The Cost of Achieving New Code for Sustainable Homes Revealed

The average additional cost of achieving Level 3 of the new Code for Sustainable Homes will be around 3% more than the old standard of EcoHomes ‘Very Good’, according to research published today on behalf of English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation.

Researchers at Cyril Sweett, the cost consultants who produced the report, found that costs will range for different house types and technologies from an additional 0.4% to an additional 6.2%. The benefits of achieving Level 3 of the new Code will see a 25% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions per home, and water-usage savings of 21 litres per person per day, over an average home built to EcoHomes ‘Very Good’. The additional cost therefore produces more efficient results and more sustainable homes.

Registration of developments under The Code for Sustainable Homes starts this month. The Government is likely to propose that from April next year all new housing will be rated under the Code as a stepping stone towards all new homes being zero carbon by 2016. English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation have already adopted Level 3 of the Code.

Steve Carr, Head of Policy and Economics at English Partnerships said, “This report shows that the housebuilding sector can tackle global warming without major extra cost. For some of our development partners there may be no real extra cost at all because they are already using the energy saving design and construction methods needed to get to Level 3 of the Code.

“We have to start adapting to climate change now. Housebuilders who work with us on our land in the early stages are likely to have an advantage over their competitors in the future.”

Matt Leach, Director of Policy and Communications at the Housing Corporation said, "Attitudes to green issues have been transformed throughout the building industry as people's aspirations for higher environmental standards continue to grow. We're proud of the part we're playing in accelerating this change by ensuring that all Housing Corporation-funded homes will meet this standard.

“Moving to Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes - reducing carbon emissions by 25% and saving 21 litres of water per person per day - is a considerable achievement, and will support the entire housing sector as it embraces the need to move towards zero carbon building in the future.

"This report from Cyril Sweett is the just the first in a range of support measures to help the sector embrace this challenge as cost-effectively as possible, raising standards and saving fuel bills for the people who live in our homes, as well as directly contributing to measures tackling climate change across the economy."

The report, which looked at four approaches to achieving Level 3 applied across six different house types, found that the Code would be most expensive to achieve in traditionally built detached and terraced houses. Apartments and two house types using modern methods of construction were the cheapest.

Further analysis of results showed that costs are likely to be lowest where it is possible to use wind energy or site-wide combined heat and power (CHP) technologies. It concludes that a planning requirement to use renewable energy would have a major impact on the strategy for meeting the Code’s energy standards.

Adam MacTavish, a Director of Management Consultancy at Cyril Sweett commented, “Whilst the costs of achieving these standards using traditional methods are high there are good reasons to expect actual costs to reduce as both the industry and its supply chain begin to focus on environmental performance.

“These standards amplify the benefit of taking innovative approaches to both design and delivery. The extent to which housebuilders embrace this will begin to have a material impact upon their success.”

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