Scottish Government encouraged to ‘hold its nerve’ over Passivhaus policy

THE Passivhaus Trust is calling on the Scottish Government to ‘hold its nerve’ and continue with its previously announced plans to introduce a Scottish Passivhaus equivalent policy.

Project Scotland reported last week that housebuilding trade body Homes for Scotland has urged the Government to ‘pause and review the viability’ of net zero legislation, in response to the nation’s housing crisis and following the announcement that Scotland can no longer fulfil its commitment of a 75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The Passivhaus Trust contends that improving energy efficiency standards will not adversely affect Scotland’s housing shortage, pointing out that ‘higher standards were not found to be a constraint on housing supply in two recent UK Government studies’.

At the same time, the Trust said it acknowledges the difficulties currently being experienced within the Scottish construction industry, which is why it is calling for a transition period for the policy implementation to allow the industry to prepare and upskill.

While the Passivhaus Trust added that it is ‘disappointed’ by the Scottish Government’s decision to drop its 2030 climate targets, it argues this is no reason to jettison its Passivhaus policy. The Trust pointed out that a Passivhaus equivalent would ‘deliver more than reduced carbon emissions’, tackling the cost-of-living crisis, reducing spending on expanding the grid infrastructure, and saving the NHS money.

The organisation estimates the additional costs of building to Passivhaus are 4-8%, which it claimed can come down further with economies of scale and familiarity.

Sarah Lewis, research and policy director at the Passivhaus Trust, said, “Drawing on the leading international low energy building standard, complete with design tools, skills training, qualifications, and a rapidly growing supply chain, offers the perfect clear and coordinated delivery route map.  It is hard to think of another solution that has been more robustly tested. In our view, setting this as the ultimate goal, with a suitable transition period, should offer the perfect route map for housebuilders to work towards.”

Jon Bootland, CEO of the Passivhaus Trust, added, “In developing the Scottish Passivhaus equivalent policy the Scottish Government has shown global leadership. We urge the Scottish Government to hold its nerve and not abandon this ground-breaking policy. A Scottish Passivhaus equivalent would deliver so many benefits to the people of Scotland in terms of radically reduced energy bills, improved health outcomes, and improved grid capacity through reduced peak demand.

“We understand that it is challenging for housebuilders to change their practices but would argue that Passivhaus is not the big leap they might be imagining. We have seen the Scottish construction sector rise to the challenge of building to Passivhaus in the schools sector – with 35 Passivhaus schools currently underway in Scotland. We would urge Homes for Scotland members to work with us to develop solutions. We have identified key recommendations for how the policy could be implemented in Scotland and have emphasised the need for a transition period to allow the industry to upskill and prepare.”