Scotland mandates the Passivhaus standard for all new homes

Alex Rowley MSP (with the red-handled spade)

The Scottish Government has said it will create subordinate legislation within two years, to introduce new minimum environmental design standards for all new-build homes to meet a Scottish equivalent of the Passivhaus standard, to improve energy efficiency and thermal performance.

The political commitment from the Nationalist government is being claimed as a personal triumph by Alex Rowley, Labor MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, who had brought forward private legislation to mandate Passivhaus or similar for new homes.

Rowley’s Domestic Built Environment Standards (Scotland) Bill was drafted in response to the Scottish Climate Assembly’s recommendations for action, where 97% of the assembly voted in favor of the Passivhaus standard or its Scottish equivalent for new build projects in Scotland.

In a letter to Rowley, Scotland’s Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Patrick Harvie confirmed that the Scottish Government would implement the standards within two years through secondary legislation – without the lengthy process of a member’s bill going through the Holyrood legislative process.

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This development work will start in early 2023, and seek to introduce amending regulations in mid-December 2024, he said.

A spokesperson for the Passivhaus Trust said: “It is fantastic to hear that the Scottish Government has committed to bringing forward a bill requiring higher energy efficiency standards in residential buildings, which also recognizes the need to reassure residents that the design and construction of these buildings will deliver the actual performance sought in practice.

“Statements including ‘a Scottish equivalent to the Passivhaus standard’ and ‘explicit support for Passivhaus and equivalent standards’ fill us with hope. As well as providing energy security and reduced heating bills, an improved Scottish Building Standard offers a chance to also improve residents’ comfort and indoor air quality.

“It is a truly forward-looking approach from the Scottish Government and a positive response to the recommendations of the 2021 Scottish Climate Assembly. They are to be applauded for taking this crucial step towards achieving their net zero/climate emergency targets. Now we must ensure that the Bill is well designed and implemented to have the greatest impact on the actual performance of new homes in Scotland.”

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