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New energy targets for Scotland buildings

04 Oct 2021


With all the recent coverage about changing energy performance targets for new buildings in England and Wales, it wasn’t going to be long before the Scottish Government followed suit.

Developers north of the border can now have their say on the next wave of energy efficiency updates to building regulations by responding to a public consultation. The proposals include tougher emissions targets, updates to ventilation requirements and completely new chapters for tackling overheating in our homes and providing electric car charging points.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that Scotland is following in the footsteps of England and Wales – it’s the other way around… Scotland leads the way in setting the strictest emission targets in the UK. Now that other regions are moving their goalposts to be more aligned with Scotland, they are in turn moving Section 6 even closer to (but not all the way to) zero carbon.

The consultation is open under the 15th October. Details are available on the Scottish Government website:

What is being proposed?

For newly built houses, an additional mandatory target is proposed based on energy use. This will work alongside the Target Emission Rate. The Target Primary Energy Rate (TPER) isn’t a new concept – Wales has been using it for non-domestic buildings since 2014, and both England and Wales will be introducing it to residential developments next year. But it’s not clear yet whether Scotland will use the same Primary Energy formula (which includes energy used to extract/ generate/ transport the fuel to the building) or use a Delivered Energy target (onsite energy use only) instead.

As you may expect, an uplift to the current Section 6 targets is a given. There are two options being considered in the consultation. One option suggests making the SAP target tougher by 32%, and a second option pushes even further – a 57% reduction compared to current targets.

For non-domestic buildings, the options being suggested include an uplift to SBEM targets by 16% or 25% compared to the current levels. An energy target will also be introduced similar to SAP.

The maximum allowable U-Values are also changing. The final targets are still to be confirmed, but the strictest option suggests external walls must be no higher than 0.16, and windows no higher than 1.20 – that could lead to triple glazed windows being installed as standard in all new buildings.

Also, get ready for more air testing. Section 6 currently requires 5% of new-build homes to be air tested. The proposal is to jump straight up to 100%. As in other regions, pulse testing is also being considered as an alternative method to checking the air permeability of buildings.

Achieving compliance with fossil fuel boilers is going to become very tough indeed. Changes are being made to the notional models which are how SAP and SBEM calculate the Target Emission Rates. This will particularly discourage the use of oil and LPG boilers, and encourage the use of heat pumps.

Aside from SAP and SBEM performance, the consultation also proposes introducing an overheating analysis check which will could require the use of tinted glass in heavily glazed rooms. This is a different proposal to England and Wales where a whole house glazing ratio is calculated instead of looking at individual rooms.

It’s also proposed that any residential dwelling with its own parking space should have an electric vehicle charging socket as standard, and car parks for flats and non-residential developments should be constructed with ducting infrastructure ready so future occupants can easily install car charging points.

Developers in Scotland are encouraged to read through and comment on these proposals before the October deadline passes.

The new targets and requirements for new developments could be brought into effect as early as the end of next year.

We’ll publish future articles over the next 12 months as the Scottish government works on finalising the proposed changes to the Technical Handbooks.

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Jon Ponting

Energy & Sustainability Specialist


Jon Ponting

Energy & Sustainability Specialist
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