Blog: Meeting the 2020 Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing is going to require a major push over the next two years

Stephen Herriot

By Stephen Herriot, head of operations at PfH Scotland

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on a future strategy to further improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s social housing stock beyond 2020. So it’s perhaps an appropriate moment to reflect on the progress that’s been made towards meeting the 2020 energy efficiency standard for the sector that was first launched back in 2014.

The minimum energy efficiency ratings that all social housing in Scotland is required to meet by 2020 vary according to heating source and type of dwelling. But overall, these ratings straddle Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Bands D and C. In simple terms, this means that all social housing in Scotland must, as a minimum, meet EPC Band D – although, depending on individual dwelling type and heating source, some categories of housing will have to meet EPC Band C in order to achieve the standard.

When the 2020 EESSH target was launched in 2014, there were 66,000 units of social housing in Scotland rated below EPC Band D. This fell to 58,000 units in 2015 and fell further to 47,000 in 2016. On this basis, the industry has made a solid start in seeking to meet the 2020 target over the initial period since its launch. Nonetheless, projecting forwards, there will need to have been a significant acceleration in activity if the target is actually going to be achieved in less than two years’ time.

In its latest consultation, the Scottish Government sets out a future roadmap that would aim to maximise attainment of EPC Band B in Scotland’s social housing stock by 2032 and envisages that all social housing should, “as far as reasonably practical”, be carbon neutral by 2040. Considering that, in 2016, just 15,000 units or 2% of Scotland’s social housing stock actually met EPC Band B or better, there will be much more work to be done over the next two decades to meet those longer term goals, even if the 2020 Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing is achieved.

It was in recognition of these challenging expectations, both short and long term, that PfH Scotland last year launched a specialist procurement framework designed to help Scottish landlords meet their obligations under the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing. Expected to generate contract work with a cumulative value of around £600 million over the next four years, the framework has already started to deliver £18 million in energy efficiency works. We expect this activity to gather pace as the 2020 deadline for EESSH compliance draws ever closer.

With many thousands of units of Scotland’s social housing stock yet to meet the standard, there is certainly no room for complacency. All registered social landlords have a responsibility to scrutinise closely their own plans to ensure they are doing what’s necessary for the 2020 target to be met – and, longer term, to set themselves on a suitable path that will enable the long term vision of a carbon neutral social housing stock in Scotland to be realised.

Full details of the Scottish Government’s consultation on EESSH2 are available here.

Further information about PfH Scotland’s heating services procurement framework can be accessed here.

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