Sustainable Building Features

Energy Performance Certificate - C

An Energy Performance Certificate has been produced for the Parliament. The certificate is a document which states the energy efficiency of a building based on how it was constructed.

This is calculated using computer software to replicate the building. Information entered into the model includes building geometry, insulation values and heating and lighting systems. Ratings range from A, the most efficient to G the least efficient. The energy rating allows different buildings to be compared as standardised-use patterns are assumed.

The Parliament's energy rating is C.

For more information on energy certificates visit the Scottish Building Standards website.

Environmental Award – BREEAM  

A detailed environmental audit of the entire building was conducted by the Building Research Establishment, an independent environmental consultancy.

The three main parts of the building complex (the MSP Building, Queensberry House and the Assembly Buildings) were rated as "Excellent" for environmental performance under the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. This judged the design of the building in the areas of health & well-being, energy, transport, material selection and water usage.

In the Ecology section of the award Holyrood scored full marks, based on the indigenous species planted across the landscaping which increased biodiversity.

High marks were also scored for the efficient use of water on site. Water from bore holes on the site, which was historically used for brewing, is now used for flushing toilets.

MSP offices were given a high award for the low levels of predicted carbon dioxide emissions, due to their energy-efficient design. Energy consumption is minimised through natural ventilation and lighting where possible.

Credit was also given for the retention of Queensberry House´s structure and façade and for the use of demolition material from the buildings, previously on the site, which was used as fill and hard-core.


The Parliament’s heating and hot water systems are all highly efficient. In the most areas, instead of air conditioning, a central system controls a large number of windows which can open at night during warm weather to allow the building to cool. This system is supplemented with air handling units and air conditioning.


The Parliament uses around 4.5 million kWh of electricity per year. This has been reduced by 2 million kWh per year since the building opened. All equipment is assessed to make sure it as energy efficient as possible and nearly all of the lights across the building have been upgraded to the super-efficient LEDs.



On-site bore holes provide all the water needed for toilets. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has issued the Parliament with a licence to allow extraction of water from the boreholes.


All the timber used in the Parliament originates from well-managed, sustainable sources. 

The Parliament also manages materials used within the building. Most paper used is from 100% recycled waste and many types of material, such as glass, card board, drink cans and printer cartridges are recycled.

Brownfield site

The Parliament is built on a brownfield site, the site of the old Scottish and Newcastle brewery, so avoiding the use of greenfield space. The arrival of the Parliament has increased the biodiversity of the site. A number of rare and native grasses found on Arthur’s Seat have been planted in the parliament’s open spaces. Find out more about the landscaping.


The Parliament has been designed to enable all those who work here to travel to work sustainably. The Parliament is only 15 minutes’ walk from Edinburgh’s main train station and Princes Street is close by, with buses available to all parts of Edinburgh and further afield. Over 100 bicycle racks are available for staff. Shower and changing facilities are provided. There are also bicycle racks outside the building for visitors.

Cycling Scotland has assessed the Parliament for its cycling facilities and have certified that the Parliament has met the criteria to be recognised as a 'Cycle Friendly Employer'. The Parliament chose to limit the number of car parking spaces within the complex to 66, including six for disabled drivers. This compares to 240 car parking spaces which were available when the site was occupied by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries.

There are currently 4 electric charging points for staff and Members to use for their vehicles.

Responsible Purchasing Policy

The Scottish Parliament Corporate Body has a policy to minimise adverse impacts on the environment by carrying out its purchasing activities in an environmentally responsible manner. 

The furniture used in the Parliament is a good example of this policy in action. All wood used in the furniture is from well-managed sustainable forests as a minimum requirement and the use of chrome and leather is avoided.

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