What we learned about Green Leases, with DTAS

Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS) provided lots of helpful advice for non-profits and voluntary groups that rent facilities during our workshop on ‘Green Leases’. Find out what we learned in our blog and download their toolkit.

Heating, Landlords and the Green Lease

As the climate crisis starts to hit our most marginalised communities the hardest, work has begun among governments and organisations to adapt to its effects and to mitigate their contribution to it. The mitigation effort has revealed important insights about our infrastructure. There are substantial carbon savings we can make with little effort because we currently need to use more energy than is necessary.

That might sound counterintuitive – how can you need more than is necessary? The UK’s building stock is poorly insulated, quite old, and often has single-glazed windows, even in the cooler areas of Scotland. It is some of the worst in Europe for this. Even our more recent buildings are often not heat-efficient to a modern standard which means that more energy is used to heat them. In 2022, energy prices rose significantly, and that, plus this heat inefficiency, has harmed groups quite severely.

There are zero-carbon ways of heating buildings, such as air-source heat pumps. But they, too, require proper insulation. In our buildings checklist, we spoke about prioritising insulation for this reason, and we have an environmental grants directory which will help pay for some of that.

However, one of the most common obstacles groups come to us with is not knowing what to do but whether they can do it. Many non-profit groups and organisations would like to become more climate-friendly, but it is unclear if they can because they are renting.

Several cannot control the heating in their place of work, as the boiler or thermostat cannot be accessed. For instance, a heating timer has been set at the same times and levels daily, which may be more than required.

That may sound fair, but in the cases we have seen, it does not change per season, leading to air conditioning in the middle of summer to counteract the heating that’s left on since winter.

Air conditioning puts out gases that are hundreds of thousands of times worse than carbon dioxide, and this usage may not even be necessary.

So, what can you do?

Solutions do exist to this problem. Many leases give you the right to make necessary changes already, even if you only rent a building. The ‘green lease’ is another solution. Working with your landlord, you can renegotiate the heads of terms of your lease to allow you to make these changes.

In this blog, we have attached a Green Lease Toolkit from the Development Trust Association Scotland on green leases and the process of identifying what it already allows you to do in your lease. We also recommend this if you are a landlord for one or more community groups.

Download the Green Lease Toolkit  >

If you have experienced the above issues with being unable to control your heating, we encourage you to contact us at climate@gcvs.org.uk. We are interested to see how common the problem is, and find ways where we can help overcoming the obstacles.


For more help and advice, please find the latest training opportunities on our Sector Development Calendar on Eventbrite.

Read more about support from our team here, and sign up for our climate newsletters.

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