Code for Sustainable Homes

The Code for Sustainable Homes is a voluntary set of guidelines for sustainable design. The aim is to reduce carbon emissions and improve sustainable design above the minimum standards set out by existing building regulations.

The code rates 9 measures on a 1 to 6 star system to quantify the overall sustainability of a new build. These 9 items are:

  • Energy/CO2
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Surface water runoff (flooding and flood prevention)
  • Waste
  • Pollution
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Management
  • Ecology

Is the Code Enforced?

The code is entirely voluntary and the government has no intention of making it mandatory. However, there are some instances where it may be enforced, such as developments where it is a requirement within planning policy, or affordable housing developments which must be built to code level 3.

green building code

How Does a House Reach a Code 6 Rating?

Code 6 is the highest rating that a house can get. To achieve this, it must:

  • Be completely zero carbon: this can be achieved through better thermal efficiency, reducing air permeability, using low/zero carbon technologies, or being on a district thermal system
  • Be designed to use no more than around 80 litres of water per person, per day: this can be achieved by using a dual flush WC, aerating taps, and capping the max volume on dishwashers and washing machines
  • Have good surface water management, such as soakaways and porous paving
  • Use Green materials
  • Have a waste management plan in place during the construction
  • Use energy efficient appliances and lighting
  • Supply accessible water butts
  • Reduce surface water run-off as much as possible
  • Use environmentally friendly materials
  • Minimise construction waste
  • Increase the amount of daylight available
  • Increase sound insulation
  • Be built to the Lifetime Homes standard
  • Be assessed for the ecological impact of construction

What are the Benefits of Adhering to the Code?

The Code for Sustainable Homes has a wide range of benefits for both the home owner/builder and the environment. Homes that have a high rating reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt better to climate change, and have a reduced overall impact on the environment.

The home owner ultimately benefits from much lower running costs as the house uses far less energy on a day to day basis, improved home comfort (especially air quality and light quality), and certainty in the quality and durability of materials.