As part of their drive to reach net zero by 2045 the Scottish Government will require both domestic and non-domestic buildings to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The Scottish Government propose introducing a Heat in Buildings Bill (the "Bill") in order to achieve this reduction and has launched a consultation on the Bill (the "Consultation") which can be accessed here. Views are sought on various aspects of the Scottish Government's proposals and the Consultation is open until 8 March 2024 for those that wish to respond.

The Heat in Buildings Standard

It is proposed that the Bill will include the power to create a new Heat in Buildings Standard which will prohibit the use of polluting heating from 2045. This will mean that Direct Emission Heating Systems (DEHS) will no longer be able to be used as the main heating system in buildings and as a source of heat or hot water in domestic and non-domestic premises. DEHS are heating systems producing direct greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. gas, oil, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) boilers or burners and bioenergy systems).

In addition, for residential properties, there will be a requirement that owner occupied homes meet a minimum energy efficiency standard before the end of 2033 and private rented properties meet this before the end of 2028. The standard to be reached is not set out in the Consultation but, rather, it lists a number of measures which if carried out would mean that the property would be considered to have reached a good level of energy efficiency. The measures listed in the Consultation are: the installation of 270mm loft insulation; cavity wall insulation; draught-proofing; heating controls; 80mm hot water cylinder insulation; and suspended floor insulation. However, it is clear that this is an initial list on which views are welcomed and more detailed consultation is intended to be undertaken prior to setting a minimum standard. There is also a proposal that as an alternative that the standard could be met based on the result of an EPC assessment.

A degree of flexibility is proposed; for example, those already using bioenergy to meet the clean heat requirement will be given extra time in the period to 2045 to meet the requirement of clean heating and those without available clean heating solutions, for example in some rural areas, will have extra time until cleaner alternative fuel or technology options become available.

Triggers for implementation

For owner occupied properties sale is proposed as a trigger for compliance with the requirement for having a non DEHS heating system with purchasers having a period of say 2 – 5 years to instal a non DEHS system following their purchase. It is expected that all properties will be compliant by 2033 and that, if not, this will be reflected in the sale price.

For rented properties they must comply before the end of 2028.

The Consultation also refers to the possibility of introducing a 'cost-cap', a cap based on internal area, a purchase price-based cap or some other form of cap on the cost of complying with the provisions for non DEHS heating and energy efficiency measures.

Scottish Ministers will be able to prohibit the use of DEHS in other circumstances to future-proof the Bill.

Heat Networks

Heat networks are large systems of insulated pipes and heat generation supplying heat (hot water or steam) to one or more buildings. Councils are to identify areas suitable for heat networks ("Heat Network Zones").

It is proposed that Scottish Ministers and Local Authorities (LAs) are given the power to notify buildings in Heat Network Zones that they must stop using DEHS and require developers to connect new buildings in Heat Network Zones to a network. Existing buildings will not have to meet the Heat in Buildings Standard if they are connected to a heat network or choose another clean heating system.

Monitoring and Enforcement

Either the Scottish Government or LAs will be the monitoring and enforcement body for new laws introduced by the Bill. Individuals may be asked to submit an EPC and/or a percentage of buildings may be randomly sampled; it is understood that physical inspection of buildings will not be undertaken.

Private landlords failing to meet the minimum energy efficiency standard after 2028 will face civil penalties.

The Scottish Government are also considering what other options might be available to it to ensure compliance including exploring whether it could be a condition of lending / insurance that properties comply with the relevant requirements.

Again, there will be some flexibility in the enforcement of these new laws, with exemptions, extra time and/or a modified version of the standard put forward as proposals.


Clare Dunlop

Senior Associate