NEW build houses in Scotland will be required to comply with the rigorous "Passivhaus" standards of sustainability to reduce fuel consumption and help meet climate change targets, according to new plans to be unveiled next week.

They have been drawn up by Labour MSP Alex Rowley who will publish a consultation in Holyrood on Wednesday for a private members' bill he intends to introduce.

Developed by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany, homes built under this design and construction method hold the heat more than those built to lower environmental standards and use less energy and are cheaper to run.

They include high levels of insulation, triple glazed doors and windows and have a mechanical ventilation system designed into them to allow for cooling and the removal of stale air to be replaced by fresh air. They also feature airtight building materials and solar panels.

The Herald:

These new homes were the first Passivhaus standard homes to be completed for Powys County Council in Wales.

Ministers in Scotland have committed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2045, with interim targets to reduce emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 and 90 per cent by 2040. Domestic housing currently generates about 13 per cent of all emissions in Scotland.

Under its strategy to reduce carbon emissions, the Scottish Government wants buildings to be more energy-efficient so by 2030 over one million homes and 50,000 non-domestic buildings are converted to zero-emissions heat.

It has pledged to invest £1.8 billion over the course of the current Parliament to accelerate the programme and support people on lower incomes to install green devices such as heat pumps and solar panels.

The Herald:

Labour MSP Alex Rowley will unveil his consultation for a member's bill on Passivhaus standards in Holyrood this week.

Amid rising inflation and the cost of living crisis some 36 per cent of people in Scotland find energy bills unaffordable, according to a recent poll for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) by YouGov. Some 80 per cent of those struggling cited rising energy costs.

Mr Rowley told The Herald on Sunday: "A move to the Passivhaus ‘gold standard’ for all new-build homes would be radical, ambitious, practical and forward-thinking.

"It would future proof homes and prevent them from having to be retrofitted in the near future, upskill the construction sector and make Scotland a leading player with exportable skills and knowledge.

"I firmly believe we should grasp the opportunity and be a leader, not a follower. A warm, dry, comfortable and affordable home is a basic human need and I would contend, human right.

"By legislating to ensure all new build homes in Scotland meet a Scottish equivalent to Passivhaus design standards we will make homes more affordable to heat, more comfortable to live in and more environmentally sustainable."

Mr Rowley is due to meet Patrick Harvie, the Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights, in the coming weeks to persuade the Scottish Government to back his bill.

The cooperation agreement agreed between Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party includes support for Passivhaus or equivalent standards.

However, housebuilders are concerned that they would incur extra costs in the construction of the Passivhaus homes and that this could push up house prices further.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The Scottish Government is committed to ongoing improvement of the energy and environmental performance of our new homes. 

"Under our Heat in Buildings Strategy, we are completing a review of building regulations, with higher energy standards scheduled to come into force later this year, and proposals for a New Build Heat Standard from 2024, which will ensure new homes produce no direct greenhouse gas emissions.  

“We are keen to see the ambitions associated with Passivhaus realised, and are investigating how such good practice can support improved compliance with building regulations and more assurance on performance in practice. 

“The Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings is due to meet with Mr Rowley soon, to discuss his proposals and how they align with our existing direction of travel.”

Last week, the Scottish Government amended building regulations, with revised standards to be published in full next month.  It is understood that from October 1 this year, Scotland is expected to see a further 32 per cent reduction in emissions associated with new homes, introduction of a new energy target and related provisions on both ventilation and overheating risk.