Non-domestic buildings - heating systems: research report

Research we commissioned from Locogen to provide a set of case studies on the installation of zero direct emissions heating systems in both new and existing non-domestic buildings. Provides key insights on the challenges and opportunities in decarbonising these buildings.

Executive summary

  • The Scottish non-domestic building stock comprises over 220,000 buildings, but there is currently a lack of publicly available data to reliably characterise these, particularly with respect to heating systems.
  • To explore issues around developing and operating Zero Direct Emissions Heating (ZDEH) systems, stakeholders in non-domestic Scottish buildings with successful ZDEH installations were interviewed and 20 case studies produced.
  • Through the process of identifying the case studies, a longlist of over 140 existing or proposed buildings with ZDEH were identified (with thousands more listed in EPC registers), across a broad range of scales, organisations and locations in Scotland.
  • Capital costs, site constraints, and soft factors were the main barriers impacting ZDEH across the case studies. However, given the inherent bias to the case studies being successful examples of ZDEH installations, other barriers to ZDEH adoption are likely.
  • Most case studies cited grant funding and/or incentives as drivers to enable the ZDEH installation. National, local and internal policy, specifically regarding the climate crisis, and desires for positive end-user impacts were other strong drivers.
  • Stakeholder experiences of drivers and barriers for adopting ZDEH in their buildings, varied across different types of buildings, tenure, organisations, and locations.
  • Snagging was a common issue, although very few experienced major and unexpected maintenance requirements. Dissatisfaction with heat control was noted by sites with manually operated direct electric heating systems, but most case studies did not report issues with running costs.
  • There was a lack of real running cost data available from case studies due to a lack of submetering and limited timescales of this research. This resulted in limited numerical evidence to support the qualitative findings regarding ZDEH running costs.



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