The code for sustainable homes is a piece of legislation that came into force in 2007 in England and adopted in Wales and Northern Ireland in 2008. It does not apply in Scotland. The code provides a framework for the environmental assessment of homes. Some of the assessment criteria used concern the environmental impact and carbon emissions of new homes, hence they look at construction methods, building materials and insulation characteristics. Another area of the code, however, looks at health and well-being and concerns features that add long term value and benefit to the people who live in those homes. A major part of the carbon footprint of any home is created during its construction phase. It is only sensible, therefore, to build homes that people will want to live in for longer, in order that we need to build fewer houses in the longer term.
Assessing new developments
Every housing developer now needs to appoint a service provider in order to assess any new development and award the buildings a code rating. Qualified assessors will assess the design and award an interim certificate prior to the construction phase and will then calculate a final score and award the appropriate code level upon completion. Each home is assessed according to nine criteria, of which four are mandatory. These are dwelling emission rate, environmental impact of materials, indoor water use and lifetime homes. Points are also awarded for adherence to the other categories, which are weighted according to perceived importance. Totting up the points results in a total score and award of the relevant code level.
Creating quieter homes
The code for sustainable homes also encourages developers to create homes with better sound insulation qualities than are required by current building regulations. By doing this the developers can obtain extra credits by upgrading the specification for separating floors and walls. A maximum score can be achieved by ensuring these separating floors and walls exceed the standard sound insulation performance levels by 8dB. As yet there are no specifications that are certified to deliver this performance, therefore this must be confirmed by pre-completion tests. Solutions to achieve such sound insulation improvements are already being offered, resulting in much quieter homes for residents. Unwelcome noise can be a nuisance to many residents and can greatly impact their quality of life. It is refreshing, therefore, to see regulations that encourage better sound insulation and quieter, more comfortable homes.