If you are confused by what has changed, what will change and what might change within the Scottish Building Regulations then read on.

What has changed

Building Standards Division presentation, Scotland member virtual meeting, 2023
Building Standards Division presentation, Scotland member virtual meeting, 2023

In February 2023 changes to Section 6 (the energy standards) of the Scottish Building Regulations came into effect. We ran a webinar for members to explain the details of these changes with the Building Standards Division of the Scottish government. You can watch the recording here.

What will change

From 1 April 2024, new homes and buildings in Scotland will not be allowed to use direct emission (or polluting) heating systems such as oil and gas boilers. Instead, climate-friendly alternatives like heat pumps and heat networks will need to be used.

This is known as the New Build Heat Standard (NBHS) and it affects the type of heating system that new-build homes and properties will be allowed to use. The NBHS applies to all new buildings and some conversions where a building warrant is applied for from 1 April 2024.

To find out about the exceptions and why the NBHS is being introduced read this factsheet.

The technical handbooks which explain how to achieve the requirements are here. The Scottish Government is developing separate proposals for heating existing buildings. Please note that these are not yet law. 

What might change: A Scottish Passivhaus Equivalent for new build housing

Alex Rowley MSP
Alex Rowley, MSP

Back in May 2022, Alex Rowley MSP proposed a draft Members’ Bill in the Scottish Parliament which sought ‘new minimum environmental design standards for all new build housing to meet a Scottish equivalent to the Passivhaus standard, in order to improve energy efficiency and thermal performance’.

To support this work, Mr Rowley undertook a public consultation and received over 600 responses on the potential bill. The final proposed Bill then gained the necessary cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament. In December 2022, Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights confirmed that the Scottish Government would bring forward legislation to give effect to Mr Rowley’s Bill.

To develop proposals for the legislation, a review of energy standards within the Scottish building regulations was initiated at the beginning of 2023. The review is considering standards for both new homes and new non-domestic buildings.

DITT Construction Ltd with Gordon Nelson
Peter Tait (left) and Steven Farquhar (right) of DITT Construction Ltd with Gordon Nelson (centre)

A working group to support this review of energy standards was established in June 2023. As building contractors will be at the sharp end when it comes to build costs and affordability, the FMB was invited to participate. My thanks to FMB Scotland Board member Peter Tait and his colleague Clint Cook from D.I.T.T Construction who agreed to get involved.

Now the working group’s role is to offer advice and expertise to the Scottish Government to help define what and how, a Scottish equivalent to the Passivhaus standard will look like. The Scottish Government are also undertaking a public consultation in the summer of 2024 to gather views on this.

The deadline to implement the Bill and lay regulations in the Scottish Parliament on the Scottish equivalent to the Passivhaus standard is 15 December 2024.

Hopefully this helps to clarify what has already become law and what is in the pipeline on building regulations.

Got a question?

Contact Gordon Nelson, Scotland Director on 07769 687 232 or email.

Email Gordon


Gordon Nelson

Gordon Nelson

FMB Scotland Hub Director, Federation of Master Builders

Director, Federation of Master Builders Scotland

Gordon has nearly twenty years’ experience of working in membership organisations in Scotland and joined the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in 2014. Prior to this, he worked at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and for Unilever in business development, membership management and business-to-business marketing roles. Amongst his responsibilities in his role as the Director for FMB Scotland are public affairs, media relations, governance and representing member’s interests to Scottish policy makers and stakeholders within the Scottish construction industry. Gordon is the Secretary of the Cross-Party Group on Construction in the Scottish Parliament, and he is a member of the Scottish Building Standards Futures Board. Gordon represents the FMB on Scotland’s Construction Industry Collective Voice: which is comprised of the leading construction trade and professional bodies. In spring 2023 Gordon was appointed as an industry co-chair of the Construction Leaderships Forum’s (CLF) Transformation Board.

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