The Scottish Government has designated energy efficiency as a National Infrastructure Priority. The cornerstone of delivering this is the Energy Efficiency Scotland programme. This is a 15 to 20 year programme that aims to reduce energy use and costs, and improve warmth in homes, schools, hospitals and businesses.

A series of local authority-led pilot projects are currently testing innovative approaches to delivering energy efficiency and low carbon heat across the domestic and non-domestic sectors. Together with the Energy Saving Trust, we are providing a socio-technical evaluation of the pilots to learn lessons for further roll out of the programme and to make recommendations for future energy policy. Our evaluation includes interviewing local authority officers, conducting surveys with building occupants and owners who have experienced the retrofits, and technical monitoring of energy use, internal temperature, and humidity before and after retrofit. The research team work in close cooperation with the Scottish Government, local authorities, and third sector organisations across the whole of Scotland.

Phase 1 of the Energy Efficient Scotland pilots was completed in Spring 2018; this included projects across nine local authorities and commenced in September 2016.

Read the evaluation summary findings

Red the full Phase 1 evaluation report here.

A further two project phases are currently in progress:

Phase 2 includes a further ten local authorities and started in September 2017. Alongside domestic and non-domestic building retrofits, Phase 2 incorporated the piloting of Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES). At this preliminary stage, LHEES require councils to develop area-based heat and energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation plans for a specific area over a 15-20 year period.

The Transition Phase includes an additional 17 local authorities, and commenced in September 2018. Participants in this phase are developing LHEES, along with strategies for engaging domestic and non-domestic property owners in self-funding retrofit. Our evaluation of these projects will include interviews with the delivery teams, and a large-scale survey to capture the impacts of engagement strategies.

Our early findings have been presented in a Phase 1 interim report, a Phase 1 final report, and a Phase 2 LHEES interim report. These have looked at the pilot projects' governance, management, and partnership structures.

They provide valuable lessons for the rollout of the Energy Efficient Scotland programme in particular:

  • Managing the coordination of area-based retrofit, even on a small scale, requires significant local authority staff time and new cross-council teams;
  • It is important to evaluate the success of pilots of this nature. However, data collection requirements for both the technical and social aspects of the evaluation, as well as financial investment in technical monitoring equipment, was challenging for councils.
  • Councils use varied approaches to project delivery. Some used in-house resources for project planning and delivery; others appointed external contractors to carry out these tasks. Further work is needed to compare costs and benefits of in-house management and outsourcing.
  • Development of comprehensive Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES) needs to combine distinctively local elements, to address specific contexts, with opportunities to pool energy planning expertise across Scotland, for access by all local authorities. Standardised ‘best practice’ methodologies are needed to support consistency in planning across the country, and to manage uncertainty in data and methodologies.
  • Local authorities highlighted the need for extensive, coordinated public engagement to establish understanding and acceptance of low carbon heating technologies and energy efficiency measures. This engagement must extend across the commercial, industrial, third, and public sectors.