The Code for Sustainable Homes is an essential read for anyone considering a sustainable home building project. In its own words:
The Code for Sustainable Homes has been introduced to drive a step-change
in sustainable home building practice. It is a standard for key elements of
design and construction which affect the sustainability of a new home.
It is under-pined by heavy-weight research having being built upon the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) EcoHomes System.
How does the code work?
The code seeks to achieve improvements to levels of sustainability in home building through the establishment of minimum standards for energy and water efficiency, the provision of a simple points based rating system for enumerating levels of sustainability and extending the scope of the code into areas such as composting and ‘lifetime’ issues of the home such as accessibility and adaptability.
The rating system allows for the allocation of an overall one to six stars to communicate the sustainability level of a home. The overall score is built up from sub-scores in nine broad design categories, these are:
- Surface water run-off
- Health and well-being
Energy/CO2 & Water have minimum levels that must be achieved at each of the six levels of the code. Materials, Surface water run-off & Waste have a minimum level that must be attained to allow entry into the code at all.
Briefly, assessment of a number of issues defined by the code within each category allows the allocation of a number of points and from these points the overall star rating is derived. For example, in the Energy/CO2 category points are scored through taking measures such as utilising renewable or low carbon energy sources and also through the provision of bicycle storage or a home office.
The code has high hopes for itself, aiming to provide environmental benefits with a positive impact on climate change and a reduction in the environmental impact of building. Additionally, benefit to builders by providing a flexible mark of quality and greater direction in terms of future regulations and to home-owners through lower running costs, improved comfort & satisfaction and generally more pleasant and healthier places to live.
Why should I use them?
Whilst providing a potential future gold standard for sustainable building (only time, implementation and experience will confirm or reject that statement), the code is useful at the design stage for both professionals and non-professionals in providing a design template and useful design patterns. The categories and issues of The Code for Sustainable Homes can be used in the same way as I’ve used design patterns , to help focus on detail and polish the overall design.
You should also note that all new homes, except those where ‘the initial notice, full plans or Building Notice have been received by the relevant Local Authority Building Control body prior to 1st May 2008’ will have to be rated against the code.