statutory is essential for ensuring parity across different local authorities:

 "for the government to say, 'it would be nice if you did an LHEES' … people who have got the resources and want the kudos will say: 'Right, we're definitely going for it'. It would then tail off as you went down the rankings. So it wouldn't have national coverage" (local authority officer) 

Some participants went further in highlighting that action would vary amongst different local authorities. For example, one suggested that penalties would be needed to ensure that the statutory duty was delivered: 

"Participant: Effectively, unless there's regulation or unless there are penalties attributed to failure to comply, we as officers are not able to implement action.  It will continue to stagnate. 

Interviewer: What would a penalty look like?

Participant: I think it would have to be financial.

Interviewer: So less money allocated to the council in future budgets type thing. 

Participant: Yeah. And it would have to also inform some form of public recognition of failure." (local authority officer)

This participant felt that a strong element of enforcement would need to be included for ensuring that LHEES got delivered. Similar points were made about the need for supporting regulation and 'pushes' to encourage different groups to participate: 

 "making it statutory is fine but there's not enough policy instruments in place to actually allow you to progress with it at the moment, I don't think. [The district heating regulations] might give a bit more confidence that people are going to be treated fairly regarding heat price and things like that. But can you really force a solution on somebody? In the current climate? I'm not sure you can. I'm all for it, I just don't think there's policy instruments in place at the moment to enact it." (consultant)

In this case, the Heat Networks Bill[10] was discussed because of its potential to facilitiate the delivery of LHEES. However, it was highlighted that this policy instrument is not strong enough, for example, in requiring groups to connect to heat networks. As a result, the Bill only goes some way to supporting the delivery of LHEES.

In addition to potential penalties and stronger regulatory support, more resource needs to be provided to local authorities to deliver LHEES:

 " 'OK, you're placing this upon us as a duty, how are you going to help resource it?' is really going to be the biggest challenge." (local authority officer)

"I think we would also maybe look at extra resources and possibly take on an LHEES team as such, because I think there is a vast project to undertake…It's over such a long period of time too. We're talking 20, 30 years in order to get all the properties up to a certain level. It's not just a year project. Obviously the data gathering aspect of it and the engagement aspect of it, the technologies, it's a long-term project, definitely." (local authority officer)

5. Conclusion

This report has presented an evaluation of the Phase 2 pilots for Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES). LHEES aim to establish local authority area-wide plans and priorities for systematically improving the energy efficiency of buildings, and decarbonising heat.  The Phase 2 pilots, coordinated by Scottish Government, took place between May 2018 to December 2019. The Phase 2 LHEES pilots sought to understand the requirements for specific sectors, and requested that proposals focus on one of the following areas: 

  • Energy efficiency in the: 
    • "able-to-pay" (both domestic and non-domestic) sector
    • domestic private rented sector
    • Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector (both industrial and services)
    • public sector
  • Identifying opportunities to establish or support energy efficiency and low carbon heat supply chains 
  • Identifying low regrets opportunities for the decarbonisation of heat supply

The approach adopted for the pilots allowed project teams to develop detailed understandings of different sectors. This included detail on the make up and quality of the building stock in a particular sector (for example, the private rented sector), and also develop strategies for engaging particular groups (for example, SMEs). This knowledge will be invaluable for working across sectors within the broader LHEES programme. However, the sector-based focus of the Phase 2 pilots does not reflect the broader aim of LHEES, which is to establish an area-wide plan for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation across all building types. In several cases, the sector focus removed the ability to explore opportunities for district heating, which would rely on connections from buildings across different sectors. The primary aims of the LHEES Phase 2 pilots were to: test and develop methods for creating an LHEES; identify relevant sources of data (and any data gaps); and gain a fuller understanding of the resources and capabilities required to deliver an LHEES. It is against these aims that the conclusions will be considered:

Testing and developing new methods for creating LHEES

Seven of the Phase 2 pilots collated data on the whole local authority area; the remaining four focused on specific regions. The majority of pilots selected one or two building sectors to focus on; these sectors were in line with those requested by Scottish Government. Through the pilots, project teams were able to develop an understanding of the process of developing a LHEES and create an 'evidence base' of the building stock. This included greater understandings of just how difficult the process of doing a full LHEES would be, and the significant time and resource implications of this. Hiring consultants with prior knowledge of the local area, and working in close partnerships helped to ensure a sense of local ownership of LHEES.

In terms of developing a LHEES, there were varied levels of awareness of the 'six stages' across the different partners involved in the pilots. Stages 1 and 2 had been completed by all of the pilot teams. Stages 4 and 5 had been completed by some of the pilot teams, although some had little awareness of Stage 4 (the socio-economic assessment). There was little evidence of Stages 3 (authority-wide target setting) or 6 (costing and phasing of delivery programmes) being completed across the pilots. In particular, none of the pilots created a fully costed and phased delivery programme.

Identify relevant sources of data and any data gaps

All of the project teams utilised a variety of relevant sources of data. Detailed energy consumption and building information was available for council-owned public sector buildings; it was harder to establish an accurate picture for privately owned and rented domestic properties and businesses. The Scotland Heat Map and Energy Performance Certificate databases were used by all of the project teams. Although useful for high-level strategic review, more accurate data will be needed for pursuing specific projects at individual building level. Data inaccuracies are most prevalent for private non-domestic buildings. The most significant hindrance to progress was the sharing of data amongst different organisations. Concerns about data protection meant that general reports were made available to project teams, rather than detailed building-level data.

Additional data was collected during the pilots; mainly through site visits to a small sample of properties to verify building information. Some of these site visits included SMEs; these were most successful if businesses were notified in advance via letter, but the meetings themselves were organised on an ad hoc basis.

Gain a fuller understanding of the resources and capabilities required to develop LHEES

The development of a LHEES is highly technical. Key skills for this  include the collation and analysis of numerous datasets, and knowledge of buildings and building services. LHEES also requires significant expertise in project management and strategies for engaging different stakeholders. Within local authorities, there is a shortage of the skills necessary to support the development of LHEES, particularly in data management and analysis. Consultants are well positioned to address skills gaps and cater to the multi-disciplinary nature of LHEES; it is important that consultants develop knowledge of the local area and can adapt to locally-specific circumstances. Throughout the Phase 2 pilots, data analysis, project management and stakeholder engagement were particularly resource intensive activities. 

High levels of stakeholder engagement took place when trying to target specific sectors. Engagement with other public sector organisations (NHS, Fire and Rescue) was challenging due to their limited time availability. It was especially difficult to engage with businesses, particularly SMEs. Most project teams experienced extremely low rates of engagement from these groups. Working with colleagues in Business Development was helpful for creating a strategy to engage SMEs. Private landlords did attend events organised for them, suggesting an interest in energy efficiency amongst this group.

Key Lessons:

  • Supporting and upskilling local authority officers would be useful for enabling the delivery of LHEES over the next 15-20 years. A helpful focus for this would be capabilities for the management, interpretation and analysis of data.
  • Local authorities and consultants would benefit from being able to share information about the development of LHEES; this includes both face-to-face interactions and online information sharing platforms.
  • All of the local authority officers and consultants interviewed were in favour of LHEES becoming a statutory duty. This would offer more leverage to existing council strategies, but would be most effective if developed alongside enforcement and additional resource for local authorities. A specific suggestion was funding for a dedicated person in each local authority to support the development and management of LHEES.
  • Additional guidance is essential for ensuring consistency and parity across different local authorities. It would be helpful for this to retain an open scope, but provide a clear definition of what an LHEES is and what it encompasses, including suitable technologies.
  • The socio-economic assessment methodology could be updated to include carbon emissions and fuel poverty alongside factors that underpin council decision making, including the creation of jobs and financial returns. A specific suggestion is to attribute a weighting factor to the financial benefit of the ability to not have to retrofit buildings again in the future.
  • A single repository for relevant data would support the development of a timely and consistent LHEES. Developing this would need to explore how detailed data can be provided whilst adhering to GDPR. Clear guidelines in terms of when data sharing agreements are required, and the provision of templates for these, would also be helpful.
  • If LHEES is to include large businesses, there may be a need to enforce this through legislation, create or reinforce mechanisms to encourage large businesses to engage with LHEES.


Email: lowcarbonfuture@gov.scot

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