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.

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