What does the future hold for the Code for Sustainable Homes?

We are now just weeks away from finding out what the future could hold for the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) in England and Wales. There are rumours that the requirement for CSH could be reduced, or even phased out completely over the coming years.

Consultation papers are expected to be released in May, with the Government scheduled to publish a ‘plan of action’ by the end of July. It’s part of a much wider-reaching Government initiative known as The Red Tape Challenge. Since 2010 all kinds of bureaucracy from equality to health and safety have been scrutinised to look at how things can be made simpler for everyone. Part of this Red Tape Challenge includes the Housing Standards Review (HSR), which has been investigating ways of cutting some of the complexities which we currently find in the construction industry. The Code for Sustainable Homes is one such area which has been put under review.

It’s hoped the findings of the HSR will uncover ways of making CSH more viable for developers, to save time and money… but at an extreme level, it could be announced that CSH will be wound down, with key elements of the Code being brought into Part L instead. The upcoming changes to Part L are expected to include a Fabric Energy Efficiency target for the first time. This is currently only required for dwellings which are built to the Code.

Although details of the consultation have not been announced yet, rumours of the Code winding down have been fuelled by the following  statement from the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) which reads: “Regardless of the outcome of the review process, BRE and DCLG expect there will be a need for the CSH services to be maintained for a period to manage assessments, the pipeline of existing planning permissions, funding commitments currently in place, and so on.”

The Code for Sustainable Homes went live in 2007 as ‘a step-change in sustainable home building practice’. Six years on and it is still not required at a national level for private houses, with local authorities opting in or out as they see fit. The credit based assessment currently includes nine categories which covers topics like carbon emissions, water use, health and wellbeing and ecology. Evidence, such as pictures of recycle bin storage and official ecology reports, are required to sign off each section.

We’re keeping a close eye on The Red Tape Challenge, and will let you know about any significant recommendations in the consultation.

Written by Jon Ponting of Energist UK.

Gloucestershire-based Energist UK focuses on helping architects, builders and construction companies to create buildings that meet sustainability building regulations.

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