New Build Heat Standard: factsheet

New homes and buildings must install climate-friendly heating systems from April 2024. Find out more.

The regulations containing the New Build Heat Standard are subject to current review to address concerns raised on the use of woodburning stoves and the wider use of bioenergy systems, particularly in rural and island communities.

The New Build Heat Standard (NBHS), as it stands, applies only to new buildings applying for a building warrant from 1 April 2024 and limited conversions. These buildings will not be allowed to use direct emission (or polluting) heating systems like oil and gas boilers.

Instead, they will need to use climate-friendly alternatives like heat pumps and heat networks (also referred to as clean heating systems). Heat networks can be used regardless of their fuel source, including ones using direct emissions heat.

The Standard only applies to systems used for heating and cooling and does not apply to industrial process heat.

We have consulted on developing separate proposals for heating existing buildings and are considering responses.

Conversions to existing buildings

A conversion is a particular change in occupation or use of a building, for example changing an office to a hotel or an attic into a bedroom. Building regulations define and treat conversions differently to alterations and extensions.

If you are converting an existing building, the NBHS will apply if:

  • you have a direct emissions heating system in the building or area of the building you are converting, and
  • it is ‘reasonably practicable’ to install a clean heating system  – guidance on what is considered 'reasonably practicable' is provided in support of the new standard 6.11 within Section 6 (energy) of the 2024 Technical Handbooks.

Exceptions to the NBHS

The NBHS does not apply :

  • if you are altering or extending a building built under a warrant applied for before 1 April 2024
  • to an emergency heating system
  • to heating provided solely for the purpose of frost protection

For more detail see the Building Standards Technical Handbooks. These provide further detail on what is considered emergency back-up use. 

Solid fuel burning stoves

There is no blanket ban on solid fuel burning stoves. These can continue to be used in existing buildings. Under the New Build Heat Standard, such solutions can also still be installed in new homes to provide ‘emergency heating’ where required.  This is in direct response to consultation feedback to recognise the unique needs of Scotland’s rural communities.

We have been listening to the concerns raised since the introduction of the Standard about the reliance on biomass and wood-burning stoves by rural and island communities, and are taking these fully on board.

To address this, we will review the regulations to consider the treatment of woodburning stoves and the wider use of bioenergy systems in more detail. We will do this in collaboration with concerned parties, including communities, businesses and Local Authorities to ensure that any regulations review reflects the concerns raised.  

Until a review has been completed, the Standard remains in force. We will consider what further action may be needed in the interim for any specific cases facing challenges. 

In the interim, emergency heating through a fixed installation can be considered if the size, complexity, or heat demand makes portable solutions not suitable. The NBHS is technology neutral and only makes a distinction between direct and zero direct emissions heating. Any inclusion of emergency heat can be through the building warrant application which is already required at time of building, or it can be included after following the same process. Local Authorities Building Standards are responsible for considering all building warrant applications.

Building warrants applied for before April 2024

The NBHS will apply to building warrants applied for from 1 April 2024. A building warrant is legal permission to start building work or convert a property, and lasts for 3 years. A building warrant can be extended for an initial period of 9 months. Further extensions are at the discretion of the building standards officer.This means not all new buildings completed after 1 April 2024 will meet the NBHS due to developments being at different stages in the building process.

New developments applying for a building warrant before 1 April 2024 may continue to install direct emission heating systems for as long as the issued building warrant remains valid.

Why the NBHS is being introduced 

Heating Scotland’s homes and buildings is one of the biggest contributors to our carbon emissions. 

The NBHS will help ensure new buildings will not contribute to emissions. People who buy new homes will know its future-proofed against the need to switch heating systems in the future. 

NBHS is part of our wider Heat in Buildings Strategy.

How we developed our proposals 

We consulted on our proposals for the New Build Heat Standard in 2021 and again in 2022. We also carried out a series of impact assessments.

See documents relating to the development of the New Build Heat Standard.

More information

You can read the Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2023 and an accompanying policy note at the website. 

Find out more about our work to transform the way we heat Scotland's buildings.



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