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.

Annex 6.A Compensating U-values for windows, doors and rooflights

6.A.0 Introduction

This annex gives guidance on how to calculate the average U-values for windows, doors, and rooflights and supports the guidance to Standards 6.1 and 6.2. It may be used with the elemental methods provided and, in particular:

  • the simplified approach in the guidance to Standard 6.1, where it is not possible to input the individual U-values for all the windows, doors and rooflights for the proposed new dwelling into the methodology (usually SAP 2012), and

  • for work on existing domestic buildings, namely, conversions, extensions, replacements, alterations, and conservatories (clauses 6.2.6 to 6.2.12).

Individual windows, doors or rooflights may exceed the relevant area-weighted average U-values identified in guidance provided that the average U-value calculated for all the windows, doors and rooflights is no greater than that relevant U-value.

The example which follows below illustrates how this trade-off can be calculated.

6.A.1 Example of trade-off between windows, doors and rooflights

A semi-detached house has a total window area of 17.8m2 (including frames) and a total door area of 3.8m2. It is proposed to use 2 external quality timber finished fire doors with a U-value of 1.9W/m2K.

In order to meet Standards 6.1 and 6.2, the additional heat loss due to the use of the poorer external doors should be compensated for by more demanding U-values in the windows and/or rooflights so that the average overall U-value of such elements does not exceed 1.6W/m2K (see table to clause 6.2.1).

Specifying windows and rooflights with a U-value of 1.5W/m2K can achieve this requirement, as shown by the following table and subsequent calculation:

Table 6.6. Average U-value calculation

Element Area (m2)   U-value (Wm2K)   Rate of heat loss (W/K)
Windows 16.9 x 1.5 [1] = 25.35
Doors 3.8 x 1.9 = 7.22
Rooflights 0.9 x 1.8 [1] = 1.62
Total 21.6       34.19


  1. Note that although the windows and rooflights have the same U-value, for the purpose of calculation the rooflight value is 0.3W/m2K poorer due to inclination from the vertical plane (see BR 443 - 'Conventions for U-value Calculations'

This gives an average U-value of 34.19 รท 21.6, or 1.58W/m2K. The windows, doors and rooflights can therefore be considered to follow the objectives of the requirement for the insulation envelope.

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