Code for Sustainable Homes
The Code for Sustainable Homes is an environmental assessment method for rating and certifying the performance of new homes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is a national standard for use in the design and construction of new homes with a view to encouraging continuous improvement in sustainable home building.
The code works by awarding new homes a rating from Level 1 to Level 6, based on their performance against 9 sustainability criteria which are combined to assess the overall environmental impact. Level 1 is entry level above building regulations, and Level six is the highest, reflecting exemplary developments in terms of sustainability.
The sustainability criteria by which new homes are measured are:
- Energy and CO2 Emissions – Operational Energy and resulting emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere (different minimum standards that must be met at each level of the Code)
- Water – Internal and external water saving measures specified (minimum standards that must be met at each level of the Code).
- Materials – The sourcing and environmental impact of materials used to build the home (minimum standards present).
- Surface Water Run-off – Management of surface water run-off from the development and flood risk (minimum standards present).
- Waste – Storage for recyclable waste and compost, and care taken to reduce, reuse and recycle construction materials (minimum standards present).
- Pollution – The use of insulation materials and heating systems that do not add to global warming.
- Health and Well-Being – Provision of good daylight quality, sound insulation, private space, accessibility, and adaptability(minimum standards present for Code Level 6 only).
- Management – A Home User Guide, designing in security, and reducing the impact of construction.
- Ecology – Protection and enhancement of the ecology of the area and efficient use of building land.
The Code is a 6 level rating system with credits in a broad range of categories from water use to occupant health. There are simple and inexpensive methods of gaining credits, like specifying compost and recycling bins, and costly methods such as installing solar photovoltaics.
Currently, compliance with higher levels of the Code is voluntary, with a long-term view for step-change increases. However, landowners and agents are already selling sites with stipulations to build at a certain Code level.
The extra-over cost of building to Code Level 3 is valued between around £2000-3000 when averaged across a large development, additionally the Code assessment costs around £4000 for a small project, the total cost of this is typically over 4% of a standard build, and when taken in hand with local authority fees for "blackmail" clauses can well end up with 75% of any equity being "taken" from the developer, but this is made light of in official government publications 
Code levels pertaining to energy require a Dwelling Emission Rate (DER) a certain percentage lower than the Target Emission Rate (TER) as set in Part L1A of the Building Regulations. The October 2010 version of the Code saw Part L 2010 TER standards rise equivalent to Code Level 3. Since this change Code Level 4 requires 25% DER improvement over Part L1A 2010 TER standards and Code Level 5 requires 100% improvement i.e. thermally twice as efficient. It is also anticipated that the Building Regulations as well as the minimum mandatory Code level will continue to improve until the 2016 target of 'net zero CO2 emissions' is met. Guidance is also available via the Code's simply explained published document to clarify the technical requirements.
The scheme was welcomed by the WWF for putting zero carbon development at the top of the industry agenda, and by the Association for Environment Conscious Building for including 'whole house’ carbon emissions. Despite these positive reactions, even a zero carbon building would only achieve Level 1 of the Code unless further measures are taken to comply with other requirements. Other reactions were generally welcoming, but with some reservations.
Views of the scheme were not always so positive; early drafts were heavily criticised by industry commentators, both for being unnecessary (due to it being apparently modelled on the existing EcoHomes scheme) and due to its contents. In March 2011 the WWF representative on the Steering Group resigned "in despair" due to the failure of government to accept the Steering Group's advice and recommendations. The Construction Products Association criticised the original proposals as being confusing. The Sustainable Development Commission is keen that the standard is extended to cover existing homes, and covers this and other recommendations in its report 'Stock Take'.
The biggest criticism of the code for sustainable homes is the way the funding for all the changes has to be paid for by the developer. All the aspects of assessment are kept as a "closed shop" whereby the individual does not have access to the means of calculating all the data and passing the code assessment by themselves. The calculation methodologies are kept as proprietary by the CSH establishment for use for paying customers. In short, the CSH is not just making sure developers reach a certain standard when building homes, it ensures that the developers must pay for the CSH standards institute monopoly by restricting the access to information.
- Communities and Local Government
- Association for Environment Conscious Building
- Energy efficiency in British housing
- Good Homes Alliance
- Green building
- Low Carbon Building Programme
- Sustainable design
- Sustainable development
- UK Green Building Council
- The Code Store
- Energycount Limited
- LEED Buildings
- Sadler Energy
- Waterford Hamel Code for Sustainable Homes Level six development
- Code for Sustainable Homes: A Cost Review - Planning, building and the environment - Department for Communities and Local Government Archived 27 December 2010 at WebCite
- Foundations are laid for a more sustainable future published 2006-12-13, accessed 2011-10-05
- AECB congratulates the government Archived 27 December 2010 at WebCite
- Housebuilder's Update: Drilling Down into the Code: Part 3 Mark Brinkley, published 2011-10-4, accessed 2011-10-5
- Code for Sustainable Homes
- Code for Sustainable Homes could be better Archived 27 December 2010 at WebCite
- http://www.buildingforafuture.co.uk/spring06/CSB.pdf Archived 27 December 2010 at WebCite
- Government fails to get UK’s house in order on Climate Change. | Article Search Results | WWF UK Archived 27 December 2010 at WebCite
- http://www.buildingforafuture.co.uk/spring06/1-24.pdf Archived 27 December 2010 at WebCite
- Stock Take: Delivering improvements in existing housing · Sustainable Development Commission Archived 27 December 2010 at WebCite