RECENTLY, the Scottish Government announced its long-awaited Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH). It aims to improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s social housing stock, cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce fuel poverty.
This is a time of unprecedented financial pressure on many tenants and I welcome the government’s moves to set these targets.
Social landlords have already made significant progress over the past ten years in this area. The Scottish Housing Regulator recently confirmed that 82 per cent of landlords are already fully compliant with the Scottish Housing Quality Standard’s energy efficiency targets; the current benchmark for the sector, which must be met in full by 2015. Indeed, the extent of progress in this area has been so impressive that the government estimates that 64 per cent of social landlords will already have met their tougher EESSH obligations by 2015 when the new standard comes into effect.
This does not mean that these landlords will rest on their laurels. As a new standard to be met by all landlords by 2020, EESSH will ensure that housing providers will continue to invest in further improvements. It is also an important step contributing towards meeting the extremely ambitious carbon reduction targets that the Scottish Government has set for itself to meet by 2050.
A report released this week by the UN warned of catastrophic consequences around the world if global emissions are left unchecked. The news served as a reminder of the responsibility of other sectors to begin to tackle their own sustainability issues. In Scotland, serious challenges exist in terms of ensuring that our privately owned stock of housing meets a similar standard for energy efficiency and quality to our social housing stock. Unless similar standards are introduced for private housing, it is unlikely that Scotland will be able to meet its carbon reduction goals.
Fortunately, it appears the Scottish Government is committed to eventually introducing such targets. In the meantime, social landlords across Scotland will continue to ensure their properties are maintained to the highest energy standard for the benefit of our tenants and the environment around them.
• Keith Anderson is chief executive of Port of Leith Housing Association