Carbon and financial savings

Net zero projects for buildings can be broken down into three categories: energy efficiency, heat decarbonisation, and renewable generation.

Energy efficiency

Scotland’s buildings are some of the worst in Western Europe for energy efficiency (see UK homes heat up more quickly than those in western Europe, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, 2021). Offering grants for upgrades like insulation, efficient glazing, and draught proofing saves carbon by reducing heat loss and therefore decreasing the energy people use in their homes.

Heat decarbonisation

To meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious emissions targets, at least 1 million homes will need to switch away from fossil fuel heating systems such as LPG, mains gas, and oil boilers by 2030 (see the Scottish Government’s Heat in Buildings Strategy). Replacing these heating systems with electric heat technology, such as heat pumps, will help take steps towards achieving net zero emissions by 2045. This is because electricity is a heating fuel which can be decarbonised, using energy generated from renewable sources.

Renewable generation

Another example would be to offer grants for householders to install renewable energy generation technology, such as solar panels and batteries. Batteries enable the household to store their zero emission electricity to use later for appliances, heating or hot water (where their heating system is electric).

These three types of upgrades can work together to create an efficient, affordable, and environmentally friendly home. These measures can also often save money for years to come!

Community benefit income could be distributed as grants to support householders to install the types of measures listed above. They could also be used to support householders through this process, such as producing Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) to understand which measures are needed to decarbonise their home, and by providing energy saving behaviour advice.

Facilitating wider community activity

Many communities establish an organisation with employees who develop and coordinate net zero projects. This provides valuable paid work for the local community. These organisations also provide resource and space to benefit broader community activity. For example, BeGreen Dunbar has an office on the town’s high street where they hold events such as jumble sales and first responder training. They also host a space for other local charities to offer face-to-face services.