Code for Sustainable Homes

The Code for Sustainable Homes is an environmental assessment method for rating and certifying the performance of new homes in United Kingdom. First introduced in 2006, 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. In 2015 the Government in England has withdrawn it, consolidating some standards into Building Regulations.


The Code was officially launched in December 2006, and was introduced as a voluntary standard in England in 2007. It complemented the system of Energy Performance Certificates for new homes introduced in 2008 under the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, and built on recent changes to Building Regulations in England and Wales.

The Government-owned scheme was a successor to the BRE EcoHomes scheme first used in 2000. BRE managed and developed the technical contents of the Code standard for and on behalf of the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

In 2015 with the winding down of the Government-owned Code for Sustainable Homes in England BRE launched the new consumer facing scheme the Home Quality Mark in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. [1]


The Code works by awarding new homes a rating from Level 1 to Level 6, based on their performance against nine sustainability criteria which are combined to assess the overall environmental impact. Level 1 was 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.


There are simple and inexpensive methods of gaining credits, like specifying compost and recycling bins, and costly methods such as installing solar photovoltaics.

Compliance with higher levels of the Code is voluntary, with a long-term view for step-change increases. Landowners and agents sell sites with stipulations to build at certain Code levels.

The extra-over cost of building to Code Level 3 was valued around £2000-3000. Additionally the Code assessment cost around £2000 for a small project. The total cost was typically under 5% of a standard build.[2]

Code levels pertaining to energy required a Dwelling Emission Rate (DER) a certain percentage higher 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. Following this change Code level 4 required 25% DER improvement over Part L1A 2010 TER standards and code level 5 required a 100% improvement i.e. thermally twice as efficient. It was also anticipated that the Building Regulations as well as the minimum mandatory Code level would continue to improve until the 2016 target of 'net zero CO2 emissions' was met. Guidance was 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,[3] and by the Association for Environment Conscious Building for including 'whole house’ carbon emissions.[4] 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.[5][6] Other reactions were generally welcoming, but with some reservations.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] The Construction Products Association criticised the original proposals as being confusing.[10] The Sustainable Development Commission was keen that the standard was extended to cover existing homes, and covered this and other recommendations in its report 'Stock Take'.[11]

In March 2014, the government announced plans to consolidate housing regulations and standards, including the scrapping of the Code for Sustainable Homes, with its some performance standards being integrated into the Building Regulations.[12]

Code for Sustainable Homes was withdrawn by Government in March 2015 for new developments. The Code continues to operate for "legacy developments" in England and in Wales and Northern Ireland [13]

See also

Compare to


  1. ^ "BRE Group: Housing Standards Review".
  2. ^ Code for Sustainable Homes: A Cost Review - Planning, building and the environment - Department for Communities and Local Government, 12 March 2010
  3. ^ Foundations are laid for a more sustainable future published 2006-12-13, accessed 2011-10-05
  4. ^ AECB congratulates the government Archived December 27, 2010, at WebCite
  5. ^ Housebuilder's Update: Drilling Down into the Code: Part 3 Mark Brinkley, published 2011-10-4, accessed 2011-10-5
  6. ^ Portal, Planning. "Planning Portal" (PDF).
  7. ^ Code for Sustainable Homes could be better Archived December 27, 2010, at WebCite
  8. ^ Archived December 27, 2010, at WebCite
  9. ^ Government fails to get UK’s house in order on Climate Change. | Article Search Results | WWF UK Archived December 27, 2010, at WebCite
  10. ^ "Go Green - Building for a Future" (PDF).
  11. ^ "Take: Delivering improvements in existing housing • Sustainable Development Commission".
  12. ^ "Housing review scraps Code but pledges space standard 'where needed', Construction Manager, 16 March 2014. Retrieved: 15 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Planning update March 2015".

External links

Artex Ltd.

Artex Ltd. is an English based manufacturer of building materials.


Norman C Ashton was a leading house builder in Yorkshire in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Association for Environment Conscious Building

The Association for Environment Conscious Building (AECB) is the leading network for sustainable building professionals in the United Kingdom. Membership of the AECB includes local authorities, housing associations, builders, architects, designers, consultants and manufacturers. The association was founded in 1989 to increase awareness within the construction industry of the need to respect, protect, preserve and enhance the environment and to develop, share and promote best practice in environmentally sustainable building.


BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), first published by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in 1990, is the world's longest established method of assessing, rating, and certifying the sustainability of buildings. More than 250,000 buildings have been BREEAM-certified and over a million are registered for certification – in more than 50 countries worldwide. BREEAM also has a tool which focuses on neighborhood development.

Civil Engineering Contractors Association

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) is a United Kingdom construction organisation. Headquartered in London, it was established in November 1996 to represent the interests of civil engineering contractors.

Its membership currently comprises over 350 companies, ranging from small regional businesses to companies operating across the UK and overseas. Collectively, CECA members account for 75-80% of civil engineering work undertaken in the UK.

Comben Homes

Comben Homes was a large British Housebuilder.

Construction Clients' Group

The Construction Clients' Group is a United Kingdom construction organisation representing major clients of the construction industry. It represents the views of clients to the Strategic Forum for Construction and other major industry forums.

Its members includes public and private sector organisations such as Highways England, Land Securities, Heathrow Airport, Department of Health and London Underground, responsible for significant annual investment in construction projects.

Creative Energy Homes

The Creative Energy Homes (CEH) project is a showcase of innovative state-of-the-art energy-efficient homes of the future. Seven homes constructed on the University Park Campus of the University of Nottingham are being designed and constructed to various degrees of innovation and flexibility to allow the testing of different aspects of modern methods of construction including layout and form, cladding materials, roof structures, foundations, glazing materials, thermal performance, building services systems, sustainable/renewable energy technologies, lighting systems, acoustics and water supply. The project aims to stimulate sustainable design ideas and promote new ways of providing affordable, environmentally sustainable housing that are innovative in their design. The homes are fully instrumented and occupied in order to provide comprehensive post occupancy evaluation data.


EcoHomes was an environmental rating scheme for homes in the United Kingdom. It was the domestic version of the Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method BREEAM, which could also be applied to a variety of non-residential buildings. It was replaced by the Code for Sustainable Homes in April 2008.

EcoHomes Assessments fall under one of four versions, Pre-2002, 2003, 2005 or the final 2006 version. It was not possible to compare homes built under one revision of the standard with homes built under another.

Good Homes Alliance

The Good Homes Alliance (GHA) is a UK organisation established in 2007 that grew to have over 70 members, including architects, planners, developers, universities, local authorities, urban designers, consultants, building professionals and suppliers whose stated aim is to build and promote sustainable homes and communities and to transform the whole of mainstream UK house building into a sustainable endeavour.It is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company with a board of Directors.

Members subscribe to a charter for responsible housebuilding containing seven principles.

The GHA considers the following actions are necessary to help bring a quality focus back to new housing:

New UK wide near-zero carbon targets for new homes should be re-implemented with a new trajectory and timetable

Housebuilders and Renewable Energy developers must work together to develop new cost effective strategies to meet the new carbon reduction targets

The Building Regulations Part L and F should be reviewed

The compliance system based on SAP and EPCs is not fit for purpose and a new system is required that addresses energy demand reduction targets and post-construction verification

The skills needed to achieve quality construction must be embedded at every stage from concept to completion and for all disciplines, trades and professions

The Quality Control process at every stage from concept to completion must be tightened up and improved

Inhabitants health and wellbeing must be embedded in all aspects of the design and construction processIn addition to promotion of member projects and inititatives the Alliance is involved in education (through seminars, research, and information sharing), lobbying Government and land owners to encourage better quality housing standards via regulation, legislation and specifications, and raising awareness of sustainable development in the media and among the general public.

It also organises specialist cross sector working groups and currently (July 2017) runs the following: alternative housing delivery models; overheating solutions in new housing; zero energy buildings.

Linford Group

The Linford Group was a construction company in England which specialised in the restoration of historic buildings. Its headquarters was in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

National Federation of Demolition Contractors

The National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC) is a United Kingdom construction trade association representing companies involved in demolition work.

The NFDC represents its sector as a trade association member of Build UK. Who provides both “Corporate Membership for demolition contractors and ISP Membership for industries supporting the demolition industry”

National House Building Council

The National House Building Council, usually known as the NHBC, states its primary purpose as raising the construction standards of new homes in the United Kingdom (UK), and providing consumer protection for homebuyers through its 10-year Buildmark warranty.Established in 1936, NHBC is the UK's largest provider of new home warranties. According to NHBC's website, around 80% of new homes built in the UK each year have an NHBC 10-year warranty. NHBC is also the UK's largest single Approved Inspector for Building Regulations. Its other activities include the provision of services linked to house building and general construction; including energy ratings, health and safety, sustainability, and training. It also provides industry statistics and benchmarking services.

The NHBC is a non-profit distributing company, so reinvests 'profit' in its activities to improve the quality of new homes to protect the interests of homeowners.

NHBC is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

Scottish Building Federation

The Scottish Building Federation (SBF) is a United Kingdom construction organisation representing employers in the Scottish construction industry.

The SBF was established in 1895, and aims to raise awareness of the importance of the construction industry in Scotland. With a headquarters in Edinburgh, it comprises 16 regional associations, and represents around 700 companies.

The SBF was one of the founders of the Construction Alliance.

Society of Construction Arbitrators

The Society of Construction Arbitrators is a learned society of arbitrators, adjudicators and mediators in the construction industry, based in London. It has as its object the development and support of commercial methods of alternative dispute resolution. Members of the Society include architects, engineers, surveyors and lawyers from around the world.

Sweett Group

Sweett Group, formerly known as Cyril Sweett, is an international physical assets management consultancy. It is part of Currie & Brown.

Tarmac Building Products

Tarmac Building Products is a British producer of building products, based in Wolverhampton. The company was formerly part of the Tarmac Group, but was bought in 2014 by the joint venture of Lafarge and Tarmac's parent Anglo American, Lafarge Tarmac. Lafarge Tarmac was subsequently sold to CRH plc in August 2015 and rebranded as Tarmac.

UK Green Building Council

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) is a United Kingdom membership organisation, formed in 2007, which aims to 'radically transform' the way that the built environment in the UK is planned, designed, constructed, maintained and operated.

The Council is concerned about the environmental impact of buildings and infrastructure on the environment, in particular the use of water, materials, energy, the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, and the health of building occupants.

William Leech PLC

William Leech PLC was a major Tyneside housebuilder.

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