Climate change has never been higher on the agenda. With the Scottish Government's target of becoming a net-zero society by 2045 and some Councils, such as the City of Edinburgh Council targeting earlier dates (Edinburgh is looking to be a net zero city by 2030) reducing the carbon emissions produced by buildings is a key part of the strategy.

The Scottish Government has therefore issued a consultation which looks to review and make further improvements to the standards set within the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 to limit greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, both in new buildings and where work to existing buildings takes place, with the intention that most of the changes would be implemented in 2022.

The proposed changes on which views are sought apply across different parts of Section 6 of the Scottish Building Standards Technical Handbook – sometimes offering 2 choices of target and seeking views on which should apply. Some of the key proposals are:

Additional mandatory target for new homes based on energy use - either a Primary Energy target (which includes energy used to extract/ generate/ transport the fuel to the building) or Delivered Energy target (onsite energy use only)

Uplift to the 2015 standards for new homes - either "improved" (32% emissions reduction) or "advanced" (57% emissions reduction)

Changes to the maximum "u-values" for elements of building fabric e.g windows, wall, roof – again "improved" and "advanced" options. It is also proposed to have a single set of values for all building work to new and existing buildings.

100% Air tightness testing for new homes– at the moment only 5% of new homes require to be air tested.

Amendments to the notional model – the notional building specifications are being simplified – based on either a heat pump solution or an efficient gas boiler specification – this means that if higher emissions fuels are proposed then it will be more difficult to comply with the target emission rates.

Requirement to assess and mitigate summertime overheating risk this could require heavily glazed rooms to use tinted glass

Electric vehicle charging socket - All dwellings with a parking space to have at least one EV charge point socket

It will be interesting to see the responses to the consultation from the various organisations with different priorities. We anticipate that some parties will be moving for the "advanced" options whereas others may consider a more cautious approach is required and be concerned as to whether the industry has the skills required for some of these proposed requirements. There may also be concerns that this could exacerbate the issues with materials shortages, although some indications are that by 2022 those should have settled. Others will welcome the opportunity for Scotland again to push forward with its ambitious targets. The deadline for consultation responses has now been extended to 26 November 2021 so parties still have plenty of time to submit a response.

Read the full consultation here


Jane McMonagle

Partner & Head of Transactional Construction, Infrastructure and Projects

Anna Reilly

Senior Solicitor