This CXC workshop reviewed Phases 1 and 2 of the Energy Efficient Scotland pilot projects.
Energy Efficient Scotland is the Scottish Government’s flagship programme for improving energy efficiency and decarbonising heat in the built environment, as a significant contribution to climate change mitigation. The pilot projects, led by a subset of Local Authorities, are testing models for managing the upgrade of the existing building stock. Workshop participants included representatives from Scottish Government, Local Authorities, delivery partner organisations, the University of Edinburgh and the Energy Saving Trust. Discussion was structured around presentations from local authorities and delivery partners managing both phase 1 and 2 pilot projects, and presentation of findings from the social and technical evaluations of the Phase 1 pilots.
After a welcome from the University of Edinburgh and Scottish Government, the morning session focussed on the Phase 1 pilots. Paul D’Arcy from Fife Resource Efficient Solutions discussed the case of Dunfermline business centre. Through the pilot, the business centre – an ex-maternity hospital built in 1937 – had electric storage heaters replaced with a ‘wet’ Low Temperature Hot Water heating system; an extension to the biomass boiler system and an LED lighting upgrade. For the success of this type of retrofit, Paul highlighted the importance of managing uncertainty amongst small and medium enterprises, and emphasised the need to present a compelling economic argument for this group to undertake energy efficient retrofitting. Debbie Gardiner from Glasgow City Council then discussed two buildings from the Glasgow pilot: a tenement primarily owned by Yoker Housing Association, and the Greater Easter House Supporting Hands (GESH) community facility. The Yoker case provided an example of the challenges of retrofitting a mixed-use and multi-ownership pre-1919 tenement. External and internal wall insulation and remedial repair works were planned. The smallnumber of owners of flats and shops were asked to contribute to the costs of the works; however, delays with the confirmation of funding and complex problems with title deeds meant that there was only two months for owners to decide and to provide the finance. Many were unable to do this and the project did not go ahead; in response, Debbie emphasised the need for multi-year funding and longer timeframes for projects of this type. The GESH community facility, which received external wall insulation, also revealed unexpected challenges. In this case, ownership of the building had been previously transferred to City Buildings, a council Arms Length Management Organisation, but they had not been consulted in advance about the plans, resulting in some delay in agreement to proceed. Unexpected additional testing on the wall materials following the Grenfell tower fire also led to delays. Following an agreed extension from Scottish Government, the project was successfully completed.
Jan Webb and Faye Wade from the University of Edinburgh presented the findings from the social evaluation of the Phase 1 pilots. Interviews with Local Authorities at the beginning and end of the projects reinforced the necessity for longer timeframes in order to deliver more ambitious and larger area-based retrofit programmes, and emphasised the need for unified up-to-date databases on the building stock to support project planning and budgeting. In addition, the findings highlighted the need to consider alternative funding models to support private owners and small businesses who may lack access to capital to proceed with retrofit in advance of loans. Procurement frameworks and funding timescales may also need adjustment to ensure that smaller contractors are not precluded from participating. James Wakelin from the Energy Saving Trust presented findings from the technical evaluation of the retrofit pilots. The evaluation included monitoring gas and electricity consumption, temperature, and humidity in the pilot buildings before and after retrofit. James emphasised that the outcomes of retrofit are site-specific and that, although the ability of buildings to retain heat improved after retrofit, this did not always translate into energy savings. This highlighted the need to consider the practices of building occupants, and on-going advice about use of heating controls, as a critical part of the retrofitting process.
These presentations provoked questions and food for thought leading into the first discussion session, which asked:
What are the key lessons learned for local authorities and partners through the pilots? The lessons discussed included:
- A need to build in more time for projects: those involved in the pilots had underestimated how long the work would take to deliver, particularly in the planning and engagement stages early on.
- Councils and their delivery partners need notice of funding a long time in advance. Some businesses found it impossible to bid for contracts because of the difficulties in planning finances and managing labour recruitment at short notice. This may favour the bigger contractors.
- There are different financial models in place for Energy Efficient Scotland in different councils. Are there ways to collate and share this data and learn from it?
- Clear and consistent data on energy performance of buildings is required. It was noted that EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) data depends on who is doing the assessments, and their interpretation of building type. The role of accurate data was also highlighted for prioritising fuel poor households, for example.
What are the challenges in resourcing a national retrofit programme? Some of the key challenges discussed were:
- There is a need to align goals, resources, timescales etc across SG, LAs, partners and delivery agencies. How can this be done most effectively?
- How do we develop standardised plans for what are currently non-standard projects? For example, delivering External Wall Insulation for area based schemes is much more standardised than implementing a new district heating scheme.
After lunch, we received updates from three pilot projects running in Phase 2. Donna Marshall from Changeworks discussed the Change Works in Peebles hub that is running in collaboration with Scottish Borders Council. The hub is operating out of a dis-used shop in Peebles high street and acts as a drop-in centre that people can visit in order to receive advice about energy efficiency and referrals for additional support. Donna highlighted the success of the scheme in building an energy ‘presence’ in the town, but also highlighted initial scepticism of the hub and residents’ concerns about data protection; she emphasised that it takes time to build trust in the community. Yann Grandgirard from Edinburgh World Heritage introduced the retrofit works taking place on the Sir Basil Spence development, in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council. Yann noted the challenges in aligning conservation targets with energy efficiency improvements in this Grade B listed building. Like the Yoker case in Glasgow, there were difficulties in getting agreement from all of the different building occupants (which include private owners, renters, social housing and small businesses) for the works to proceed. This led to the suggestion that new legal tools are required to overcome retrofit challenges. Finally, Adekoyejo Olugbile from Falkirk Council discussed the district heat network extension taking place in Callendar Park. He emphasised the need for upskilling within councils in order to tackle cases where it can be difficult to identify, and retain, people with the experience, skills and knowledge that span the diversity and complexity of such projects.
These varied cases were each considered in the second discussion session, which asked:
Where are the critical capacity building requirements? For local authorities? Delivery partners? Scottish Government? Some of the issues discussed were:
- Different local authorities have different priorities and different challenges, and queried how we best build capacity in all councils. One participant queried whether, to address skills gaps, the Scottish Government might convene a panel or pool of experts that all local authorities could draw upon.
- Uncertainty and decrease in Local Authority budgets result in staff turnover and damage to Energy Efficiency projects because of loss of experienced and skilled officers. Engagement of senior management in local authorities is critical to ensure that responsibilities and resource needs are clearly understood.
- Skills gaps amongst the supply chain and contractors. Would it be possible to develop a shared project management service that might help prospective contractors, including small businesses, to manage the interface with, and reporting to, Local Authorities? Or would this be counter-productive?
What is the best division of responsibility between national and local levels? Here the discussions included:
- National strategy is required to drive the Energy Efficient Scotland programme but local government is required for local expertise and knowledge. Dialogue between local and national has generally been good (5 years of dialogue via HEEPS) but when local and national priorities conflict, authorities are pushed to prioritise local issues.
- How will area of need for shared resources between authorities be defined and agreed? Need local knowledge, but replication of projects is much easier and more efficient if some information and services are provided on a national level.
- Scottish Government might be best positioned as enablers, rather than imposing delivery plans, but this can sometimes sit at odds with a drive to meet national targets and manage costs.
The day ended with a cross-sector panel discussion including: Lynn Forsyth from Scottish Government; James Wakelin from the Energy Saving Trust; Robin Millard from Falkirk Council; Ruth Sutherland from the Energy Agency. The session considered some of the key implications as the Energy Efficient Scotland programme moves into its Transition Phase. In this phase a further series of projects will be piloted, with a shifting focus towards engaging those who might self-fund retrofit.
Date: 11th October 2018
Time: 09:30 – 16:00
Venue: The Melting Pot Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh