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.

Annex 7.F Supplementary guidance in the aspect of optimising performance

7.F.0 Introduction

The guide should be produced in 2 stages:       

  • at building warrant application submit as much information as possible including the floorplan(s), an outline of the construction and building fabric, specified systems or equipment and any other environmental features, and

  • re-submit at completion after review and updating of specified items as necessary.  

Better design and construction of control mechanisms should make more intuitive buildings and reduce the need for user guidance.  

A good practice example of a guide developed for domestic buildings is on the Scottish Government website at

7.F.1 Scope

The guide should be bespoke to the particular school containing information directly relevant to the design function of the building, as well as identifying strategies for key rooms such as classrooms, sports halls, libraries or community rooms outlining their overall heating lighting and ventilation strategies. This will allow a greater understanding on controlling their internal environment in an efficient manner.  It should be tailored to be a concise non-technical ‘User Information Guide’ for school occupants (pupils, teachers and ancillary staff and visitors) on the operation, and environmental performance covering:

  • overview of environmental strategies: both passive and active

  • energy for heating

  • ventilation

  • energy for lighting

  • water use

  • recycling and waste management

  • renewable technologies  

Do not include unnecessary detail on the operation of the individual elements or systems of technology.

7.F.2 Format

The information within the user information guide should be concise and compact and presented where possible with graphics to aid rapid comprehension. Utilising this approach therefore means it is more likely to be kept available, used for future reference and represented as new pupils are introduced to a school.  

The guide should be accessible to all, using diagrams and coloured presentations. Information should be available in digital format to allow it to be made available as a digital booklet and able to be stored online on a central server perhaps to be used as a mobile application, a digital information board or server screen savers or part of a home screen where Wi-Fi is available.  

Key classrooms that are likely to be used for community or public functions such as, sports halls, libraries or community rooms should have a permanent display to inform occasional users on how to operate the building effectively.  

The emphasis is to provide the information as a digital booklet. Where printed copies are required, the recommended formats should be as a booklet.

7.F.3 Graphics, images and text

The guide should include plans, locating key items of equipment and information only on the systems installed. The format should revolve around simple illustrations following the principle – ‘show don’t tell’. An illustration can be a hand-drawn sketch, a computer image or a photograph. These can be mixed because consistency in style is less important than content. Illustrations do not need to be to scale, but should show relationships and explain things quickly and easily. These guidelines should be followed:

  • Use illustration where possible to focus the building user on the equipment that users normally come into contact with (e.g. heating controls  and lighting controls)

  • Link key components (e.g. lighting controls) to location plan to help the user to make connections between controls and systems quickly

  • Images should be labelled

  • Avoid non-essential images (e.g. lifestyle image) which can reduce the authority of the document

  • Use graphic formats that preserve the sharpness and clarity of lines

  • Illustrations should be associated with a legible caption of standard size and colour

  • Many people have difficulty understanding plans, so use other images, (e.g. a simple 3D diagram alongside plans to aid comprehension)

  • Use colour where possible as an easy way to differentiate categories visually. However readers may be colour blind, so use icons, illustrations and high contrast type

  • Digital Text, plans illustrations and diagrams should be scalable to assist people who may have sight difficulties

  • Use clear, colour, photographs (well lit, avoid use of flash if possible) or line illustrations of actual installed equipment

  • Use engineer’s or manufacturer’s drawings as reference in order to comprehend the system but edit these to remove unnecessary items

  • Do not attempt to replace the manufacturer's manuals but refer to them for further information. The main elements or products should be identified with their full names/reference model numbers and links to more information such as manuals or manufacturers websites

  • Use plain English avoiding detailed technical descriptions

  • Use bullet points where possible

  • Avoid jargon and acronyms. If an acronym is necessary define it on first use. (e.g. MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery system) is used because the acronym is more likely to lead to success in internet searches for more information.

7.F.4 DOs and DON’Ts

Provide a brief list of essential DOs and DON'Ts for occupant interaction with key teaching space and system (heating, ventilation, lighting etc). This should be specific to the heating system installed and ideally, in a colour coded text box, in a consistent position on the page.

7.F.5 Sections

Aim to fit a section relating to each of the following categories on the equivalent of a single page.  

a) Overview

Give a brief description of the basic features of the school, including insulation, building fabric, heating, ventilation, renewables, lighting and hot water use and any major equipment that make a difference to how the school operates. Avoid large paragraphs. Keep under 200 words.  

The overview page should include the following sentence:

This guide is produced to meet the aspect of 'Optimising Performance' within Section 7: Sustainability of the Building Standards Non-Domestic Technical Handbooks.

  • Locate key parts of the equipment, annotated on a legible plan or other illustration.

  • Plans should be simple and clear, generally ‘planning application’ standard with walls blacked in, dimensions and unnecessary annotation removed in the CAD program provider.

  • Use 3D plan perspectives, axonometric diagrams, or cutaway models to aid understanding. Items to be shown include:

    • Key elements of the construction and materials - roof, walls, windows and doors

    • Elements of heating, lighting  and ventilation equipment

    • Heat emitting devices

    • Control locations

    • Resource use displays

    • General information (e.g. water stop-cocks (localised and central) plant rooms, gas meters, electricity meters etc).  

b) Heating

Describe how the teaching space is heated including aspects of the building fabric and ventilation that are relevant to how the system works. Cover the main principles of use in both warm and cold weather. Simple diagrams illustrating how the individual teaching space is heated and cooled in both winter and summer are useful. Avoid engineering heating system schematics as many people find these hard to understand.  

Describe in around 50-100 words the main heating source in the teaching space, including the principles of operation and fuel source if relevant. Supplementary heating sources should be mentioned, where included. Provide a brief description of how heat reaches rooms e.g. radiators, under floor heating, air grilles, with illustrations provided as required. Briefly describe how heating is controlled. Illustrations and locations are required for all the main controls. Identify the reaction to heating controls (for example there may be a time lag before a heating system operates at optimum capacity) and outline the normal range if this is not obvious.  

c) Ventilation

Describe in around 50-100 words how the teaching space is ventilated and the main principles for its use, in both warm and cold weather. Simple diagrams illustrating how the teaching space is ventilated in winter and summer are useful. Briefly describe how the ventilation is controlled with illustrations and locations required for all the main controls. This should include both natural and mechanical systems. Identify the elements that users have the most interaction with, so in natural ventilation, it may be trickle vents and opening of windows together with a reference to cross ventilation. For mechanical ventilation it may be the boost switch and location of filters.  

d) Hot Water

Provide up to 50-100 words on how water is heated in the school, including primary and secondary systems (for example a boiler working with solar hot water panels). Consider a simple diagram illustrating how the system works if it has a number of components or options. Briefly describe how hot water generation is controlled. Illustrate the controls, identify the reaction to hot water controls (for example there may be a time lag before a hot water system operates at optimum capacity) and outline the normal range if this is not obvious.  

e) Natural and Artificial Lighting

Provide up to 50-100 words on a how teaching space is lit both naturally and artificially. For natural daylight, a simple diagram illustrating how the effects the sun may have, in both the summer and winter (or bright or overcast days) including any solutions to reduce glare. Describe how manual or automatic controls for artificial lighting can reduce the likelihood of artificial lights being used when they are not required.  Briefly describe how any manual artificial lighting is controlled as well as illustrating their location.  

f) Other Energy Saving Features (if installed)

Cover any other energy saving feature installed as part of a passive strategy to heat light or cool a building. Include instructions for items not covered elsewhere. Each item should have a brief (around 50 words) description of other energy saving features. Identify for each item:

  • Name or description

  • Location

  • How to control it and where the controls are located

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