(Keeping the)Heat in Buildings

Scottish Government policy is to do energy efficiency first

The second chapter of the Heat in Buildings Strategy, titled “A 2045 Pathway for Scotland’s Homes and Buildings” sets out “the trajectory we must take to meet our net zero ambitions“. The Scottish Government makes it clear they are taking a “fabric first” approach to decarbonising emissions from buildings. Here is an extract from page 15.

Improving the energy performance of buildings is essential to unlock the rollout of zero emissions heating. Energy efficiency measures alone will not reduce emissions enough to meet our emission reduction targets, but they are a critical precursor to deployment of many zero emissions systems and are vital to supporting households and businesses to reduce their energy costs today. Energy efficiency remains at the core of our heat in buildings policies and programmes, and a fabric first approach continues to be the mainstay of all our fuel poverty interventions.

A “fabric first” approach makes sense. 

Here is Dr Peter Rickaby talking about why fabric-first is so important (link and transcript below). Dr Rickaby is the technical author of PAS2035, the energy efficiency retrofit standard for housing; he is also chair of the BSI Retrofit Standards Task Group.


I have a colleague from UCL who has done the calcs…. if we electrify all the heat… and we need to get that electricity to the dwellings as renewable electricity, as zero carbon electricity of course, we would need something approaching thirty times as much wind power connected to the national electricity grid as we have now. So after years of investment building huge amounts of wind farms, we’d have to go thirty times as many over the next twenty years, which is not really believable, I think.

If, however, we were to use heat pumps with a coefficient of power on average of, say, two and a half, then we could take that figure of thirty down to twelve. And twelve times as much renewable power as we currently have on the grid is, still challenging, but a little bit more believable.

And then if we were to do the retrofit of all the homes, and the other buildings, so as to reduce demand by maybe 60%, simply by insulating, we could take that down to a factor of four .

And I think multiplying the amount of offshore wind we’ve got, as an example, by a factor of four over the next twenty years is probably perfectly feasible, with the right political will and the right level of investment. But of course it is not all offshore wind, it is the equivalent… we basically need to get four times as much renewable or low carbon energy on the grid as we have now.’