Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES): phase 1 pilots - social evaluation

Findings from the social evaluation of the first phase of LHEES pilots, in which 12 local authorities participated between September 2017 and March 2018.

Executive Summary 


This report details the social and organisational implications of delivering Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES). The concept of LHEES was introduced in 2016 and is being piloted as part of the Energy Efficient Scotland programme. Scottish Government have run consultations on the concept of an LHEES and the possibility of it being a statutory duty. LHEES aim to establish area-based plans and priorities for systematically improving the energy efficiency of buildings, and decarbonising heat. Between September 2017 and March 2019, 12 local authorities participated in the first round of LHEES pilots. The aims of the 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. The findings presented in this report are derived from interviews with all 12 local authorities, the external consultants, and Scottish Government representatives involved in the delivery of these pilots.


All of the local authority officers interviewed stated that, by being part of the pilots, they gained a better understanding of what an LHEES involves. Many of the pilots served to confirm existing local knowledge and provided evidence to support proposed activities, which was generally perceived positively. The majority of participants said that the pilot had encouraged cross-department working and co-operation; however, the lead officer was often in a role which lacked line management authority or budget control, and hence had to rely on the goodwill of colleagues who did not regard LHEES as being a requirement of their role. Whilst some officers felt that the pilots had not provided a clear and definitive method for future LHEES delivery, all of the local authority officers and external consultants interviewed supported LHEES becoming a statutory duty. In all cases, participants said that the development of a statutory duty would need to be coupled with additional resource. 

Key Lessons 

  • Greater certainty in future resource levels at national and local levels would help to facilitate the development of a management model fit for the purpose of delivering the long-term aims of LHEES, and the wider Energy Efficient Scotland programme.
  • Local and national government (and any partners involved in the development of LHEES) should ensure they have a shared understanding and framing of the scope and focus of the LHEES
  • Local authority officers would value greater clarity from Scottish Government on the future of LHEES and the trajectory to deliver this.
  • To facilitate the most efficient use of resources, LHEES development should be integrated with existing local authority strategies and planning activities wherever possible.
  • Much of the data required for LHEES is available, but some local authorities still face challenges with gaining access to some data, and gaps remain in the availability of data for non-domestic properties. This could be improved through implementing compulsory non-domestic energy consumption reporting requirements, and establishing agreements for the sharing of data.
  • Geographical and urban/ rural specificities have a significant influence on the delivery of LHEES. If independent, non-local consultants are involved in the development of LHEES, it is important to find ways to ensure that local needs are adequately incorporated. For example, consultants could spend time in the local authority area in order to better understand the local context.
  • Functions currently provided by Home Energy Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland’s ‘Resource Efficient Scotland’ programme for small and medium-sized businesses should be maintained, as these offer important resources to allow councils to engage across different sectors of the built environment. 
  • Any possible statutory duty to needs to incorporate both the development and implementation of an LHEES, and the resource to deliver this.
  • There is general support amongst local authority officers for LHEES becoming a statutory duty but this would need to be coupled with:
    • More detail and guidance on exactly what is expected
    • Support in establishing chains of accountability
    • Support in engaging senior management and councillors
    • Sufficient resource to deliver an in-depth and useful strategy. Some suggestions made by local authority officers included: the addition of one or two full time officers; support for development of necessary skills; additional consultancy support; resource should be in-house with the local authority.


Email: emily.creamer@gov.scot

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