2014 Changes to the Code for Sustainable Homes

Code for Sustainable Homes

On 30th May, the Government published an addendum to bring the Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH) into line with recent regulatory and national guidance. This blog outlines the main changes.

There are transitional arrangements, but the practical upshot is that if regulatory compliance is to SAP 2012, than the new 2014 CfSH addendum should be followed (with evidence based on SAP2012 calculations); if the site was registered under Part L 2010, then the code assessment should be still registered to the November 2010 guidance (although you will be asked for evidence to this effect – otherwise you would need to follow the 2014 addendum).
From 6 April 2014, it is no longer possible to register new schemes against Part L version 2010, except:
  • where work has already (physically) commenced before 6 April 2014, or
  • where a building notice, full plans, initial notice or plans certificate has been given to a local authority before 6 April 2014 and carried out in accordance with the plans or notice given, so long as the work is commenced by 6 April 2015.
The changes overall are minimal from an energy efficiency point of view, but the key issues are outlined below:
Dwelling Emission Rate Credits (ENE1)
The amended guidance  continues to award credits for performance above the minimum requirements of Building Regulations but this is now based on Approved Document L1A 2013 England, so overall 6% harder to achieve than previously (on aggregate). The mandatory levels of Code Levels 4, 5 and 6 remain comparable to previous versions (25% better than L1A 2010 is roughly equivelent to 19% better than L1A 2013). The credits available below Code Level 4 have been compressed and re-aligned to maintain a smooth uplift over the TER.
% Improvement 2013 DER/TER England Credits Mandatory Requirements
≥ 6% 1
≥ 12% 2
≥ 19% 3  Level 4
≥ 32% 4
≥ 44% 5
≥ 56% 6
≥ 70% 7
≥ 84% 8
≥ 100% 9 Level 5
Zero Net CO2 Emissions 10 Level 6

This means that all the work previously undertaken by Industry looking at Code 4 compliance (for social housing most commonly thus far), is not invalidated, and still should be useful when considering how to achieve that level.

It’s interesting to note that the definition of zero carbon for 2016 appears to still not be fixed as of this 2014 addendum!

Fabric Energy Efficiency Credits (ENE2)
The Fabric Energy Efficiency criteria remains broadly the same as in the November 2010 version.

Dwelling Type 
Credits
Mandatory Levels
Apartment Blocks, Mid-Terrace End Terrace, Semi-Detached & Detached
Fabric Energy Efficiency (kWh/m²/year)  L1A 2013 TFEE target minimum
≤ 48 ≤ 60 3
≤ 45 ≤ 55 4
≤ 43 ≤ 52 5
≤ 41 ≤ 49 6
≤ 39 ≤ 46 7 Levels 5 & 6
≤ 35 ≤ 42 8
≤ 32 ≤ 38 9

The Code will continue to award credits for efficient house types based on good building fabric performance using the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard (FEES). The Approved Document is based upon the ‘notional dwelling’, whilst the criteria in this category is based upon ‘absolute performance’. Credits can only be awarded when the Target Fabric Energy Efficiency (TFEE) requirement for Building Regulations has been met – bettering this level will achieve additional credits under the code addendum.

Other changes:

  • There are also some minor changes to lighting (ENE 6) and the calculation for ENE7;
  • Minor amendments to SUR1 and SUR2 due to the referenced technical standard being replaced;
  • WAS2 (Site Waste Management Plans reference) and MAN2 sections (Change to SAP2012 and NOx emissions from grid electricity)  have also been slightly revised.

The credits requirements for the above are not meaningfully affected.

The future of the Code?

The changes in the new amendment document are not huge; there is no major reworking or substantial reboot, just a realignment with recent changes to building regulations and the associated changes in SAP. Presumably the Code will become more of a voluntary thing going forward. Following the Housing Standards review,  Local Authorities presumably won’t be able to mandate higher energy efficiency standards as a requirement for approval – the Government want’s more housebuilding after all.

Whether the Code has a continuing role or not will be interesting to follow.  I believe that a nationally agreed yardstick against which merit can be shown is important as it allows builders and designers a means to show a potential buyer that the house that they are buying has been designed and built to a better, more sustainable and more efficient level than another.

Allowable solutions may in future allow two houses to both be considered near zero, but one might achieve that label by doing the regulatory minimum and then paying into a fund to make up the shortfall in carbon savings; another housebuilder or designer might choose to do it all (or most of it) on site. The first dwelling may not have considered sustainability of materials used important, not considered its construction waste, associated pollution and emissions, its ecological impact, or the health and well being of its occupants; the other dwelling built to the codes higher standards, will have considered these things and given a prospective purchaser a much better, more sustainable home as a result.

In order for the Code to have a place in the future, more than anything consumers (house purchasers) will need to start valuing better performing, more sustainably built houses – but do they?  and if they don’t, who will build them?

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About

Jon Ducker is a qualified energy assessor working for Kingspan Insulation Ltd. He has an extensive knowledge of energy efficiency, renewable energy systems and sustainability in buildings with an expert knowledge of the relevant sections of buildings regulations and standards and their interactions with SAP. He provides authoritative advice regarding energy assessments for a wide range of public and private sector clients.

0 comments on “2014 Changes to the Code for Sustainable Homes
  1. I am a Planning Officer with Dacorum Borough Council. We have a policy that seeks to ensure residential schemes of over 5 dwellings achieve a minimum of Code Level 4 (or equivalent) plus 5% CO2 reductions, but only when the next update to Part L 2010 is published that is equivalent to Code Level 4. This was expected to be Part L 2013 but we know it falls short. However, I am unclear by how much it actually falls short. Our Building Control department is unable to help and I’m not sure if I am interpreting the Table “Dwelling Emission Rate Credits (ENE1)” correctly as it doesn’t show Code Level 3 (which I believe was equivalent to Part L 2010) for comparison. Where does Part L 2013 sit exactly in relation to Code Level 3 and 4? Is it half way between or somewhat less than this, or more?

    • Part L 2013 (for England), taken across the domestic build mix is a 6% on aggregate improvement over Part L 2010 (Which was indeed roughly akin to the building fabric Code 3 level, but without any of the other requirements of the Code.

      For Wales Part L which came into force in 2014, they targetted around the same overall levels, but on aggregate for their build mix are around 8% better than Part L 2010 levels.

      Code 4 of the Code is 19% better than Part L1A (2013) levels / or 25% better than Part L1A 2010 levels depending on how you look at it.

      Current proposed levels for the 2016 English domestic on site building performance is for the Code 4 level to be the target, but this may depend on what happens at the next election.

      Hope the above helps.

      Jon Ducker
      Energy Assessment Manager

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