Scotland was one of the first nations to declare a global climate emergency. The Scottish Government is a leader in the drive for a decarbonised energy system and has legally committed to reducing emissions by 75% by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2045. Homes and workplaces account for approximately a fifth of Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Heat in Buildings Strategy, currently only about 11% of households in Scotland use low emission or renewable heating systems. Non-domestic buildings account for around 7% of Scotland's total greenhouse gas emissions. The Scottish Government understands it is imperative to transition to zero emissions heating systems, beginning with new build domestic and non-domestic buildings.
The New Build Heat Standard (NBHS) is being developed for introduction in 2024. It is the culmination of years of research starting with 'A Low Carbon Building Standards Strategy For Scotland' published in 2007 and updated in 2013 with a goal of providing a 'net zero carbon' standard for new developments. While decarbonisation of the energy system is the goal, there is recognition that additional support for the transition to zero direct emissions heating (ZDEH) systems is needed, whether that is in upskilling the workforce, increasing funding packages to offset costs, or continuing discussions around infrastructure concerns.
A public consultation ran between 28 July and 20 October 2022. This was an opportunity for the Scottish Government to understand a wide variety of stakeholders' views on their proposal for the NBHS, prohibiting the use of direct emissions heating systems in new buildings warranted from April 2024. The consultation contained six closed and eight open questions, covering:
- Regulatory approach to new build domestic and non-domestic buildings.
- Technology, specifically bioenergy systems.
- Approach to conversions.
During the consultation process, the Scottish Government held three engagement events with stakeholders: a Consumer and Equality Workshop, an Island Communities Workshop, and a Non-Domestic Building Workshop. Issues raised at the workshops often aligned with the responses provided to the consultation and relevant points from these engagement events have been included in this analysis.
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