Building standards technical handbook 2022: non-domestic

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.

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 and cooling pipes and ducts and hot water storage vessels will improve energy efficiency by preventing:

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

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

For cooling systems it is important to ensure the risk of condensation is adequately controlled.

Conversions - in the case of conversions, as specified in regulation 4, the building as converted must be improved to as close to the requirement 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 into 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 Non-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.

Clauses 6.4.2 & 6.4.3 provide 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. This will not be necessary where the pipes or ducts always contribute to the heating or cooling demands of the room or space and the pipes or ducts are located at a height of 3m or less above the floor. 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.

6.4.3 Consequential improvement

Where work to an existing building is subject to a building warrant and includes the provision of new fixed building services or alters or extends the capacity of existing fixed building services, the opportunity should be taken to review and improve the performance of fixed building systems.

Guidance on the extent to which improvement should be made is given in annex 6.D –‘Improvement to the energy performance of existing building services when carrying out building work’.

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