The Code for Sustainable Homes

The Code for Sustainable Homes

The Code for Sustainable Homes (the Code) was introduced in England in April 2007 and is the Government’s environmental assessment rating for new homes. It is a voluntary standard designed to improve sustainability by reducing the carbon emissions created by new homes.

The Code enables developers to provide evidence to homebuyers of the sustainability performance of their homes, particularly important as the public are becoming more concerned with the effect their homes are having on climate change and want homes with a reduced environmental impact and lower running costs.

The minimum standards for Code compliance are much more demanding than the minimum standard needed to satisfy Building Regulations and more and more local authorities are requiring self-builders to comply with Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. However, each individual local authority’s planning policy will decide on the level of Code required.

The Code measures the sustainability of new homes against nine categories:

Energy/CO2 emissions.



Surface water run-off;



Health and well-being;



These categories have been selected for their potential impact on the environment. Some elements are mandatory for compliance; others are optional.

The Code uses a 1 to 6 star rating system depending on the extent to which the build has achieved Code standards, with six stars being the highest level. Credits are given when each performance requirement is achieved, 57 credits are needed for Level 3, 68 for Level 4 and 84 for Level 5. However there are four un-credited mandatory requirements which must be achieved to gain a one star sustainability rating.

These are:

• Environmental impacts of materials

• Management of surface water run-off from developments

• Storage of non recyclable waste and recyclable household waste

• Construction site waste management.

Once the mandatory minimum performance standard has been met for the four un-credited ‘issues’, two further mandatory requirements need to be considered.

Apart from these minimum requirements the Code is completely flexible and other credits can be chosen or traded from other ‘issues’, in order to achieve a higher sustainability rating.

When the build is complete, a post-completion check is undertaken and a certificate will be given to the developer which shows results of the Code assessment and provides a breakdown of how that rating has been achieved. Homes that have not been assessed will have a nil-rated certificate.

CDM Changes

On 6 April 2015, new CDM Regulations will come into force which will replace the 2007 Regulations. For the first time, the CDM regulations will apply to all projects including domestic jobs. Small and medium size construction projects will now have to provide a written construction phase plan and manage health and safety.
The new regulations will also provide greater clarity, so that all parties involved in a project will have a better understanding of their roles in ensuring a safe construction site.
Principle Designer
The CDM co-ordinator role in the previous CDM Regs 2007 has now been replaced with a new role of principal designer. This means that a member of the design team will be responsible for coordinating the pre-construction phase.
Where more than one contractor is involved on a project, a principal designer and a principal contractor will need to be appointed.  While the 2007 regs saw the CDM coordinator role as primarily a pre-construction role, the new regulations will ensure the principal designer and contractor work together during the design phase and throughout the build to completion. This will provide more consistency and continuity, essential to the management of any successful construction project.
The client is considered to have the most influence and responsibility as the head of the supply. The client is responsible for budget setting, providing a skilled team as well as ensuring good standards of health and safety throughout the construction project. The new Regulations recognise this and the client’s duties are now described as ‘must do’.

The client, principal designer and contractor and any other duty holders must ensure that all persons they appoint have the right skills, knowledge, training and experience to fulfil their functions.
For clarity and ease of assessment this will be divided into the categories of skills, knowledge, training and experience and organisational capability (if applicable).

Health and safety
The client must make sure that a good level of health and safety is in place at the start and maintained throughout the project. The HSE has produced draft legal series guidance (L153) on the legal requirements for CDM 2015. These aim to reduce the number of accidents on construction sites particularly on smaller projects where there is greater cause for concern.