Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategy (LHEES) pilot programme: synthesis evaluation

This report presents findings from a synthesis evaluation of Scotland’s Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategy (LHEES) pilot programme, which involved pilot projects delivered by all 32 Scottish local authorities.

LHEES Pilot Programme Evaluation: Key Findings

This report presents findings from a synthesis evaluation of Scotland’s Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategy (LHEES) pilot programme, which involved pilot projects delivered by all 32 Scottish local authorities. LHEES will set out long-term plans for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation for all buildings in each local authority area, and will be crucial in delivery of national emissions reduction and fuel poverty targets.

The pilot programme involved three distinct phases, each testing the LHEES development process and considering data sourcing and resource requirements. There has been some variation in the profile of LHEES across the 3 phases, with phase 2 focused on specific building sectors and phase 3 on areas of high heat demand or off-gas grid. The synthesis evaluation sought to bring together findings from across all three phases, and to identify learning points for the future rollout of LHEES.

How have pilots benefitted local authorities?

The pilot programme has generated a range of benefits and positive outcomes for participating local authorities.

Data & understanding

Local authorities improved their data skills and understanding of decarbonisation through the pilots

Strategic priority

Undertaking pilots has raised the strategic priority of decarbonisation within local authorities

Support & collaboration

External support & stakeholder collaboration have been essential for LHEES, and in realising benefits

Funding & guidance

Scottish Government funding and guidance have also been crucial in realising benefits for authorities

What challenges have affected LHEES development?

LHEES pilots have been impacted by a number of challenges and issues, arising across all aspects of LHEES development.

Buy-in, skills & resourcing

Securing the required skills and resources has been a key challenge, in part dependent on buy-in from senior officers and elected officials

Data sourcing & analysis

Many pilots found the wide range of data sources and analysis skills required to produce LHEES a significant challenge

Stakeholder engagement

Local authorities were concerned about the resources required for effective stakeholder engagement, and some were unclear about the role of stakeholders

Delivery planning

Data access challenges limited scope for options appraisal and delivery planning through pilot LHEES

What does this mean for LHEES rollout?

A key focus for the evaluation was to identify learning points to inform subsequent rollout of LHEES. The recommendations summarised below draw on the challenges impacting pilots, and the factors contributing to successful development of pilot LHEES.

Legislation & regulation

Making LHEES a statutory duty was seen as necessary to secure the support and resources required for effective delivery of LHEES. LHEES rollout is also likely to require implementation or strengthening of a range of policies and regulations.

Recommendation: Establishing LHEES on a statutory basis, and providing stronger regulation around heat decarbonisation to incentivise stakeholders.

Guidance & support

Local authorities’ experience indicated a need for additional guidance and support for LHEES rollout. This should be focused on data access and skills to ensure equal access to required evidence, stakeholder engagement skills and secure local buy-in.

Recommendation: Scottish Government to provide additional LHEES guidance and support, particularly around data and stakeholder engagement.


LHEES rollout will require a significant increase in resourcing to support the additional data collation, data analysis and stakeholder engagement required, and may require a dedicated role within each local authority.

Recommendation: Provide additional resourcing for local authorities for LHEES rollout – including implementation of LHEES Delivery Plans.

External support

Experience across the pilot programme indicates that external consultants will be key to supporting rollout of LHEES, as development and delivery of authority-wide LHEES increases the demands on local authorities.

Recommendation: Support local authorities to access and make best use of external consultants and other support.

Strategic positioning & buy-in

Ensuring sufficient strategic priority for LHEES and effective integration with local authority strategies and plans will be vital for LHEES rollout. There is a need for more work to ensure this is in place across all local authorities.

Recommendation: Ensure LHEES is given sufficient strategic priority, and is effectively integrated with wider local authority strategies and plans.

The context to LHEES has continued to develop since the pilot programme, including refinement of the LHEES methodology and work to improve the evidence base. The recently published Heat in Buildings Strategy sets out the role and structure of LHEES in more detail and will be crucial in shaping the approach to the rollout of LHEES.


Email: LHEES@gov.scot

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