Code for Sustainable Homes

What is the Code for Sustainable Homes?

The code for sustainable homes has been developed by the UK Government in order to encourage a more sustainable building practice for new homes.

The code measures the sustainability of a home against a set of design categories and rates the whole house as a complete package.  A rating system from one (entry level) to six (exemplary) is applied using stars to convey the overall sustainability performance of a home. 

Minimum standards must be achieved for energy and water at each level with additional points achieved for other design features.

The sustainability assessment will be carried out at two stages of the build process:

  • The first stage is at initial design, where a recommended sustainability rating will be awarded via an interim Code certificate.
  • The second stage is post completion of the build and sample checks are undertaken and a final certificate issued to show the overall sustainability rating for the home.

Where is the Code for Sustainable Homes required?

In September 2010 it became mandatory for all new build homes (both private and public) approved under 2010 building regulations to be built to a minimum of Code level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

For some time homes funded or sponsored by the Homes and Communities agency (HCA,) the Welsh Assembly Government or Social Housing in Northern Ireland have been required to be built to a minimum of Code level 3 of the Code for Sustainable homes.

Why was Code for Sustainable Homes introduced?

Scientific evidence has shown that climate change is a serious and urgent issue and in order to help overcome the issues under their Carbon Plan, the Coalition Government have committed to halving greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, on 1990 levels by 2020.

Research has established that more than a quarter of the UK's carbon emissions will come from the energy we use to heat, light and run our homes. The Code for Sustainable Homes will play a role in ensuring we build a future housing stock that both reduces our energy consumption and protects the environment. With minimum standards for energy efficiency at each level of the Code, there will be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to the environment.

What are the benefits of having an energy efficient home?

The obvious and most important answer is of course the protection of our planet and its future.

A home built to the Code for Sustainable Homes will have been built to achieve a greater energy and water efficiency to that of a home not built to the Code standard. As a result, a home that is built to the Code for Sustainable homes will have lower running costs.

Fuel poverty is becoming ever increasingly important, rising energy prices at a higher rate than income along with the poor energy efficiency of Britain's ageing housing stock, resulted in 4.75 million households being in fuel poverty in 2010. Building more homes to the Code for Sustainable Homes with lower energy consumption and running costs will help towards reducing fuel poverty.

Homes built to Code standard are also expected to provide a more pleasant and healthier place to live, which in turn will improve the well-being of its occupants. 

How does ventilation fit into the code for sustainable homes?

Ventilation products including Mechanical Heat Recovery are used to gain additional points in SAP. SAP is the Governments Standard Assessment Procedure for Energy Rating of Dwellings and is used as part of the Code for Sustainable Homes assessment.

To find out more about SAP, visit our SAP Information page.

If you would like to know more about The Code for Sustainable Homes, we recommend visiting the Planning Portal Website.