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Introduction to the Code for Sustainable Homes

Why is the Code needed?

The Stern Review has shown that climate change is now a serious and immediate issue. In 2004 more than a quarter of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions, a major cause of climate change came from the energy we use to heat, light and run our homes. From now on, it is vital that the new homes we build use energy efficiently and are built in a way that helps to reduce harmful emissions.

What is the Code for Sustainable Homes?

The Code for Sustainable Homes has been introduced to drive a ‘step-change’ in sustainable home building practice. Prepared by the Government working closely with building industry bodies and research organisations it is intended as a single, national standard to guide industry in the design and construction of sustainable homes. It will measure the sustainability of a home against design categories, rating the whole home as a complete package. The categories included are:

• Energy/CO2

• Water

• Materials

• Surface water run-off

• Waste

• Pollution

• Health and well-being

• Management

• Ecology

How does the Code work?

• The Code uses a sustainability rating system indicated by stars to communicate the overall sustainability performance of a home. A home can achieve a rating from one to six stars, depending upon the extent to which it has achieved Code standards.

• Minimum standards exist for a number of categories, which must be achieved to obtain any Code rating.

• Apart from these minimum requirements, developers are free to choose which and how many standards they implement to obtain sustainability star ratings.

• The assessment process will be transparent and rigorous and carried out by accredited independent assessors. They will perform design stage assessments, recommend a rating and issue an interim Code certificate. A post completion check will follow. This need only be done for each house type within a development. Follow up sample checks will also be made.

For the full Code for Sustainable Homes document, please click herefor the Communities and Local Government Website.

What are the benefits for the Environment?

• Reduces greenhouse gas emissions with minimum standards for energy efficiency at each level of the Code, there will be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to the environment. This will enable us to reduce the threat from climate change.

• Better adaptation to climate change the Building Regulations (approved Document L – 20010) already limit the effects of solar gains in summer. With minimum standards for water efficiency at each level of the Code and other measures such as better management of surface water run-off, our future housing stock will be better adapted to cope with the already inevitable impacts of climate change.

• Reduces impact on the environment overall, inclusion of measures which, for example, promote the use of less polluting materials and encourage household recycling, this will ensure that our future housing stock has a reduced effect on the environment overall.

Benefits for Home Builders

• There is a growing appetite among consumers for more sustainable products and services. The Code for Sustainable Homes can be used by home builders to demonstrate the sustainability performance of their homes and to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

• Regulatory certainty – The levels of performance for energy efficiency indicate the future direction of building regulations, bringing greater regulatory certainty for home builders, and acting as a guide to support effective business and investment planning.

• Flexibility – The Code is based on performance which means it sets levels for sustainability performance against each element but does not prescribe how to achieve each level. Home builders can innovate to find cost effective solutions to meet and exceed minimum requirements.

What are the benefits for Social Housing providers?

• Homes built to the Code standard will have lower running costs through greater energy and water efficiency than homes that aren’t built to Code standards.

• Homes built to the Code will enhance the comfort and satisfaction of tenants. Costs may be saved in dealing with complaints.

• The Code will enable Social Housing providers to demonstrate their sustainability credentials to the public, tenants and to funding bodies.

Benefits for Consumers

• The Code will provide valuable information to homebuyers on the sustainability performance of different homes, helping them in the choice of their new home.

• By asking for a new home which meets the Code standard, consumers will be able to encourage the building industry to build more sustainable homes and reduce their own ‘footprint’ on the environment.

• Homes built to the Code standard will have lower running costs through greater energy and water efficiency than homes not built to the Code standard, so helping to reduce fuel poverty.

• Homes built to the Code standard will provide a more pleasant and healthy place to live, for example with more natural light, and adaptability for future needs.

To read our full review of the Code for Sustainable Homes click here for part 1 and and for Part 2, click here.

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