Code for Sustainable Homes
Topic of the practice
Standard for sustainable construction and assessment method for housing projects.
Good Practice Information
The Code for Sustainable Homes was introduced in the UK in April 2007 as a voluntary national standard to improve the overall sustainability of new homes by setting a single framework within which the home building industry can design and construct homes to higher environmental standards. The main problem addressed by the Code is related to the widespread failure to meet targets for sustainable construction and refurbishment: 80% of projects would fail to meet the required environmental assessment standards (report by the National Audit Office in UK, 2006).
The Code gives new homebuyers information about the environmental impact of their new home and its potential running costs. It measures the sustainability of a home against nine design categories (Energy and CO2 emissions; water; materials; surface water run-off; waste; pollution; health and wellbeing; management; ecology), rating the ‘whole home’ as a complete package. A home can achieve a sustainability rating from one to six stars depending on the extent to which it has achieved Code standards. One star is the entry level – above the level of the Building Regulations, and six stars the highest level – reflecting exemplar development in sustainability terms. Assessment procedures are based on BRE Global Limited’s EcoHomes System which depends on a network of specifically trained and accredited independent assessors. The CSH became essential UK-wide national standard in 2011.
Code assessments are normally carried out in two stages: (1) design stage, leading to an interim certificate; (2) post construction stage, leading to a final certificate. If there has been no prior design stage assessment, then the full assessment shall be completed against the as-built dwelling(s).
TRANSFERABILITY: A step-change in sustainable home building practice became operational in April 2007. Wherever building regulations apply, compliance with the Code is necessary. In the FRESH project all partner regions are importing the Code for Sustainable Homes.
Evidence of success
The Code for Sustainable Homes became an essential standard in 2011 (i.e. it is not any more a preferred standard) and this is a clear indication of its usefulness. Besides that, there have been repeated evaluations. The results indicate that the required level 3 in the scale of the Code for Sustainable Homes leads to sustainable housing. The costs of construction, especially in the pilot projects (i.e. creation of prototypes included), are higher than for usual construction but the selling prices (in case of private housing development) proved competitive. Case studies indicate that the innovative effect of the Code is when a housing project aims at least level 4 and higher up to 6 on the grading scale. Intermediate evaluations have also indicated that the application of the Code impacts positively the competences and expetise of the construction sector; from the point of view of skills of architects, engineers and accredited assessors.
Contact details to obtain further information on the practice
Institute for Sustainability
Annex completed on: 03-23-2011