Boosting investment in energy efficiency could create up to 9,000 jobs a year, business leaders have told the Scottish Government.
More than 20 businesses in the sector have written a joint letter to Economy Secretary Keith Brown urging him to “set out a clear direction of travel” for the “growing industry”.
While the firms already employ thousands of workers, they believe taking a “long-term, infrastructure approach to tackling poor housing as a cause of fuel poverty” could create 8,000 to 9,000 jobs a year.
The business men and women said: “Winter has closed in and we are reminded how important it is that we all have affordable, sustainable ways of keeping our homes warm.
“Now is the time for the Scottish Government to be ambitious about ensuring that everyone in Scotland can do that.”
As well as calling for increased spend on energy efficiency, they also suggest the Scottish Government should set a target for the amount of heat that comes from renewable energy sources.
The letter was written with the backing of the Existing Homes Alliance, which is calling on ministers to increase spending on energy efficiency in next year’s budget to £190 million, saying this would allow for existing schemes to be expanded and provide confidence to the sector at the start of the new Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP).
In the longer term, the alliance wants spending to be ramped up to an average of £450 million a year over 10 years, saying this level of investment would ensure all homes could be brought up to a minimum Energy Performance Certificate rating of C.
This change is needed to cut emissions produced by domestic heating but as well as helping tackle climate change, the move would also assist with efforts to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland.
“More than half of Scotland’s energy usage currently comes from demand for heating but so far we are only generating around 5% of that from renewable sources,” the letter to Mr Brown said.
“Setting an ambition for the scale of this market would go a long way to driving industry investment, growth and innovation, just as the Scottish Government’s renewable electricity targets have done.”
In its budget submission to ministers, the Existing Homes Alliance said: “Housing is an area where Scotland has made relatively little progress in reducing emissions.
“Once adjustments for temperature are made, emissions have fallen by less than 0.8% per year in the residential sector since the Climate Change Act was introduced in 2009.”
The Scottish Government’s independent advisers on climate change – the Committee on Climate Change – have already recommended “an extensive upgrade of a significant number of homes in Scotland” is needed by 2030 to “keep us on the cost-effective path to meeting climate targets”.
The alliance added: “It is estimated that such a programme could create 8,000 to 9000 jobs per year, spread around Scotland unlike other infrastructure projects and with a large proportion of them with small- and medium-sized businesses.”