From December 2024, all new housing in Scotland will be built to a new energy efficiency standard, which is being compared to the Passivhaus standard. While no one knows exactly what the new Scottish standard will contain, Passivhaus is renowned for its gold standard of energy efficiency. Certified houses are built with high-quality insulation, triple glazing, insulated frames, mechanical ventilation, and airtightness levels 20 times higher than a typical UK build. The standard was developed by physicist Wolfgang Feist and engineer Bo Adamson in the 1990s, and the first certified homes appeared in Germany soon after. While the standard has been well-regarded, few certified homes exist today. Recently, however, there has been a surge of interest in Passivhaus, and there is strong public support for its implementation. In 2021, the Scottish Climate Assembly voted that all new housing should be built to such a standard or equivalent, which was followed by a proposal for a Private Member’s Bill calling for the standard’s implementation in all new domestic housing by Labour MSP, Alex Rowley. The proposal attracted support from the Scottish government, which in turn promised to introduce secondary legislation bringing the proposal into effect by the end of 2024. This will create a Scottish equivalent to the Passivhaus standard for all new-build housing, the first time a national government has implemented or endorsed such a call for climate action. The new standard has thrown up practical concerns, as the higher upfront cost of Passivhaus has long been seen as a barrier to its adoption. There are calls for the introduction of the standard to come with significant support to ensure that it is affordable. The Scottish government will be expected to show that it means business, setting aside funding to help meet these costs. The higher upfront cost of Passivhaus is offset by heating bills being cut by up to 90%. Additionally, Passivhaus aims to create healthier living environments, with improved ventilation eliminating condensation, damp, and mould. While there is concern about the UK’s ageing, draughty housings, there is also concern for new housing stocks, as heat loss from new-builds can be 50% higher than expected. Passivhaus developers, however, must prove their buildings meet the standard in order to receive certification, requiring performance assurance at its core. The Scottish government has indicated that its Passivhaus equivalent will not only raise targets but also improve performance assurance. However, designers, contractors and certifiers will need to be upskilled if the standard is to be implemented on time. With mere weeks left for the Scottish government to finalise and publish its standard, there is a risk that new houses in Scotland will be built to equivalent targets without an equivalent performance assurance process.
It is important that carbon credit schemes also benefit local communities.
The World Meteorological Organisation has stated that 193 countries have given unanimous backing to a scheme to monitor global greenhouse...