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A Low Carbon Building Standards Strategy for Scotland


Published in 2007 the Sullivan Report - ‘A Low Carbon Building Standards Strategy for Scotland’ set out recommendations to drive forward standards and innovation. The Report made recommendations across a wide range of topics, including on the delivery of very low carbon buildings through building regulations, in support of climate change objectives.

The original Report provided recommendations for investigation within an overall route map towards ‘net zero carbon’ new buildings and was integral to recent review of energy standards, both the 2010 standards and the announcement on 2015 energy standards.  It has also influenced development of policy in a range of other areas.
In recognition of the economic downturn and in support of ongoing and future work, Ministers asked the Panel to reconvene in May 2013 to revisit some of the original recommendations.

The Sullivan Report – 2013 update

Through investigation and implementation of recommendations of the original Sullivan Report, the Scottish Government has made substantial progress in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from both new and existing building stock in Scotland.  The key themes of the update meeting in 2013 related to the following workstreams from the original Sullivan Report:

  • Eventual and staged standards – Percentage improvements recommended in 2007.
  • Process – Extending carbon compliance beyond site‐related measures; and
  • Costings – Recognising the value of new‐build energy standards.

Work in investigation of these further recommendations will be taken forward from 2014.


The Sullivan Progress Report 2011

Published in early 2011, this Progress Report describes the work which has been carried out in response to the 56 recommendations contained within the 2007 Sullivan Report.


The Sullivan Report 2007

In May 2007, the new Scottish Government programme for the first 100 days of government set out a number of actions. This included establishing an expert panel to report on the changes needed to develop a strategy for low carbon buildings and improve building regulations. The aim was to increase energy efficiency standards towards those which exist in Scandinavia.

In August 2007, Scottish Ministers appointed an expert panel to advise on a low carbon buildings standards strategy for Scotland. The Panel was chaired by Lynne Sullivan OBE, bringing together designers, developers, contractors, building standards verifiers, researchers and experts from Norway, Denmark and Austria with experience of their own high energy standards.

The Panel met in September 2007 and the Sullivan Report, ‘A Low Carbon Buildings Standards Strategy for Scotland’ was published in December 2007. The report made a total of 56 recommendations across a wide range of topics, looking at new and existing buildings and the activities and initiatives needed to deliver reduced emissions from Scotland’s building stock.


Policy Background

Through the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, Ministers have set out world-leading emissions reduction targets. Part 1 of the Act creates the statutory framework for greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Scotland by setting an interim 42 per cent reduction target for 2020 and an 80 per cent reduction target for 2050. It also requires Scottish Ministers to set annual emission reduction targets from 2010 to 2050 and to report on action taken to reduce emissions.

Approximately 40% of UK carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings, principally space heating and cooling, water heating, lighting and other fixed systems – energy uses which are covered by building regulations.  This highlights the need for regulation, for new buildings and where work is carried out to existing buildings, to contribute to the overall reduction in emissions, within a framework which also supports sustainable economic growth. This is most recently shown in the 2013 consultation on energy standards.