Changes to Scottish Building Regulations


The latest updates to the Scottish Building Regulations come in to force on the 1st October and at ORA we have been working to ensure that we are ready to implement these changes.


In line with the recommendations of ‘A Low Carbon Building Standards Strategy for Scotland (The Sullivan Report)’ and following the general trend of upgrades to the Building Regulations over the past 10-15 years, the greatest changes are again within Section 6 : Energy and seek to further improve the energy efficiency of all new buildings. This is the latest stage towards the eventual aim of achieving a ‘net zero carbon’ standard for new development in Scotland.


Domestically the updated standards set a 21.4% reduction in carbon emissions for all new housing (to match the enhanced level currently set for ‘Silver Standard’ development) while  SAP 2012 is now adopted as the method for calculating energy consumption in dwellings. There has also been recognition of the implications of improving air tightness in housing in order to achieve new energy efficiency levels, with CO2 detectors required to the main bedrooms and the inclusion of dMEV (decentralised Mechanical Extract Ventilation) as a possible ventilation strategy for houses designed to this level.


On Non-Domestic projects, the main aim of the updated standard is to achieve a 43% aggregate reduction in carbon emissions from the levels set in 2010.

SBEMv5.2 has been adopted as the new method of calculation with this now including concurrent (2015) specifications for the notional building used to calculate the target emissions level.

The scope of non-domestic buildings that must be considered under Section 6 has also been increased with extensions over 100m2 that are also greater than 25% of the original floor area now also having to be considered under this standard.


Outwith the main Section 6 changes, there are also revisions that reflect the increased requirement for new homes to not only be more accessible but also have the flexibility to allow changes to be made to suit occupants changing circumstances, with additional guidance provided for areas such as enhanced apartments, robust wall construction in accessible bathrooms and for future shower provision.


At ORA we believe that our record of working on projects that are constructed to an enhanced specification, whether it be a Housing Association seeking to improve the efficiency of their housing stock or a private client looking to build to Passivhaus standard, means that we already have a good understanding of these new regulations and the challenges that they may initially create as they come in to force.