The Code for Sustainable Homes is a hotch potch. Whilst zero carbon and, to a much lesser extent, water use reduction have been discussed at length, if you were to build the most energy and water efficient house possible, you’d still only score 44% of the maximum available eco points. That would get you to Code Level 1. Code Level 6, the top level, requires a score of 90%.
So how would you go about garnering the other percentage points required to lever your house up from Code Level 1 to Level 6?
The answer is that you have to accumulate credits (of varying value) by undertaking all manner of other actions. Some are relatively easy:
• Provision for cycle storage — score 2.5%
• Provision of a home office — score 1.25%
• Provision of recycling bins and a compost bin — 4.75%
• Use EU approved insulation — 0.6%
Others are more taxing and potentially a lot more costly
• Build to Lifetime Homes standards — 4.75%
• Build to Secured by Design standards — 2.25%
• Improve on Part E sound regulations — 4.75%
• Use A+ rated materials from the Green Guide for Specification — 4.5%
• Build into the basement or the loftspace — 2.65%
You can only afford to lose 10% of the credits available if you want to qualify for Code Level 6. As there are likely to be some areas where your site cannot score at all, the likelihood is that designers will be forced to incorporate practically every feature mentioned in the Code. The elbow room for trade-off is remarkably limited.
This is where the Code gets into sticky ground. A lot of these features — there are 34 tests applied in all — are concerned with good design and best practice, but not necessarily to do with sustainability. For instance, having your builder signed up for the Considerate Contractors Scheme (worth 2.25%) is all very well but doesn’t really make much difference to climate change. So why is it being included in the Code?
And the requirement for A or A+ rated materials is effectively going to blacklist an awful lot of C rated materials. I am not sure the PVCu manufacturers have yet twigged this, but the Code has it in for them.