All of a sudden, Green Building Guides are in the news. Specifically, the BRE’s Green Guide, which is used for Code for Sustainable Homes ratings. One the one hand, the BRE itself is reported as saying that councils, specifically Milton Keynes, are guilty of insisting that all new homes have A+ ratings, which was never the original intention of the guide. Whilst at the same time, the Good Homes Alliance is insisting that the BRE guide is deeply flawed, principally because it allows some uPVC windows to score an A rating.
What are we to make of this? Personally, I really despise the whole idea behind Green Building Materials guides. I think it’s just blacklisting by any other name. If you don’t like uPVC, then just don’t specify it, but why try to stop other people using it? If the process of manufacturing uPVC is deemed to be too damaging to the environment, then it should be dealt with by legislation, not by blacklisting, especially if that blacklist then becomes enshrined within the building regulations via such devices as the Code for Sustainable Homes. The problem here is that the whole field is just rife with subjectivity and prejudice, and however well intentioned bodies like the BRE set out to be, they will never please everyone.
But what really gets my craw here is not that the Green Building Guide is flawed, but that its very existence serves to encourage checkbox design, which is just what Milton Keynes have been indulging in. How about letting building designers use their own judgment about which materials to use?