Scotland’s New Build Heat Standard 2024 explained

The requirements of the Scottish New Build Heat Standard (NBHS) came into force on 1 April 2024. HETAS aim to clarify the more pertinent points from the standard to build understanding.
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Scottish Government announce a collaborative review of the legislation (30/05/2024 update)

The Scottish Government have announced that they intend to hold a review of the legislation, seeking to address inflexibility and support rural communities that are prone to inconsistent electricity supplies. This collaborative review will aim to avoid any unintended consequences by increasing adaptability, whilst still prioritising zero direct emission heating systems.

HETAS supports this review – it is positive to see concerns surrounding fuel poverty being addressed and rural communities having their voices heard. HETAS works closely with all UK governments and devolved administrations, with our role as a provider of registration and certification schemes granting us the position of a ‘trusted advisor’. Our role allows us to provide factual information and vital data to inform policy decisions and our organisation and its registrants plus certificated scheme members are viewed as integral to influencing a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable future for domestic and non-domestic burning.


We will keep you updated on any amendments that occur and explain any changes the review brings as it happens.

The requirements of the Scottish New Build Heat Standard (NBHS) came into force on 1 April 2024, requiring any applications for a building warrant – including installation of a new heating system – in a new build property constructed after this date to evidence that a zero direct emission recognised technology is being installed.

The standard gives reference to these types of technologies, including heat pumps and solar panels. However, heat pumps are not a universal solution that achieve the same result across all structures; the building design, airtightness, existing system, and component sizing all impact their effectiveness and the investment costs for effective implementation in homes can be an issue. Whilst progressive steps are required to achieve net zero and we support strong initiatives to move away from fossil fuels, reliance on a limited scope of heating technology can be challenging.

With some ambiguity present and pieces of information being open to interpretation within the new Scottish standard, HETAS aim to clarify the more pertinent points, as listed below. This will assist in building understanding regarding these new requirements and the new responsibilities for installation in new build properties in Scotland.

What properties does the NBHS encompass?

Only building warrant applications from 1 April 2024 for the installation of a solid fuel heating appliance will be required to evidence that a zero direct emission technology has been installed.

Does this include installation works carried out within an extension of an existing building?

Installation works carried out within an extension of an existing building or those that are an alteration within an existing building are not covered by NBHS and are therefore exempt from the requirements.

Does this affect solid fuel heating installations in existing buildings?

The new legislation only covers new build constructions from 1 April 2024; buildings constructed prior to 1 April 2024 are not required to evidence the installation of a zero direct emission heating appliance as part of the building warrant notice application and can be installed without issue.

Similarly, any modification works (such as repair, maintenance, or sweeping) taking place within an existing installation in an existing building are not required to evidence a zero direct emission heating appliance as part of the warrant application and no additional evidence is required.

Limitations and exemptions

There are some limitations to the new standard, but it is dependent on the type of technology being installed. The NBHS provides exemptions for any technologies deemed as ’emergency heating’. This encompasses technologies required in circumstances whereby power outages are common, rendering technology less reliable.

HETAS currently understands that independent solid fuel boilers and some designs of pellet stoves that utilise a power source to run their fans, sensors, and control panels will not be exempt under the caveat of emergency heating. This means appliances such as these would not be a viable installation option in new builds constructed after 1 April 2024.

However, a standard room heater stove that does not utilise electrical components can, in certain circumstances, constitute an emergency heating source. This is particularly relevant for the approximately 170,000 rural off-grid properties in Scotland which are susceptible to power outages, many of which could utilise the renewable advantages of a solid fuel heating stove.

It is the responsibility of the installer during the building warrant application to provide justification of how the technology will function in circumstances where the primary heating system has failed, and how the technology will switch back to the primary heating system once the outage has ended.

Small builds and portable technologies

The NBHS contains caveats in which emergency heating is not immediately permitted. Smaller properties which could utilise portable heating technologies during power outages are noted, but as the majority of these technologies require a power source to operate their use would not be possible in a power outage.

HETAS advise installers to specify this in any building warrant applications in a new build, expressing the advantages of a solid fuel room heater during power outages.

In summary

Wood-burning stoves are not being banned in Scotland. We will continue to work with government to promote the responsible use of biomass and wood burners, working towards a cleaner, safer environment. The new NBHS in Scotland encompasses some primary technologies, meaning that some solid fuel technologies that utilise electricity to run are not a viable installation option in new builds constructed after 1 April 2024. This aligns with the emphasis on designing new buildings to be as energy efficient as possible with low-temperature heating methods.

Solid fuel room heaters that do not utilise electricity to run will still be suitable for installation across most existing properties and new builds located in rural areas may still be able to apply to have a solid fuel room heater for use as emergency heating.

There have been mixed responses to the legislation across media and the industry, with some of the more ambiguous points being highlighted, such as what constitutes ‘emergency heating’. The Scottish Government have stated that they may review the strategy in due course, making it important to keep up to date on the latest legislation.

We always encourage installers, sweeps, retailers, and the wider industry to promote those products and habits which have been verified as reducing the impacts of solid fuel burning on the local environment, promoting Cleaner Choice appliances, Ready to Burn fuels, and responsible burning practices as one of the most cost-effective ways to heat rural homes in Scotland.


HETAS, Severn House, Unit 5 Newtown Trading Estate, Green Lane, Tewkesbury, GL20 8HD