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Will the Code for Sustainable Homes be scrapped or revised?

So what does this mean for housing developments going forward? Here are some of the key facts.

This all stems from the Housing Standards Review (HSR) which was formed as part of the Red Tape Challenge – a far-reaching Government initiative to get rid of unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy from all departments in Westminster.

One of the main focus points of the HSR is what to do with the Code for Sustainable Homes. This is an additional requirement over Building Regulations which is requested by some local authorities and housing associations as part of their funding agreements.

The Code requires developers to meet additional energy saving measures, and also looks at items which aren't covered in the Approved Documents; such as sustainable source materials, surface water run-off, ecology and construction site waste management.

Given the nature of a Code assessment, there are a lot of reports, commitments and paperwork which need to be collected, not to mention the associated cost of building to the CSH. So it’s understandable that an initiative such as the Red Tape Challenge would take an interest in looking to streamline such a process.

The Housing Standards Review has recently published a set of recommendations and comments about where it sees the Code in the future… and the answer seems to point to the mainstream.

If we take the Energy section of the Code (ENE) as an example…

Tighter Target Emission Rates and the introduction of a Target Fabric Energy Efficiency into Building Regulations from next April means the current minimum targets for the ENE1 and ENE2 sections of the Code are going to be superseded by the norm, and ENE7 (the requirement for renewable technologies) will become more common as developers begin to incorporate such devices into their projects.

Planners are being encouraged by Eric Pickles to consider things such as suitable cycle storage (ENE8) and home office space (ENE9)... Smart energy meters for electricity and gas are being phased in across the UK – that covers ENE3… and the efficiency of kitchen white goods is getting better and better with every new range launched – that covers ENE5.

So we will soon be in a situation where most of the ENE section of the Code is common practice, unless the requirements for achieving ENE credits are ramped up in a future update. An update to CSH is now well overdue, but there’s no sign of this happening.

But allowing Part L to overtake the Code requirements isn’t the only issue which is causing uncertainty… the Housing Standards Review has also recommended that local councils should not be allowed to set their own emission targets on new developments which go above and beyond the requirement of Part L.

If such a recommendation was brought into place (and there seems to be a lot of political heavyweights opposing this), then this could put an end to councils requesting CSH, as well as Energy Statements, Feasibility Studies and any other energy / emissions targets imposed at a local level.

That’s where we are today – the next step is for the consultation and recommendations to be discussed and agreed upon. This could mean a revised, updated CSH is released in the future… this could mean that CSH is scrapped… this could mean a more streamlined, simplified version of the Code is introduced.

Until we have official details, we won’t speculate. But if you have an existing commitment to build to the CSH it is still binding and can’t be ignored. We’ll keep you informed of any changes as and when we hear them.

You can keep up to date with all the changes to Code and Part L as they happen via Twitter @EnergistUK and the UK Building Regulations Network on LinkedIn.
Jon Ponting

Author: Jon Ponting

This article was published by Jon Ponting on 16.12.2013.