A guide to the Code for Sustainable Homes (Part Two)

Information on the Code for Sustainable Homes, and some helpful advice to aid you and your new build home in achieving Sustainability status.

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Continued from A guide to the Code for Sustainable Homes (Part One)

The other minimum requirements of the Code for Sustainable Homes

Under the Code, it is required that all new builds reach a minimum standard for surface water run-off, site waste management, and sustainable materials.

You will have two options when it comes to dealing with surface water run-off. These are:

1. A rainwater harvesting system, which will cost around £3,500. This solves the problem completely and also helps achieve the 105 litres per person per day limit.

2. Install water-permeable hard surfaces such as drives, patios, and perhaps even a rainwater soakaway too.

Site waste management can be a bit more difficult. It is tricky because you will be relying upon your contractors to comply. WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) is an organisation which can offer you a free scheme template in order to aid you in delivering best practice and achieving your target.

 In order to reach Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH 3), you must use materials with at least a D-rating according to the BRE Green Guide for a minimum of three of the key parts of the build, such as the walls, the roof, windows and doors, and so on. Most of the ratings you will find in the BRE guide are A, some reaching A+. Concrete is really the only potential problem, whilst cavity walls and timber frame are both A-rated.

The Process of Assessment

The assessment part of the Code for Sustainable Homes is very much a bureaucratic process, and so the more paperwork you have to hand, the better. You will do well to include documents such as drawings, site plans, specifications, manuals, instruction books, invoices, experts’ reports, and anything and everything else which is related to the project and the use of the home, and to organise these documents in a clear and orderly fashion to be delivered to the assessor. Detail is always of great importance.

Strangely, some research carried out by the Richard Hodkinson Consultancy in 2007 showed that PassivHaus (which is the German standard normally accepted to be the most energy-efficient construction method) would not meet the criteria of CSH 3. The Code assessment utilises the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) test to carry out the energy performance calculations, and for a number of years questions have been raised over the efficacy of the SAP test, most especially where more thermally efficient buildings are concerned.

If, for whatever reason, you are unable to increase your build costs by the normally required 15%, then you should find that a little time spent studying the Code, and the aid of a knowledgeable architect, will still achieve your target.

Maximise your Code Points

The Code for Sustainable Homes offers points for some easily drawn-in plans, such as adding storage for four bicycles for a four bedroom house (2.4 points), or even just adding space for two bicycles at the same house (1.2 points). Include a room which could, if ever it was needed, be used as a home office, excluding office furniture, and including only a phone socket and double power point, and you could earn another 1.2 points. If you produce a simple folder including all of the manuals for all the appliances and equipment in the house you can easily earn an additional 3.3 points. Greywater recycling is a perfect, simple way of reducing your water usage, and will help you achieve your necessary target of 105 litres per person per day, too.

Every individual thing that could earn you points will count in the long run, and so it is worth checking out the entire list of possible point earners to be sure that you maximise our chances of reaching CSH 3.

Credits and Points

When you are aiming to reach Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, you will be looking to earn the most points out of a possible 100 (based on a percentage system) for your new home’s sustainability credentials. However, some confusion is often experienced when it comes to light that there are also a potential 103 credits to be won alongside the 100 points. This is because the official Code Level rating is determined by working out the points score which your home racks up. In order to reach this score, however, everything must firstly be worked out using the credits system, before the credits are then converted into the necessary points. However, adding more difficulty to the process is the fact that, confusingly, some of the credits will earn more percentage points than others. For example, Water will achieve the highest number of points per credit at 1.5, whilst Materials comes in at the lower end, with only 0.3. Therefore, even though there are 24 Materials credits available to be gained, the Materials will ultimately earn you a maximum of just 7.2 points. Conversely, while only 6 Water credits are available to be earned, these credits will make up a total 9 points.

 

Continue to Part Three

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