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.
- 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.
|% Improvement 2013 DER/TER England||Credits||Mandatory Requirements|
|≥ 19%||3||Level 4|
|≥ 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.
|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.
- 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?