A kick-off workshop Scottish central and local governments was held in Edinburgh in February 2017 on the development of Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme pilots evaluation. This stage of the evaluation project asks what we can learn from the first round of energy efficiency pilots, which are led by 10 local authorities across Scotland.

In 2015, Scottish politicians designated energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority, with plans to improve the standards of thermal comfort in every building in the country – commercial, public and residential – and to reduce the need for heating.

At the same time, Scotland’s climate change plans mean an end to the use of fossil fuels, including methane gas, for heating. These major innovations are commonly thought of as technical problems, with engineering solutions, but our research shows that we already have most of the technical solutions – we just aren’t using them. Hence there are big questions about the kinds of societal innovations needed for new understandings of energy supply and use, and for clean heating systems, in homes, public facilities and workplaces.

In a first small step, our workshop brought together representatives from 8 of the local authorities and their partners responsible for the energy efficiency pilot projects, as well as Energy Saving Trust and Scottish Government officials. The projects are testing innovative approaches to energy efficiency upgrades and low carbon heating for both domestic and non-domestic buildings.

The workshop was an opportunity for all participants to learn about each other’s plans, and to do some mutual problem solving, given the difficulties of managing an area-based approach to the work. Participants discussed their objectives, the demands of the monitoring actual energy use in buildings, the issues of persuading building owners to sign up, how to use a social survey to assess people’s responses to the work, and next steps towards completing the project.

From 2018, SEEP will be the ‘cornerstone’ of Scottish Government policy for reducing the need for energy and decarbonising heat supply in the residential and service sectors. The Scottish Government’s draft Climate Change Plan(published for consultation on 19 January 2017) sets out strong ambitions for the residential and service sectors to reduce their emissions by 75% and 98% respectively by 2032.

Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) Evaluation – Kick-off local authority workshop