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1.2. Policy & legislation

The Scottish Government has a range of policies and legislation to support the reduction of emissions from Scotland’s buildings and accelerate the deployment of zero direct emissions heating systems, such as heat pumps, to meet Scotland’s 2045 net zero target.


Policy and legislation

  • This legislation set the ambitious target for Scotland to reach net zero emissions by 2045. These are statutory economy-wide targets that can only be met through domestic action, and not through any international emissions offsetting. 

    This Act also embeds the principles of a Just Transition. This means reducing emissions in a way that also tackles inequality, promotes fair work and does not leave anyone behind. 

  • The Heat in Buildings Strategy sets out the Scottish Government’s vision for reducing building emissions to meet its net zero target. By 2045, all homes and buildings in Scotland must have significantly reduced their energy use, with almost all buildings using a zero direct emissions heating system. All homes must also reach the equivalent of EPC band C by 2033. 

    To meet the 2045 emissions target, Scotland will need to reduce emissions by 68% in homes and buildings against 2020 levels. 

    This will require: 

    • The vast majority of the 170,000 off-gas homes currently using fossil fuels to switch to zero direct emissions heating systems, such as heat pumps.  
    • At least 1 million on-gas homes switching to zero emissions alternatives. 
    • A significant reduction in direct emissions heating in non-domestic buildings.  

    To do this, the Heat in Buildings Strategy highlights key “no and low regret technologies” to help Scotland decarbonise its buildings:  

    • energy efficiency improvements
    • heat pumps  
    • low and zero emissions heat networks 

    Currently around 3,000 households per year install low and zero emissions heating, such as heat pumps. This needs to grow rapidly to over 200,000 per year in the late 2020s. 

    The Scottish Government estimates that this heat transition could support an estimated 16,400 additional jobs and unlock £33 billion worth of spending across the economy by 2045.

    The Scottish Government has developed regulations that require all new buildings, for which a building warrant application is submitted from 1 April 2024, to use zero emissions heating.

  • Increasing the capacity of the supply chain is not only about increasing the number of heat pump installers. We also need to have a highly skilled workforce that can deliver quality installations for their customers. The Scottish Government’s Heat in Buildings Strategy Quality Assurance Policy Statement sets out the suggested certifications and qualifications that heat pump installers should have in Scotland, including installer requirements for their Home Energy Scotland Grant and Loan replacement scheme.

    The quality assurance requirements for microgeneration, including heat pumps, is Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certification. This is the current installer certification requirement and MCS certification will apply to all future Scottish Government programmes and schemes where appropriate. The government has also committed to integrating the Scottish installers skills matrix into the MCS installer standards.

    Customers are already supported in finding MCS-certified installers using the Renewable Installer Finder (RIF) tool on Energy Saving Trust’s website. This allows them to search for MCS installers near them, look at other customer reviews, and leave their own reviews of work competed by installers.

    If you’re already MCS certified and want to be featured on the RIF tool, go to the website and register using your MCS login details.


  • The Scottish Government recently held a consultation on a proposed Heat in Buildings Bill that will make new laws around the energy efficiency of our homes and buildings and the way we heat those buildings.  The consultation was opened on 28 November 2023 and closed 8 March 2024.

    Watch this space for updates on the consultation results.