Code for Sustainable Homes and the Housing Standards Review - Environmental Audit Committee Contents


3  Conclusion

Housing demand

38. DCLG projections indicate that the number of households in England will increase by 10% over the next decade from 22.1 million in 2011 to 24.3 million in 2021.[60] That equates to the formation of some 220,000 new households a year. In that context, the Future Homes Commission has argued that some 300,000 new homes must be constructed in Britain each year to keep pace with likely demand.[61] Although those figures are estimates, it is reasonable to assume that hundreds of thousands of homes will need to be constructed over the next decade. In light of the volume of construction required to meet medium-term demand for housing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, DCLG has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to embed sustainability in the national housing stock through appropriate regulation. Unfortunately, the regime proposed in the HSR consultation is too weak to ensure that those homes will be constructed to a robust sustainable standard.

Developing the CSH

39. We acknowledge that the CSH, as it is currently constituted, is capable of improvement. The BRE, which maintains the CSH under contract to DCLG, told us that "We have something [the CSH] that we need to update. Some of the criticisms that are made of the code are because it requires refreshing".[62] Similarly, the LGA told us that "there are some areas in which the code could and should be modernised."[63] The CSH is owned by DCLG, which is responsible for updating it (see paragraph 16). If DCLG were to update the CSH to take account of evolving technology and standards of sustainability, it would have an effective mechanism by which incrementally to embed sustainability in home building for the long term.

40. To take a specific example of how the CSH might be improved, we heard that the CSH is overly focused on high-technology solutions. Wienerberger told us that the CSH "currently contains some issues of peripheral importance which are assigned a higher priority than the fundamental aspects of the fabric of the house and its anticipated service life."[64] That point was echoed by the NHF, which observed that "the way in which the code is currently laid out promotes a more technological response rather than a performance-based response. This involves putting in high-spec technology rather than thinking about fabric efficiency."[65] We have already discussed the importance of sustainable materials in construction (see paragraph 34). It would be straightforward for DCLG to refresh the CSH to address that criticism.

Recommendation

41. The Coalition Agreement stated that the Government would "require continuous improvements to the energy efficiency of new housing."[66] Since 2007, the CSH has delivered continuous improvements in the energy efficiency of new housing and other aspects of sustainable construction. In the process, developers, local authorities, energy suppliers, consultants, housing associations, designers, materials manufacturers and others have achieved an ever-increasing standard of sustainable development due to CSH compliance. If, as proposed in the HSR consultation, DCLG winds down the CSH, that learning and development will be lost. In order to facilitate local choice, to promote green growth, green exports and green innovation, to establish a meaningful zero carbon homes standard, to consolidate seven years' experience of sustainable development and to maintain and further develop incremental gains in sustainable home building, we urge DCLG not to wind down the Code for Sustainable Homes.


60   DCLG, Household Interim Projections in England 2011 to 2021 (April 2013), p 1 Back

61   Future Homes Commission, Building the Homes and Communities Britain Needs (October 2012) Back

62   Q38 Back

63   Q15 Back

64   Wienerberger Ltd (CSH 033) paras 4 to 5 Back

65   Q2 Back

66   HM Government, The Coalition: our programme for government, p 12 Back


 
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Prepared 20 November 2013