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


Conclusions


1.  Unlike Building Regulations, the CSH incentivises developers and designers to think about sustainability from the outset and throughout the development process. (Paragraph 6)

2.  The argument that unexpectedly shifting standards create damaging uncertainty for developers does not apply to the CSH, because, unlike other codes and guidance, the CSH is owned by DCLG. If the CSH requires updating, DCLG can make the necessary amendments and provide home builders with appropriate notice. (Paragraph 16)

3.  DCLG can significantly reduce red tape while maintaining and developing the CSH as a tool to drive sustainable home building. (Paragraph 16)

4.  DCLG's proposed needs test on the application of sustainability standards by local authorities risks becoming a lawyers' charter. It could curtail local choice, delay the construction of new homes, drive down standards of sustainability and compel local authorities to incur unnecessary legal fees. The Coalition Agreement stated that the Government would "return decision-making powers on housing and planning to local councils." The proposed imposition of a national standards set on local authorities is not congruent with the commitment to localism in the Coalition Agreement. (Paragraph 20)

5.  Standards of sustainability in Building Regulations have evolved to follow the CSH since its introduction in 2007. That twin-track approach embedded a degree of sustainability in all new homes, because Building Regulations are universal. For example, once-difficult-to-achieve lower-level CSH standards on energy have been successfully embedded in Building Regulations. DCLG does not need to introduce new national baseline standards, because Building Regulations, as currently constituted, already provide an effective baseline. Beyond that, the CSH is a flexible means of delivering sustainability in line with local circumstances and local choice. As new technologies come to market, sustainable development evolves and local circumstances change, the CSH can continue to set a mark for Building Regulations to follow. The single-track approach of simply setting standards in Building Regulations is undesirable, because it would not include a higher standard to drive incremental improvements and to measure progress, a role which is currently fulfilled by the CSH. (Paragraph 26)

6.  The specifications around the zero carbon homes target have been watered down to such an extent that the proposed standards in Building Regulations now fall some way short of the higher levels of the CSH. There is no guarantee that further dilution will not occur in the run-up to the implementation of zero carbon homes in 2016. (Paragraph 33)

7.  Materials make an ongoing contribution to sustainability. For example, a well insulated home will contribute to reducing energy demand throughout its lifetime. In addition, a lack of regulated standards risks inhibiting green growth and green exports. (Paragraph 37)

8.  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. (Paragraph 38)

9.  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. (Paragraph 39)


 
previous page contents next page


© Parliamentary copyright 2013
Prepared 20 November 2013