Zero carbon & Code for Sustainable Homes
In 2006 the Government announced its aim to make all new build homes zero carbon by 2016. This was supported by the Code for Sustainable Homes, the Planning Policy Statement on Climate Change and stamp duty relief for zero carbon homes. ‘The Interim Progress Report: Closing the gap between design and as-built performance’ provided up to date information on the progress made and outlined further objectives in achieving zero carbon homes by 2016.
In August 2013 the Government held an open consultation that decided the future of reaching zero carbon by 2016. It was called ‘Next steps to zero carbon homes: Allowable Solutions’. The Government accepted that not all carbon saving measures could be made on-site due to the technical and cost issues that in practice mean that it would not always be possible. The consultation set out and sought views and further evidence on the main principles and processes for the delivery of allowable solutions – off-site projects or measures that reduce carbon emissions. The consultation closed on 15 October 2013. Accompanying the consultation was an impact assessment report.
The Code for Sustainable Homes
The Code for Sustainable Homes was launched on 13 December 2006. The code applied to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The code was voluntary and the then Government stated that it had no intention to make the code mandatory.
The code could only be enforced where; local councils required compliance as per their planning policy and in affordable housing funded by the HCA (homes must be built to level 3). The level 3 energy standard was incorporated into the building regulations.
There were star ratings at six levels, with level one requiring thermal efficiency just above Part L 2006; level three being just above EcoHomes Very Good, and level six being 'zero carbon.' Each level had minimum standards for thermal and water efficiency plus minimum requirements for materials, surface water run-off and waste. For entry level there were additional categories dealing with pollution, health and wellbeing, management and technology.
The codes future became uncertain during the Government's Housing Standards Review which was announced in 2010. While the consultation document did not specifically dedicate a specific headline topic to the code, the overview did state (paragraph 40) that:
“With regard to the Code for Sustainable Homes, as already noted this has been considered as part of the review. Where there are significant issues for carrying forward, these have been reflected in the consultation proposals. In light of that, and the outcome of this consultation, the government proposes to wind down the role of the Code. We will put in place transitional arrangements to ensure that contractual commitments under the Code can be properly covered.”
The 2016 target and the code were withdrawn by Government in March 2015. The Code continues to operate for "legacy developments" in England and in Wales and Northern Ireland.