New Build Heat Standard: scoping consultation

We are committed to ensuring that, from 2024, new buildings must use heating systems which produce zero direct emissions at the point of use. We are currently developing our New Build Heat Standard to achieve this, and this scoping consultation sets out our initial vision.

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Executive Summary


Scotland aims to be a world leader in decarbonisation, and remains at the forefront of global efforts to tackle climate change.

Already, Scotland has some of the most ambitious and stringent climate change legislation and targets in the world: with the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019[1] setting a target to reduce the country’s emissions from all greenhouse gases to net-zero by 2045. More pressingly, on the immediate horizon, there is a further statutory target of an emissions reduction of at least 75% by 2030.

While considerable progress has been made in the decarbonisation of electricity (in 2019, an estimated 90% of gross electricity consumption across Scotland came from renewables[2]), the focus has now shifted to how we can decarbonise other key areas such as agriculture and transport – and, in particular, emissions associated with heating our buildings.

To illustrate the scale of this challenge, emissions from buildings are responsible for approximately 20% of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Although significant headway has been made in the decarbonisation our homes and businesses (this figure represents a 24% reduction in emissions from 1990[3]), Scotland cannot meet its legislated climate change targets unless virtually all emissions from heating (and cooling) buildings are eliminated.

This means, in effect that by 2045, zero emissions heating will need to be deployed across Scotland’s building stock.

We also have to ensure that demand for heat in our buildings is as low as possible, to meet our fuel poverty obligations and to protect consumers from high energy costs and cold homes - as well as to optimise efficient use of energy networks.

The Scottish Government will develop regulations to ensure that, as far as is within our legislative competence, all buildings use zero emissions heating and cooling systems by 2045.

Separately, we will begin work to put in place the necessary regulatory measures needed to drive the transition away from high emissions heating systems towards these zero emissions heating systems in existing buildings. We will outline our likely approach to regulation of existing buildings in the Heat in Buildings Strategy for Scotland and updated Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map, due for publication later in 2020 alongside the updated Climate Change Plan.

This current consultation focuses on our approach to regulation of new buildings, meeting the commitment set out in the 2019 Programme for Government to require new buildings to use renewable or low carbon heat.

However, if we are to meet the targets set out within the Climate Change Act 2019, the Scottish Government believes simply requiring ‘low carbon’ heat will no longer be sufficient – instead, it is imperative that new homes consented from 2024 use zero direct emissions heating and cooling, and also feature high levels of fabric energy efficiency to reduce overall heat demand. It is our intention to phase in a similar approach from 2024 for new non-domestic buildings.

While new buildings are only a small part of the problem, we cannot add any new emissions to Scotland’s overall inventory because of the rapid decarbonisation efforts needed to reach net zero – to do so would be incompatible with our commitment to end Scotland’s contribution to climate change within a generation.

By acting now and legislating for 2024, new buildings will lead the way: by helping Scotland achieve our statutory climate change targets, avoiding adding further greenhouse gas emissions to Scotland’s inventory, and negating the need for the disruptive and expensive retrofit of buildings further down the line.

Delivering this ambition will require work to build upon two of the key priorities of the 2050 vision detailed in Scotland’s Energy Strategy[4]:

Low Carbon Solutions

We will continue to champion and explore the potential of Scotland’s huge renewable energy resource, and its ability to meet our local and national heat, transport and electricity needs – helping to achieve our ambitious emission reduction targets

Energy Efficiency

We will continue to take direct and supporting actions to improve the use and management of energy in Scotland’s homes, buildings, industrial processes and manufacturing.

Furthermore, it is envisaged that these proposals would also be reflected in the Housing to 2040 vision and route map to get there.

The draft vision[5], which sets out the Scottish Government aspirations for Scotland’s future housing system, is underpinned by a number of key, high-level principles – including Principle 9 which set out our initial vision for 'high quality, sustainable homes', and how they can 'be consistent with the target for Scotland's emissions to be net zero carbon by 2045'.


The purpose of this Scoping Consultation is to seek your views on the Scottish Government's vision for delivering the heating requirements of new buildings from 2024 onwards, as it is imperative that this Standard is one which is effective, practical and fit-for-purpose.

This vision will be supported by a number of key outcomes (listed in Chapter 1) that we wish to see achieved during this transition.

The feedback and evidence received in response to this consultation will help to prepare the foundations for a more detailed Technical Consultation – which will launch in 2021. This second consultation will specify the proposed Standard and contain information on key areas such as compliance and enforcement.

The Scottish Government believes that the time is now right to set out a clear vision for 2024 and to signal our intentions, giving industry sufficient time to prepare for the changes this Standard will introduce.

Whilst emissions standards for new buildings, set through building regulations, were significantly improved in 2010 and 2015, the economic downturn of the late 2000s was a limiting factor in realising these broader ambitions.

However, these changes have still delivered, on aggregate, a reduction of over 70% in the greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy use in new homes compared to standards applied in 1990 (the base reporting year for carbon dioxide emissions).

Now, with the industry striving to return to a sense of normality a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scottish Government is committed to working with the construction sector to help ensure the transition to a zero emissions future is successful.

We are working through the Construction Leadership Forum (CLF), chaired by the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, through the pandemic, to produce a green recovery plan for the industry which will support the development of a more sustainable, productive, innovative, and profitable construction sector.

Ensuring support for training and skills development - as well as supply chain capacity building – will be vital, and these issues (as well as the actions taken/ proposed by the

Scottish Government to support these) are explored further within Chapter 3 of this document.

Chapter Summary

1. Chapter 1 seeks views on the key outcomes that underpin this Scoping Consultation.

2. Chapter 2 outlines and seeks views on the proposed scope of the Standard, and contains details on how this may be achieved in practice for new buildings.

3. Chapter 3 seeks to gather views on what the key challenges and opportunities are to implementing this Standard, and what can be done to either mitigate or grasp these.

Heat Decarbonisation Pathway

The following chart (overleaf) shows the key milestones and targets set by the Scottish Government in the journey to net zero in 2045, alongside parallel workstreams at a UK-level.

Heat Decarbonisation Pathway


12% reduction in annual energy consumption

Building Energy Review

100% of scotland's


Closure of Domestic RHI Scheme



Introduction Scottish New Build Standard

Introduction of BEIS Future Homes Standard



Significant % of all buildings using zero emissions heating

75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions


Phase out of new petrol and diesel cars and vans


<5% of households in fuel poverty

90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

Virtually all buildings using renewable/ zero emissions heating


All buildings using renewable/ zero emissions heating

Net zero greenhouse gas emissions



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