New design guide to transform Scotland’s approach to affordable housing

CCG Granton D1 Aerial Net Zero

A new catalogue of net zero carbon building designs could provide a significant boost to Scotland’s affordable housing sector, as part of a standardised approach for local authorities and housing associations to adopt across a range of future developments.

The energy-efficient design and performance standards have been created by the Edinburgh Home Demonstrator (EHD) programme. The catalogue covers different housing typologies, such as flats, houses and cottage flats, which combine fabric-first energy efficient standards, renewable energy technology, and modern methods of construction – also known as offsite manufacturing.


The £1m EHD programme – involving partners from the City of Edinburgh Council, Offsite Solutions Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Edinburgh, Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST) and Scottish Futures Trust – is trialling the new approach for high-performing affordable homes.


The first pilot project in Granton includes the creation of 75 net zero carbon ready one, two and three-bed flats which is being constructed by offsite construction specialists, CCG (Scotland), and is funded by the Scottish Government’s Affordable Housing Supply Programme and the City of Edinburgh Council. 


With the new design and performance standards, the programme hopes to inform new build developments across the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal[1], providing a route map to net zero carbon homes that utilise offsite manufacturing. While the guide recommends common parts, including floorplans and zero gas heating systems, elements such as the external materials and appearance of homes can be customised to ensure buildings remain in keeping with local surroundings.


Ainslie McLaughin, Chair of the Edinburgh Home Demonstrator Programme Project Board, said:

“Our ambition is to reduce the carbon footprint of the housing sector by designing new homes that ultimately consume less energy. Affordable housing plays a significant role among many communities and we want to create homes that are better suited for future generations. The flats we are delivering in Granton will be highly energy efficient and will also encourage residents to make low carbon lifestyle choices in relation to services like transport and travel.


“A key output of the pilot project is the evidence we will collect on the performance of the homes. Not only will it inform the next stages of building work here in Edinburgh and the City Deal but it could also influence future designs and procurement practices across all of Scotland’s affordable housing.”


Sam Hart, Head of Modern Methods of Construction at BE-ST, said: “We are facing a climate emergency and need to rapidly transform all aspects of the built environment to reduce its carbon footprint. Compared to carrying out the majority of works on site, offsite manufacturing is proven to be more accurate and more efficient, while also reducing waste. This programme is helping to provide local authorities and developers with information about what zero carbon looks like in practice, as well as building evidence to support offsite specialists and other supply chain partners.”


Nicola Jackson, Chair of Offsite Solutions Scotland, added: “With advancing building performance requirements and increasing levels of technology required to be integrated in new homes to improve operational performance, we can better assure this is delivered through manufacturing homes in a controlled, dry factory environment to improve build quality. Offsite Solutions Scotland members have come together as a network of leading offsite timber manufacturing companies to deliver pilot projects as part of the Edinburgh Home Demonstrator programme. This will support the development of a new delivery model for net zero affordable homes using offsite manufacturing.”



[1]  The Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal comprises six local authorities: The City of Edinburgh Council, Fife Council, East Lothian Council, Midlothian Council, West Lothian Council and Scottish Borders Council.