Plans for new housing to be carbon neutral by 2016

A stronger sustainable homes code and proposals for stricter building regulations were announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government yesterday

The government is consulting on a proposed framework to help deliver its target for all new housing developments to be zero carbon by 2016.

As part of a package of measures, the code for sustainable homes has already been consulted on and will come into effect in April 2007.

The code aims to promote demand for sustainable homes by assigning sustainability ratings to new housing. It will initially be voluntary and set standards above existing requirements. But the government wants to make reporting against the code mandatory by April 2008.

The code has six levels and new homes will be scored on their performance in nine categories including energy and carbon dioxide, water, materials, waste and pollution. Each level sets out minimum standards which must be achieved in energy/carbon performance and water consumption.

Level 1 of the code is 10% more demanding in terms of energy efficiency than building regulations while level 6 requires zero carbon dioxide emissions.

The Government is proposing to incorporate the energy performance aspects of the code into future building regulations. By 2010, all new homes would have to meet level 3 of the code and be 25% more energy efficient than new buildings today. They would have to meet level 4 by 2013 – a 44% increase – and by 2016 they would have to be carbon neutral.

The measures are expected to deliver up to 7 million tonnes of carbon (MtC) savings by 2020 and save almost 7MtC per year by 2050.

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