From left: Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, Keith Geddes, JW Filshill's chief financial and operating officer, and SWA chief executive Colin Smith

Scottish Wholesale Association has facilitated a visit by Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, to its member JW Filshill’s distribution centre in Renfrew.

The purpose of the visit last week was to discuss the opportunities and challenges faced by Filshill transitioning to the new premises at Westway Park, near Glasgow Airport, earlier this year. During the visit, Mr Harvie saw first-hand how the business has integrated energy efficiencies and reduced carbon emissions.

Mr Harvie was invited to visit the purpose-built premises by the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) which has set out plans to reach net zero by 2040, in time for Scotland’s net-zero target of 2045. In June, the SWA outlined its ambitions in a new report, ‘Decarbonising the Scottish Wholesale Sector’, which explores the sector’s emissions, and attitudes to the issue and the barriers faced in taking climate action.

Around one-quarter of carbon emissions in the Scottish wholesale sector come from energy use in buildings, mainly using gas for heating (8.6% of emissions) and electricity use in buildings generally (17.7%).

SWA’s report was launched alongside the UK Wholesale Sector Net Zero Roadmap, developed in collaboration with FWD (Federation of Wholesale Distributors).

Colin Smith, SWA chief executive, said: “We were delighted to be able to show the minister what a Grade A wholesale depot looks like and the significant investment required to get to this standard.

“Contrasting this with JW Filshill’s previous 1970s depot, which is typical of the 120-plus depots across the SWA’s membership, we were able to highlight to the minister the various areas of investment, steps and challenges faced in retrofitting an older building to attain any significant energy-efficiency savings, let alone achieve Grade A energy performance certification.”

Mr Smith added: “We discussed what is required if we are to secure a just transition for our sector to reach net zero which includes the need for direct and indirect financial assistance for capital costs to invest in renewable energy, greater access to knowledge, and guidance from government agencies.

“There is also a need for planning processes to be streamlined and supportive of businesses’ ambitions, and for businesses to have confidence in, and clarity, of government plans for the decarbonisation of non-domestic buildings.”

During his visit to Filshill, which relocated to Westway Park from nearby Hillington in March and is one of Scotland’s oldest food and drink wholesalers, Mr Harvie heard from Keith Geddes, the company’s chief financial and operating officer, about the development of the new distribution centre which has been aligned to its long-term strategy around benchmarking its carbon footprint.

This included identifying areas where Filshill can positively influence a reduction in its carbon impact and work towards a net-zero emissions position. Mr Geddes spoke about the action taken on decarbonising buildings as part of relocation, including the utilisation of technology that helps monitor use of energy from solar panels. The 16-metre-high warehouse has 211 solar panels covering 400 square metres of roof space.

Link to the Decarbonising the Scottish Wholesale Sector report and Net Zero Roadmap: Sustainability & Decarbonisation (