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Will EESSH2 achieve net zero in social housing?

Written by:
Louise Cowling
Posted On:
7th March 2022

In January 2022, we held an Ideas Lab with attendees from the sector in Scotland to look at progress towards EESSH2, elements of the standard, air quality, alignment with the net zero target, and how the standard fits with changes needed across other tenures.

More than 50% of all energy used in Scotland goes into heating buildings. At the same time, over 25% of Scotland’s households are living in fuel poverty, unable to afford a warm, comfortable home and more than a million homes fall below the energy efficiency level recommended for our health. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we get this right and holistically look at decarbonisation. We see several key themes interconnected with net-zero/ decarbonisation including fuel poverty, housing quality, resident engagement, and health and wellbeing.

EESSH2 will help remove poor energy efficiency as a driver for fuel poverty and contribute to achieving the Scottish Government’s ambitious climate change emissions reductions targets. It will support the Energy Efficient Scotland vision for homes and buildings that are warmer, greener, and more efficient, and a housing sector that helps to establish a successful low carbon economy across Scotland.

The EESSH2 2032 milestone requires All social housing meets, or can be treated as meeting, EPC Band B (Energy Efficiency rating), or is as energy efficient as practically possible, by the end of December 2032 and within the limits of cost, technology, and necessary consent.
In addition, no social housing below EPC Band D should be re-let from December 2025, subject to temporary specified exemptions.

The EESSH encourages landlords to improve the energy efficiency of social housing in Scotland. It was initially introduced in March 2014 and set the first milestone for social landlords to meet for social rented homes by 31 December 2020. A second milestone was confirmed in June 2019, for social rented houses to meet by December 2032 (EESSH2).

The first EESSH milestone set a single minimum Energy Efficiency rating for each home rented by social landlords. The target varied dependent upon the dwelling type and the fuel type used to heat it. In terms of the SAP 2012 methodology the target varied between a rating of 47 (in EPC band E) for an oil-heated house, and 69 (in EPC band C) for a gas-heated flat.
Social landlords were expected to ensure that they achieved the relevant minimum ratings by 31 December 2020 for all applicable social housing, subject to exemptions for some properties.

The Scottish Government proposes to review the EESSH2 in 2023, to strengthen and realign the standard with the target for net-zero heat in houses from 2040, as set out in the Climate Change Update, the Heat in Buildings Strategy, and the Housing to 2040 Route Map.

The conversation at the Ideas Lab was engaging and informative, highlighting the challenges ahead of us, with a recurring theme, that the impact of works that are undertaken as part of achieving the EESSH2 milestones, or any future milestones needs to be carefully considered. The use of new and innovative technology needs to be embraced by the sector as we look to accomplish what lies ahead of us on this journey to net- zero, but resident engagement is also a key part of this journey making sure that tenants know how this innovative technology works and how it can benefit and improve their everyday lives.

Tony Boyle, Relationship Manager, Aico

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