Under the code, public sector housing providers will only have to meet the energy efficiency requirements of building regulations. They currently have to exceed them by 30%.
The code, intended to improve the environmental quality of new housing, contains five levels of sustainability. It is voluntary, but all homes receiving Government funding will have to meet its "higher levels".
To achieve level one, homes will need to meet the energy efficiency requirements of the building regulations, as well as minimum standards for water efficiency, surface water management and bin space. Developers will also need a site waste management plan and inventory of materials used.
Higher levels can be achieved by improving performance in the above categories or providing additional elements such as soundproofing and "external private space".
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) wants to set a higher energy efficiency requirement for level four homes. Level five "could only be achieved if a home emits no building-related carbon emissions." Despite these requirements, WWF has resigned from the code’s steering group, saying the draft was the product of a "government in reverse".
Houses built by English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation will have lower energy efficiency standards under the code than they do currently, WWF said. This was confirmed by the Building Research Establishment, which worked on the code.
The code also lacks public sector requirements for homes to be close to public transport and for assessments of the ecological value of development sites.
A spokesman for the ODPM said the code is "just a draft". The ODPM has been working on the code for the past 18 months.
The consultation runs until next March.