Zero Emission Social Housing Taskforce minutes: 15 April 2021

Minutes of the 15 April 2021 meeting of the Zero Emission Social Housing Taskforce

Attendees and apologies

  • Sally Thomas – CEO, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA)
  • Aubrey Fawcett – Chief Executive, Inverclyde Council and SOLACE
  • David Bookbinder – Glasgow & West of Scotland Forum for Housing Associations (GWSF)
  • Laura Caven – Cosla
  • Michael Cameron – Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR)
  • Tony Cain – ALACHO
  • Ross Anderson – ALACHO
  • Duncan Smith – Renfrewshire Council
  • Mark McArthur – Energy Saving Trust (EST)
  • Craig Spence – Orkney HA
  • Bryan Leask - Hjaltland HA and Rural and Islands Housing Association Forum
  • Paul Leask - Hjaltland HA and Rural and Islands Housing Association Forum
  • Jon Turner – Link HA
  • Patrick McGrath – Southside HA
  • Chris Morgan – John Gilbert Architects
  • Barbara Lantschner – John Gilbert Architects
  • Casandra Dove – SFHA
  • Stephen Kemp – Orkney Builders
  • Colin Reid – Wheatley Group
  • Sean Smith – Edinburgh University
  • Stacey Dingwall – SFHA
  • Ragne Low – Scottish Government
  • Roddy Hamilton – Changeworks
  • Paul Thom – Changeworks
  • Bruce Cuthbertson – Tenant Representation

SG Secretariat

  • Catriona MacKean – Scottish Government
  • Simon Roberts – Scottish Government
  • Tony Cruickshank – Scottish Government
  • Josh Kumar – Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The co-chairs thanked members for agreeing to be a part of this group. Individual introductions were made with background being provided by each group member.

Background and context

  • Outline of the aim of ZEST. An independent short-life working group convened between April and June 2021, which will look to provide recommendations from the perspective of the social housing sector to the incoming administration after the parliamentary elections.
  • Members were invited as strategic leaders or practitioners who are actively involved in delivering zero carbon initiatives in social housing to provide practical recommendations on what is required to achieve the Scottish Government’s climate change targets. 
  • Four framing questions have been set to guide the group and we will aim to address them in the final report
  • Emphasised the importance of reducing fuel poverty in social housing.
  • All meeting papers and notes of meetings  will be published on the Scottish Government website after the Scottish Parliament elections have concluded

Terms of Reference (ToR)

  • The ToR contains the key delivery points and highlighting that there could be an additional phase required to undertake question 4 after June
  • Highlighted that ZEST was looking at the existing stock of social housing sector with the aim of identifying how housing is decarbonised in a fair and equitable manner whilst ensuring that fuel poverty ambitions are also achieved
  • Although primarily focused on social housing, eventually all hosing tenures would be covered in the future
  • It was highlighted that the 4 questions contained within the ToR was the starting point and the group has the options to further expand its ambitions.
  • island and rural housing issues could be more prominently featured in the ToR.
  • The need for early work on the technical solutions that could be most appropriate and could be taken forward by a separate technical sub-group to address technical fabric solutions
  • Outlined that the report and recommendations will be independent from Scottish Ministers and opportunities to involve others on a case by case basis
  • Confirmed that islands impacts assessments would be part of policy development by the Scottish Government on the basis of our report

Existing information, resources and related groups/meetings

Current pilots in housing sector aimed at decarbonisation

    • Short presentation and discussion of 2 projects, Edinburgh Home Demonstrator and the Decarbonisation Fund – both examples of collaboration between government, landlords, suppliers and communities.
    • The examples  show potential for large scale projects, but the issue of funding was raised as the costs for these types of projects are usually high
    • Members highlighted other projects and offered to provide case studies

Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing

    • Short presentation and discussion of EESSH2 covering the target, projected costs, and the intention to bring forward the  review of EESSH to 2023
    • Highlighted that the ZEST report will be an important factor in thinking about how EESSH2 needs to change to align with wider net zero requirements, and  how this wider agenda impacts the exemptions, flexibilities and scope for discretion for landlords that are in EESSH2

Climate Change Plan Update and Draft Heat in Buildings Strategy

    • Short presentation and discussion of the draft Heat & Building strategy and Housing to 2040
    • Highlighted benefits of early focus on fabric efficiency rather than decarbonised heating systems and that this is important if we want to address fuel poverty at the same time.
    • Highlighted the need to work with energy retailers on tariffs and tariff flexibility
    • Highlighted the need to work with network companies also and issue of place and planning
    • We need to consider the gap between modelled and actual performance of measures to reduce carbon emissions
    • The issue of energy networks and investment deliverability was raised
    • The issue of rural and island communities vulnerability was mentioned
    • The issue of ensuring that most vulnerable do not bear brunt of any costs
    • Proposed subgroups to look at issues around technical solutions (what is possible) and around affordability

Key priorities of the group

Draft Work plan

  • Finance for the work needed to decarbonise social housing is a significant challenge for landlords, with the likelihood that tenants may need to contribute part of the cost, offsetting the benefits of efficiency to them, and there is a need for clarity around what other sources of funding are available.
  • Proposed that the different elements in the workplan need to be concurrent, in particular we should not put off technical solutions until the end.
  • Noted that RSLs need to plan for investment over the longer term and at the moment it is difficult to make long term decisions about what solutions we should be looking at.
  • The ambitious timescales for delivery of the ZEST tasks was raised – the aim is to report to the incoming administration, but that may not leave time to fully consider everything as much as we would like.

Next Steps


  • Practical issues, mapping information and gather information for coherence
  • Workplan to be revised
  • Creation of technical sub-group and meeting invitation to be issued to relevant members
  • Potential creation of other sub-groups, finance in particular. If no sub-group created, then members appointed to undertake work/research
  • Capturing of all chat out with group discussion (attached separately to meeting note)
  • Members to prepare examples of relevant case studies
  • ToR to be amended to include changes agreed in meeting


No other issues were raised

Date of next meeting


29 April 2021 at 1.30pm to 2.30pm

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