The Code for Sustainable Homes

solar panels new build sustainableIn December 2006, the UK Government promised that all new homes would be ‘zero carbon’ from 2016 and introduced the Code for Sustainable Homes, against which all new homes would be rated, on a range of different sustainability measures.

The Code for Sustainable Homes is the national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes. It aims to reduce carbon emissions and promote higher standards of sustainable design above the current minimum standards set out by the building regulations. There is more information on the Code at the Planning Portal.

Whilst the Code is officially voluntary, the reality is that level 3 of the Code for sustainable homes is now incorporated in the building regulations and compliance is also stipulated by many local authority planning departments.

Technical guide

Technical guide

There is a freely downloadable technical guide to the Code that can be downloaded using the link to the right. In a nutshell, each level of the Code sets a strict standard for the energy performance of new build homes. This rating is measured using the government-approved Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) methodology. Higher levels of the Code prescribe progressively stricter requirements.

You can download information on level 3, level 4, and levels 5 and 6 of the code from the Energy Saving Trust website.

How to comply with the Code for Sustainable Homes

Carbon emissions reduction can be achieved in many different ways, including uprating the insulation of the floor, walls and roof, installing triple glazing, and incorporating renewable technologies into the build. An increasingly common method of compliance with the Code is to install solar panels, and/or change the heating system for a renewable source. All of these methods have an initial cost, make sense in the long term as they result in lower energy bills. Renewable technologies have the added benefit of providing an income to the end user via the Feed in Tariff or Renewable Heat Incentive, which will often cover their initial cost.

Solar panels

Ground mounting using the Renusol Console systemYour Code assessor will be able to specify a size of solar PV system that will satisfy the calculations. This may be a single solar panel, or several. We can supply and install a system of any size, large or small, for your project. We even supply some construction companies who fit the solar panels themselves and we commission the system when finished.

If you aren’t too keen on fitting solar panels to your roof, perhaps there is space in the garden for an array, such as the one on the right.

new build air source heat pumpsAir source heat pumps

A solution that is often overlooked is that of using a renewable source of heat, such as a heat pump, as an alternative to a fossil fuel boiler. This has a number of advantages, not least the fact that a gas (or oil) supply will no longer be required. This can save a considerable amount of money in itself.

In addition, heat pumps are cheaper to run than fossil fuel systems. Where there is no natural gas supply and the heating would be otherwise reliant on oil or LPG, the savings can be considerable. We can design a heat pump system from the architect’s plans, as long as we have all the dimensions and information on the construction materials.