Building standards technical handbook 2022: domestic

Provides guidance on achieving the standards set in the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004. This handbook applies to a building warrant submitted on or after 1 June 2022 and to building work which does not require a warrant commenced from that date.

0.17 Continuing Requirements

Regulation 17

  1. Subject to paragraph (2), the owners of buildings shall ensure that:

    1. every air-conditioning system within a building is inspected at regular intervals, and

    2. following each inspection of that system the owner of the building or, where the owner is not the occupier, the occupier is given a report containing the result of the inspection and including recommendations for the cost-effective improvement of the energy performance of that system.

  2. This regulation shall not apply to:

    1. air-conditioning systems with a total effective output rating of less than 12kW, or

    2. air-conditioning systems solely for processes within a building.

  3. In terms of section 2 of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 the provisions of paragraph (1) are a designated provision in respect of which there is a continuing requirement imposed on the owners of buildings.

0.17.1 Explanation

Regulation 17 requires the owners of an air-conditioned building to have such plant regularly inspected and to provide advice to the users of the building on related energy efficiency improvement work and how to operate the system efficiently. This regulation implements the terms of Articles 15 & 16 of Directive 2010/31/EU on the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD).

Scope - the regulation relates only to larger, fixed air-conditioning systems and does not cover portable systems. It also relates to comfort cooling of people in a building but does not cover any other system, such as cooling solely used in a manufacturing, trade or mechanical process. For example, a system only cooling computer equipment would be exempt.

The efficiency of the system should be assessed and the sizing compared to the cooling requirements of the building and appropriate advice given to the users of the building on possible improvement or replacement of the system and on alternative solutions.

0.17.2 Implementation

Continuing requirement - the regulation imposes a continuing requirement that means inspections are required not only throughout the life of a new building, but also for the life of an existing building, for as long as it has an air-conditioning system. The requirement to inspect systems in existing buildings was introduced in stages, starting with first inspection of larger systems over 250kW by 4 January 2011, followed by first inspection of all remaining systems over 12kW by 4 January 2013.

0.17.3 Procedures to be followed

CIBSE Technical Memorandum 44 (TM44) 'Inspection of air conditioning systems' provides guidance on the regular inspection and assessment of air-conditioning systems and on the provision of advice and alternative solutions.

Inspection frequency - for completely new air-conditioning systems, one way of meeting paragraph 1(a) of this regulation would be to make arrangements at completion for the first inspection. This should be carried out by an accredited expert no later than 5 years after the acceptance of the completion of commissioning of the system to Standard 6.7.

For existing systems over 12kW, one way of meeting paragraph 1(a) of this regulation would be to make arrangements for an inspection to be carried out by an accredited expert.

In all cases, the accredited expert doing the inspection has the discretion to set the frequency of inspections ranging from three years for poorly maintained and inefficient systems up to five years for those systems that are well maintained and demonstrate excellent levels of efficiency. In order to ensure compliance with the continuing requirement, the subsequent inspection should be carried out within the intervening time period.

The following issues should be considered in setting an inspection of systems more frequently than five years:

  1. inefficiency of system

  2. significantly oversized in relation to the cooling requirements

  3. evidence that the design is not fit for purpose

  4. evidence of poor installation

  5. evidence of lack of maintenance

  6. control system out of adjustment

  7. age of system.

Size of systems - a number of individual systems each 12kW or less, but taken together totalling more than 12kW, within one building or fire-separated part of a building, would only qualify for inspection if they are linked by way of a central control.

New buildings - for new buildings, commissioning of building services including air-conditioning systems and the provision of written information shall be in accordance with Standards 6.7 and 6.8 respectively and guidance to these standards is provided in the Domestic and Non-domestic Technical Handbooks.

Accredited experts - inspections of existing air-conditioning systems should be carried out by accredited experts who are members of protocol organisations who are approved by Scottish Government to carry out such inspections.

Information on current protocol organisations can be found on the Building Standards Division web pages at

0.17.4 Provision of information to owners and occupiers

Following inspection of a system, the inspection report shall be issued by the member of the protocol organisation to the owner of the building. The inspection report shall contain the result of the inspection and include recommendations for the cost-effective improvement of the energy performance of the inspected system.

Where the owner of the building is not also the occupier, the owner should provide a copy of the report to the occupier.

0.17.5 Other legislative requirements

This guidance relates solely to duties imposed under Articles 15 & 16 of the Directive 2010/31/EU on the Energy Performance of buildings. There are other separate legislative requirements for the inspection of air conditioning systems such as the F-Gas Regulations which are not dealt with in building regulations. However from an operational point of view, building owners should give consideration to the economic benefits of combining such inspections where appropriate.

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