Zero carbon & sustainability

The Government is aiming to make all new build homes zero carbon by 2016. This will be 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’ provides up to date information the progress made so far and outlines further objectives in achieving zero carbon homes by 2016.

Currently, there is an open consultation that will decide the future of reaching zero carbon by 2016.  It is called ‘Next steps to zero carbon homes: Allowable Solutions’.  The Government accepts that not all carbon saving measures can be made on-site; there are technical and cost issues that in practice mean that it will not always be possible.  The consultation sets out and seeks 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 closes on the 15th October 2013.  Accompanying the consultation is an impact assessment report.

The Code for Sustainable Homes was launched on 13 December 2006.  The code applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The code is voluntary and the current Government has stated that it has no intention to make the code mandatory.

The code can only be enforced where; local councils require 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 is now incorporated into the building regulations.

There are 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 will have minimum standards for thermal and water efficiency plus minimum requirements for materials, surface water run-off and waste. For entry level there are additional categories dealing with pollution, health and wellbeing, management and technology.