Smart cities, green buildings and climate change solutions

Scotland is a place for smart thinking people when it comes to finding climate change solutions. With strengths in big data and innovative tech, implementation of low emission zones, green architecture and low carbon heat research, Scotland is building for a more sustainable future.

Net-zero cities

Through the Scottish Cities Alliance millions of pounds are being invested to make the design and architecture of Scotland’s cities smarter. Technology, using data, apps and the Internet of Things (IoT), will help accelerate and transform the delivery of city services and urban spaces.

Environmentally focused cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, are competing to become the UK's first net-zero emission cities. As such, they have set out ambitious programmes for decarbonisation.

Cheery blossom trees in The Meadows, Edinburgh - Photo credit Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam

Greener, more sustainable buildings

Scotland is introducing new building performance standards. It's also supporting substantial investments in low carbon heat and energy efficiency to decarbonise the nation's building stock.

The Scottish Government's Route Map for an Energy Efficient Scotland outlines a 20-year programme of actions to make all of Scotland's existing buildings near zero carbon wherever feasible by 2050.

Meeting BREEAM sustainability standards

The P&J Live facility in Aberdeen is on track to achieve BREEAM Excellent status, the highest environmental standard possible, making it the most sustainable venue of its type in the UK.

Also aiming for the BREEAM Excellent mark is the Barclays Glasgow Campus at Tradeston – a new £500m global tech hub developed by Scottish developer Drum Property, signalling its commitment to carbon net-zero standards.

Innovative tech solutions

Scottish companies are pioneering innovative solutions to make buildings greener.

Glasgow-based company, IES is pioneering AI-based technology that's helping to reduce the carbon emissions of buildings and cities worldwide. Its Intelligent Communities Lifecycle (ICL) platform connects distributed-energy networks, renewables, master plans, building design, operation and retrofit.

The technology will help inform intelligent solutions needed for decision-makers. It will help them identify the most effective and resource efficient ways to dramatically reduce the use of energy and fossil fuels within a community.

Another Scottish firm, Kenoteq is designing low carbon bricks. This Heriot-Watt University spin-out business manufactures ground-breaking building products for the construction industry. The company’s first innovative product is an unfired brick called the K-Briq, made from over 90% recycled demolition and construction waste material.

Decarbonising heat

Opportunities in Scotland

Heat currently accounts for 52% of Scotland’s energy demand and creates 41% of our carbon emissions. So, meeting the target to reach zero emissions by 2045 will be largely dependent on decarbonising heat.

The Scottish Government has set an interim target of reductions for 2032. It aims to use low carbon heat technologies to produce 35% of heat for domestic buildings and 70% of heat and cooling for non-domestic buildings.

This combination of high heat consumption (as a share of total national energy consumption) and highly ambitious greenhouse gas targets, means Scotland has a greater need for low carbon heating solutions.

Minewater geothermal and district heating

Scotland is active in minewater geothermal research and development. Global warming means countries around the world are urgently trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Scotland is already an international leader in combating climate change. But we can’t sit still. Using geothermal heat from minewater could help reduce our greenhouse emissions.

Minewater geothermal is potentially a crucial technology for the decarbonisation of Scotland's heat supply. There are 600 cubic kilometres (km3) of flooded mine workings under Scotland’s populated central belt region. This could provide between 8-40% of Scotland’s heat demand.

Award-winning manufacturer, Star Refrigeration is a great example of a Scottish company providing practical solutions to the environmental issues our world faces. Based in Glasgow, the company manufactures Scotland's largest water source heat pump for district heating.

The Glasgow geoenergy observatory (Glasgow Geothermal Energy Field Research Site) is the only facility of its kind in the world. The project, and related projects around it, will help us not only understand the potential for geothermal heat, but provide a platform to develop demonstrations.

Scotland's Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme has already funded several demonstrator district heating projects in Fife, Dundee and Stirling.

World firsts in low carbon, clean tech transport 

Hydrogen buses

Scotland is also powering ahead with low carbon fuel and clean tech transportation projects. Aberdeen is at the forefront of several exciting hydrogen projects with one of the largest fleet of hydrogen buses in Europe and the UK’s first integrated hydrogen generation and bus refuelling station.

Heavy-duty vehicles

Fife region operates the world’s first hydrogen dual-fuel refuse collection vehicles. While the city of Dundee in Tayside region is home to the UK’s largest electric taxi fleet. Dundee is also named the 'Most electric vehicle-friendly city in the UK' for its initiatives encouraging the use of electric vehicles (EVs) by The World Electric Vehicle Association.

Emergency One is a fantastic example of a Scottish manufacturer innovating for a low carbon future by launching the world’s first fully electric fire engine - the E1 EV0.

Hydrogen-powered ferries

Calmac is the operator of the world’s first diesel-electric hybrid ferries, serving routes around the Clyde and Hebrides.

Ferguson Marine/HySeas is building the world’s first passenger and vehicle hydrogen ferry, which will begin serving the Orkney Isles in 2021.

Hydrogen-powered trains

Scotland plans to decarbonise its railways by 2035, including electrification of the network, procurement of battery-powered trains and exploration of the potential of hydrogen-powered trains.

Carbon capture and low carbon fuels

The world’s first system that will turn landfill gas into green vehicle fuel and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is being set up in Dunbar, East Lothian.

Sustainable mobility

The creation of the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc backed by £60m investment over the next decade will focus on mobility, clean transport and low carbon energy solutions.

Opportunities in Scotland webinars

Climate change solutions

Geothermal energy opportunities in Scotland.

Zero carbon heating

Scotland's opportunity for shared ground source heat pumps.

Zero emissions mobility opportunities

Hear why Scotland is an ideal living lab for the development, testing and scale-up of new technology to meet its net zero target by 2045.

You might also be interested in

Capital investment

Learn more about Scotland's commercial property opportunities, our low carbon ambitions and how we support investors.

Infrastructure and connectivity

Scotland has excellent transport links to the the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, as well offering a first-class digital infrastructure.

Financial and tax incentives

Funding and tax relief schemes are great ways to get new projects off the ground and attract new investors to help you grow.

Want to find out more about low carbon investment opportunities in Scotland?