The Scottish government has shamed the UK government by prioritising energy efficiency of existing buildings, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The Scottish government’s Heat Generation Policy Statement sets out targets to deliver affordable, low carbon energy through heat networks, with 40,000 more homes connected to networks by 2020 – a four-fold increase.

The FMB applauded Scotland’s trail blazing attitude to what it says is an important policy area.

Gordon Nelson, services director of FMB Scotland, said: “We are thrilled that [Minister for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform] Aileen McLeod has taken steps to prioritise this fundamental issue. Not only will this policy boost jobs and growth in Scotland, it will help home owners reduce their energy bills and help lift families and individuals out of fuel poverty.”

“The next hurdle will be to encourage the UK government to increase its ambition for energy efficiency. The UK has a legally binding target to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. This will simply not be achieved unless we dramatically reduce the carbon emissions emitted by our existing building, which are responsible for 27% of the UK’s total carbon emissions.

“Moving away from the obvious carbon reduction benefits of this policy, investing in our current homes is essential at a time when we face a national housing crisis. It makes sense to maximise the benefit of the homes we already have while also ensuring that we build as many new homes as possible,” Mr Nelson said.

Tim Rotheray, Association for Decentralised Energy director, said: "The Scottish Heat Statement shows that decarbonisation can be achieved cost effectively for all energy users.

"By focusing on cutting energy waste and supplying energy more efficiently to homes through heat networks, the plan will help energy users manage their bills.”

The document also sets out how the Scottish government would examine regulatory approaches, keeping it 'commensurate with the scale of the heat market’ and backed industry led initiatives such as independent heat customer protection and standards for networks’ design, build and operation.