How will Scotland meet its net zero buildings target?

Buildings account for roughly a fifth of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions, so the newly published Heat in Buildings strategy is a key part of the country’s overall net zero strategy. But how exactly does Scotland plan to meet its target of net zero buildings emissions by 2045?

Key dates for Scotland’s buildings strategy


April 2021
  • A new phase of the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) has begun, focusing on supporting local decarbonisation projects.
By end 2021
  • Fuel Poverty Strategy published.
  • A raft of consultations on issues such as public sector decarbonisation targets, a new heat standard and the regulatory approach to non-domestic buildings.
From 2023
  • The introduction of minimum energy efficiency standards for owner-occupied private housing.
By 2025
  • The new National Public Energy Agency will be up and running as a body dedicated to coordinating the rollout of the heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency plan.
From 2025
  • A new requirement for buildings off the gas grid to meet the new heat standard (to be phased in gradually)
  • Warmer Homes Scotland due to end and be replaced with a new scheme that has a zero-emissions-first approach.
By 2030
  • 50,000 non-domestic buildings to have been converted to zero-emissions heating.
  • A 75% reduction in emissions from buildings.
From 2030
  • Requirement to meet the new heat standard begins to be phased in for buildings that are on the gas grid.
By end 2032
  • All social housing to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of B or above.
By 2033
  • All homes in Scotland to meet the equivalent of EPC C or above.
By 2038
  • All publicly owned buildings to meet net zero emission heating requirements.
By 2040
  • A 90% reduction in buildings emissions.
  • No more than 5% of households in fuel poverty.
  • All homes with occupants in fuel poverty to reach an energy efficiency rating equivalent to EPC B.
By 2045
  • Net zero for the sector. Scotland’s homes and other buildings will no longer produce any emissions.
  • All buildings must meet the new zero-emissions heat standard.


Also on the horizon is the delayed UK Heat and Buildings Strategy, which was originally due for publication in autumn 2020. The Scottish Government believes it cannot flesh out its plan for building decarbonisation until this is published.

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Government Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights told edie: “Our homes and workplaces account for around a fifth of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions. We can and must make very significant progress towards eliminating these emissions over the next decade and reduce them to zero by 2045. Transforming our homes and workplaces will be immensely challenging, requiring action from all of us, right across society and the economy.

“This Strategy sets out the significant actions we are taking, but we do not have all the powers necessary to deliver the transformational change required. The delayed UK Heat and Buildings Strategy must set out how the UK will use its regulatory and policy levers to incentivise rapid deployment of zero-emissions heat technologies.”

We will keep you updated on further policy developments.