Scottish Government plans for low carbon homes will provide more than £2 billion to help make the nation's homes more energy efficient.
More than one in four Scottish households suffer from fuel poverty with more than 500,000 homes still requiring cavity wall insulation and more than 600,000 homes with solid walls.
The investment will be delivered over the next ten years in a national programme that will transform aging houses. The measures are outlined in the Sustainable Housing Strategy, a blueprint for reduced heating costs and improved efficiency in homes across Scotland.
It is linked to the consultation on the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing which proposes setting a minimum energy efficiency rating to be met by social landlords.
Launching the consultations in Glasgow after visiting Cube Housing Association’s new Energy Centre delivering heat to housing in the Wyndford estate in Maryhill, Mr Neil said “Scotland's housing stock is responsible for more than a quarter of our carbon emissions, which is why it is essential that measures are put in place to improve the energy efficiency of our homes.
“An estimated 658,000 households were in fuel poverty in Scotland in 2010, or 28% of households.
“These strategies provide a great opportunity for Scottish businesses and can provide a real boost to our economy. Working with the energy companies, we plan to ensure investment of over £2 billion pounds is provided over the next ten years to ensure our housing stock is energy efficient.
“New technologies, which would bring down carbon emissions as well as household fuel bills, are key to energy efficient homes and a vital element in economic recovery.”
“The drive to transform new-build through innovative design and construction approaches creates economic and export opportunities for Scottish companies, along with an opportunity to make greater use of Scottish timber in innovative products.”
Trisha McAuley, Deputy Director at Consumer Focus Scotland said: “Many new-build homes have first-class insulation and green technologies which make them cheaper to run, but older properties often haven’t been upgraded and this piles even more pressure on fuel bills.
“This long-term commitment and focus from the Scottish Government to help older homes become more energy efficient is good news and will help cut fuel bills for many people in this situation.
“It is also welcome news that more consideration is being given to how to reflect energy efficiency improvements when people are moving house so that they can be confident they are increasing the value of their home, as well as making their home warmer and reducing carbon emissions.”
Ian Marchant as Chair of the 2020 Climate Group added: “The 2020 Climate Group aims to ensure that all sectors of Scotland’s economy and civic society contribute fully to achieving Scotland’s ambitious climate change targets.
“We support the vision of high quality, low carbon homes set out in the consultation and are committed to working with the Scottish Government to make this a reality. A key priority is understanding public perceptions and behaviour to maximise the value of the energy efficiency measures needed.”
SFHA Policy & Strategy Manager David Stewart said: “The SFHA welcomes the launch of the Sustainable Housing Strategy and the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing consultations. Energy efficiency and fuel poverty are major issues for housing association and co-operative tenants.
“Recent increases in fuel bills have undone some of the benefits on investment in the energy efficiency of their homes and these two major consultations show that the Scottish Government is giving significant attention to these issues.
"We appreciated the opportunity for the SFHA and housing association representatives to participate in meetings and discussions as the proposals were developed. We are pleased that area-based schemes, the most effective way to lift people out of fuel poverty, are to be funded.
“We look forward to engaging with the Scottish Government during the consultation, with the aim of developing standards that will see improved energy efficiency in Scotland’s affordable rented homes. It is vital that these and standards are matched by suitable investment by the Scottish and UK Governments to allow the necessary improvements to be made."
Elizabeth Leighton of the Existing Homes Alliance Scotland said: "We very much welcome the launch of this important consultation. The Exisiting Homes Alliance believes that improving the condition of our existing housing stock is crucial if targets to eradicate fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions are to be met.
“It is essential that the Sustainable Housing Strategy sets a clear direction for the improvement of Scotland’s housing stock over the coming decade and beyond. As such we would encourage all of those with an interest to get involved in shaping the final strategy by engaging in the consultation process."
Cube Chairman Gordon Scott, who lives on the Wyndford estate, said: “There is no doubt our district heating scheme will make a difference to the lives of hundreds of tenants living in Wyndford.
“The project will modernise and upgrade the heating system in all our tenanted homes and we will offer owners the opportunity to take part too. Properties will be warmer, more energy efficient and more comfortable.
“We are delighted to be working with SSE and Scottish Gas on delivering what we believe is one of the biggest projects of its kind in the UK.”
Gab Barbaro, Managing Director, British Gas Business Services said: “Scottish Gas is very proud to be working with Cube and SSE on one of the UK’s most significant energy efficiency schemes.
“Residents on the estate can expect a real transformation over the coming months. The partnership is investing substantially to improve hundreds of homes in the area, installing an insulated cladding render which will give the multi-storey blocks a fresh new appearance whilst making the flats warmer.
“Coupled with the CHP system, these improvements will make a real difference to tenants by making their homes more energy efficient and more comfortable to live in with dramatically lower heating bills.”
Calum Wilson, SSE Managing Director (Scotland) said: "The Wyndford project is a great example of how district heating technology can lift people out of fuel poverty and significantly reduce carbon emissions.
“SSE is working with the Scottish Government and local authorities to develop similar schemes elsewhere and bring the benefits that will be enjoyed by the people of Wyndford to communities across Scotland."