The code for sustainable homes

In case anyone didn’t know, the Code For Sustainable Homes is a government led ratings system to identify how well a building performs in terms of sustainability. Sustainability being a loosely used word to describe how ‘good’ the home is. As a home builder, you get different points for implementing different features, with everything from water run off to the size of your recycling bin covered.

Interesting highlights are getting 4.9 points (which is a lot) for ‘major improvements’ to the local ecology. This will sit well with permaculturists and urban idealists like Zhao Benfu who’d like to see more wilderness, food, and greenery being grown in our cities.

The governments U-turn on Zero Carbon

It looks like the government has made a ‘u-turn’, as the UK Green Building Council put it, on their commitment to Zero Carbon Homes by 2016. The energy use by the tenant’s is no longer considered part of the zero carbon goal with house builders only being regulated on carbon emissions coming from fixed lighting, hot water, and building services.

9) The Government is announcing the regulatory requirements for zero carbon homes, to apply from 2016. To ensure that it remains viable to build new houses, the Government will hold housebuilders accountable only for those carbon dioxide emissions that are covered by Building Regulations, and will provide cost-effective means through which they can do this.

2.297 The UK needs to deliver carbon savings in order to meet the Carbon Budgets to which the Government is committed. This means that the carbon footprint of new homes cannot be allowed to add to overall carbon reduction burdens.

2.298 Building Regulations cover carbon dioxide emissions from energy use through heating, fixed lighting, hot water and building services. They do not cover emissions related to energy use from cooking or from plug-in electrical appliances such as computers, as these are beyond the influence of housebuilders and will be addressed by other policies, for example the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

2.299 The Government will introduce more realistic requirements for on-site carbon reductions, endorsing the Zero Carbon Hub’s expert recommendations on the appropriate levels of on-site reductions as the starting point for future consultation, along with their advice to move to an approach based on the carbon reductions that are achieved in real life, rather than those predicted by models. This will be complemented by cost-effective options for off-site carbon reductions, relative to the Government’s pricing of carbon, and Government will work with industry through consultation on how to take this forward.

2.300 This approach will deliver zero-carbon homes on a practical basis from 2016, with significantly reduced costs to industry, compared to previous proposals. Government will continue to work with industry on how the principle of its Green Deal scheme can be extended to new homes, enabling house builders to offset the upfront costs of building to more challenging carbon reduction standards.

Taken from the 2011 UK plan for growth.

So it looks like the Government are dedicated to reducing the emissions from grid energy so that new homes can use that energy without contributing carbon emissions? The ever shifting definition for zero carbon homes can be found at Zero Carbon Hub.