Get ready for the ban on oil and gas boilers - Andrew Boccoli

The upcoming ban on the installation of oil and gas boilers in new buildings is a milestone moment for construction in Scotland – and something all in the industry should be preparing for.

From April 1 2024, The Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2023 (New Build Heat Standard) will prohibit the use of direct emissions heating systems in new domestic and non-domestic new-builds which require a building warrant.

Essentially, this means it will no longer be possible to construct buildings in Scotland with heating systems which produce greenhouse gases.

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While this comes with the applaudable aim of cutting carbon emissions – something in which the industry has made significant strides in recent years with new homes more energy efficient than ever- it should be on everyone’s radar that it is likely to mean rising costs for alternative systems, at least in the short term.

Andrew Boccoli is a Director, LindsaysAndrew Boccoli is a Director, Lindsays
Andrew Boccoli is a Director, Lindsays

And while many headlines surrounding the upcoming change have focused on new homes, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that all new buildings are affected.

The law change means they will have to be built with what are known as “zero direct emissions heating” technologies.

This translates to the likes of heat pumps, solar thermal and solar thermal storage systems, electric storage heaters, electric boilers, fuel cells and direct electric heaters.

The question I often hear is ‘Who in the construction industry will be affected?’ The short answer: Everyone.

Whether you are involved in building design or the installation or procurement of heating systems, this will affect you.

In terms of preparation, there is a growing expectation that supplies of compliant equipment will come under pressure as demand increases. Those wanting certainty about projects requiring a building warrant from April would be best advised to start planning now.

We know the industry’s biggest players are on top of the change, but I would encourage smaller enterprises, contractors and sub-contractors to be prepared too, whether or not involved in design or build.

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With everyone already running on tight margins, contractors don’t want financial difficulties on projects because they have planned and priced work based on fitting gas boilers, for example, then find themselves legally required to make a change.

It is always important that contractors and developers are properly aware of the fine detail in contracts as well keeping one eye on whether enhanced contractual terms might be required for future projects so that they can manage and mitigate risks, including material costs and the possibility of delay owing to the availability – or lack – of these new heating systems.

Specialist legal advice can be important in this respect, especially considering that the upcoming boiler change is likely to be among a raft of potential further measures coming down the line from the Scottish Government to support the national push towards net-zero by 2045.

Interestingly, south of the border, the UK Government’s proposed Future Homes Standard aims to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions of 75-80 per cent compared to current building regulations.

As in Scotland, this will be achieved through the installation of low-carbon heating systems. The UK Government lists such systems as including heat pumps and hydrogen boilers.

The UK Government's position on hydrogen, however, marks a potential distinction in approach compared to Scotland, citing a lack of data around the potential direct emissions of 100 per cent hydrogen appliances. The Scottish Government is currently undecided on whether they will be permitted under the new Scottish regulations.

Andrew Boccoli is a Director, Lindsays



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