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Updated May 9, 2022

Proposed Bill in Scotland sets out environmental design standards for houses

Scottish MSP Alex Rowley published a consultation for a Bill that aims to introduce new minimum environmental design standards for all new-build housing, which will meet the widely recognised "Passivhaus" standard or a Scottish equivalent in order to improve energy efficiency and thermal performance of buildings.

The Passivhaus term originates from the German language and it describes a voluntary standard for energy efficiency, adopting a whole-building approach with measurable targets, where buildings provide a high level of comfort while using very little energy for heating or cooling.

The proposed Bill will legislate for the introduction of Passivhaus (or equivalent) energy efficiency and thermal performance standard for all new-build housing, which aims to save energy and help Scotland deliver net-zero housing.

The construction of such buildings creates air-tight, non-draughty properties with increased amounts of insulation combined with triple-glazed doors and windows as well as eradicating cold bridging and heat loss. Those properties also have improved mechanical ventilation systems to ensure adequate air circulation.

In addition, this Bill proposal seeks to address the "performance gap" of what is expected to be achieved under the current Scottish building standards and what is actually delivered. To ensure this is achieved, it will be necessary to not only set Passivhaus or equivalent as the new standard for all new buildings, but to increase the amount of evidence to be submitted by the developer for a completion certificate as well.

In his foreword, MSP Alex Rowley said: "Energy efficiency improvements through new building standards is the only realistic way to achieve net Zero Carbon without massive renewable energy expansion coupled with a significant, and expensive, investment in grid capacity.

"In summary, a warm, dry, comfortable and affordable home is a basic human need and I would contend, human right. By legislating to ensure all new build homes in Scotland meet a Scottish equivalent to Passivhaus design standards we will make homes more affordable to heat, more comfortable to live in and more environmentally sustainable."

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