Building standards technical handbook 2020: domestic

The building standards technical handbooks provide guidance on achieving the standards set in the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004. This handbook applies to a building warrant submitted on or after 1 March 2021 and to building work which does not require a warrant commenced from that date.

6.4 Insulation of pipes, ducts and vessels

Mandatory Standard

Standard 6.4

Every building must be designed and constructed in such a way that temperature loss from heated pipes, ducts and vessels, and temperature gain to cooled pipes and ducts, is resisted.


This standard does not apply to:

  1. buildings which do not use fuel or power for heating or cooling either the internal environment or water services

  2. buildings, or parts of a building, which will not be heated, other than heating provided solely for the purpose of frost protection, or

  3. pipes, ducts or vessels that form part of an isolated industrial or commercial process.

6.4.0 Introduction

Thermal insulation to heating pipes and ducts and hot water storage vessels will improve energy efficiency by preventing:

  • uncontrolled heat loss or heat gains from such equipment, and

  • an uncontrolled rise in the temperature of the parts of the building where such equipment is situated.

Conversions - in the case of conversions, as specified in regulation 4, the building as converted shall meet the requirements of this standard as is reasonably practicable, and in no case be worse than before the conversion (regulation 12, schedule 6).

6.4.1 Insulation of pipes, ducts and vessels in new and existing buildings

Guidance on the insulation of pipes, ducts and vessels is set out, in the context of the systems of which they form a part, in the Domestic Building Services Compliance Guide for Scotland

The document replicates guidance published in support of building standards elsewhere in the UK and supports standardisation of the specification and expected performance of fixed building services throughout the UK. The guidance applies to new systems and replacement, in whole or in part, of existing systems. It also addresses improvement work to existing systems as a consequence of replacing components.

Clause 6.4.2 provides information on situations not addressed in that document.

6.4.2 Work on existing buildings

Where a new boiler or hot water storage vessel is installed, or where existing systems are extended, new or existing pipes, ducts and vessels that are accessible or exposed as part of the work should be insulated as for new systems. Replacement hot water storage vessels should be insulated as for new systems.

It is recognised that complete insulation will sometimes not be possible, where such services pass through or around structural building components, floor joists, for example, or where existing systems are wholly or partially retained as part of conversion works. In such cases, insulation should be fitted as for new systems as far as is reasonably practicable.

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