Cairn Housing Association achieves Scotland first EnerPHit standard retrofit

Changeworks has a strategic partnership with Cairn Housing Association. Since 2021 we have been working together on Cairn’s EESSH (Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing) and net zero strategies.

Recently Cairn have retrofitted two properties to the EnerPHit standard. This progressive level of retrofit addresses both fuel poverty and climate change and is a first for a Scottish social landlord.

The Cairn Housing Association properties should attain the coveted EnerPHit standard for energy efficiency. Developed by the Passivhaus Trust, EnerPHit requires extensive insulation upgrades to a building’s fabric, with such improvements drastically reducing the amount of energy needed to comfortably heat the home. This is the first time that any Scottish social housing has been awarded such a status.

The high levels of insulation in the two homes mean that conventional central heating is no longer necessary. This is reflected in the improved EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating of the properties, taking them from an F (the second lowest band) all the way up to an A (the highest band).

Such an improvement in energy efficiency will help Cairn’s tenants tackle both the climate crisis and the high levels of fuel poverty. Since both homes now require less energy to run, there should be significant savings in terms of both money and carbon emissions. Changeworks’ Impact Evaluation team will be measuring just how much of a difference this makes to tenants.

Katy Syme, Impact Evaluation Consultant, said:

“Changeworks are monitoring internal temperature, humidity levels and energy consumption to measure the change pre- and post-retrofit. Interviews with tenants will gather feedback on householder warmth and comfort, wellbeing, and perceptions of energy efficiency and energy bill affordability.”

Proving that such a high level of retrofit is both possible and beneficial has exciting implications for Scotland’s journey to net zero.

Roddy Hamilton, Head of Net Zero Programme Development, explained:

“Changeworks and Cairn are working with stakeholders across the Highlands & Islands to develop strategies and approaches to decarbonising Scotland’s homes.

“The team at Cairn, John Gilbert Architects, GM Henderson and partners limited, Hardies Property & Construction Consultants and Fairhurst have delivered an excellent project which demonstrates the capabilities of local contractors and the impact of EnerPHit. This project will hopefully inform future EnerPHit projects in the Highlands and Scotland.”

You can find out more about this project on Cairn’s website: