The code for sustainable homes was devised by the Building Research Establishment on behalf of the UK government who are committed to addressing both the causes and consequences of climate change.
Building sustainable homes involves minimising all sorts of environmental impacts in addition to carbon dioxide emissions such as water use, waste generated and materials for building.
The code provides a comprehensive measure of the sustainability of new homes, ensuring that sustainable homes deliver real improvements in key areas such as carbon dioxide emissions and water use.
Since 1st May 2008 it has become mandatory for all new homes to have a code rating. The code is implemented via the UK planning system and it is now common for planning permissions to include a condition relating to the code level to be achieved for the permitted new dwelling.
There are six code for sustainable homes levels (1 to 6) where code 6 is the best rating and is termed ‘zero carbon’ and the government has said that all new homes will be level 6 after 2016. It uses a point based system with the sum total of the points achieved converted into a star rating system, which ranges from level 1 (36 points) to level 6 (90 points).
To achieve this goal, a ‘step change’ approach has been adopted whereby higher ratings will be demanded every three years i.e. 2010, 2013 and finally 2016. Code level 3 or 4 is the usual current rating demanded for new detached homes.
The code covers 9 categories of sustainable design, as follows:
Category 1 – Energy/CO2
Category 2 – Water
Category 3 – Materials
Category 4 – Surface Water Run-off
Category 5 – Waste
Category 6 – Pollution
Category 7 – Health and well-being
Category 8 – Management
Category 9 – Ecology
It is the responsibility of the new home owner to ensure compliance with the code level stated in the planning consent notice. The assessments need to be carried out by qualified assessors with a list of local registered assessors to be available from the BRE or any local planning authority.
Code assessment involves design and post construction stages. Therefore, for optimal results, the process should be started prior to design work starting.
A code rating certificate will only be issued once the post construction stage has been assessed. The certificate will show the actual level achieved which may be more or less than the target level stated in the planning permission. If less, the home owner will be in breach of their planning permission and remedial action will have to be taken.
We understand that for self builders achieving code compliance is a tricky business but we can recommend consultants that have the expertise to ensure our customers’ new homes achieve the desired Code levels. Benjamin Allen is able to offer customers help and guidance with the process but we are not able to carry out Code assessment in-house – this is best carried by a qualified assessor. We offer a building envelope that is designed to contribute to the energy section of the code and aimed at achieving levels 3 and 4.
If you require more information with regards to the Code for Sustainable Homes please contact Benjamin Allen.