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Housing: Sustainable Buildings

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 27 February 2008

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Iain Wright) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government are today confirming the timing of implementation of mandatory ratings against the code for sustainable homes (the code) for new homes in England. This will come into effect on 1 May 2008. All sellers of new homes that apply for building control approval for their development on or after this date will need to include in the home information pack either a code sustainability certificate (where the home has been designed and assessed against the code) or a nil-rated certificate (when a home has not been assessed against the code). We will shortly be laying regulations to bring this into effect. In all instances as a result of the mandatory rating policy the purchasers of new homes will be given clear information about the sustainability of their home and house builders will have a clear and consistent basis on which to compare and market their products.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is also publishing an updated document explaining what the code is, how it works and what the main categories are within it. This can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at A copy will also been placed in the Libraries of the House. The technical guidance which is used by industry to design and assess code homes is also available on the Department for Communities and Local Government website. This is a “living document” which is updated—as necessary—at the beginning of April and October each year to take account of feedback from industry and in light of any changes in regulations.

The code was launched in December 2006 and came into effect in England on 10 April 2007 as a voluntary national sustainability standard, following extensive consultation with environmental groups and the home building and wider construction industries. It is a key part of our package of measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and tackle climate change. The code provides a framework for builders to go further and faster than building regulations and mandatory ratings will provide a clear incentive for the housebuilding industry to build more sustainable homes.

We are also seeking to establish the code in primary legislation through clauses in Part 3 of the Housing and Regeneration Bill. This will enable the department to set up the code on a similar basis to energy performance certificates including the ability to set up accreditation schemes, a register of certificates and to ensure that the sellers of all new homes, not just those that are marketed for sale, will be required to give buyers clear information about the sustainability of their new home. It will also ensure that those buyers who receive only interim—design-stage—certificates before a sale is agreed will receive a final post-construction certificate once the home is finished.

The code complements the system of energy performance certificates for new homes, which will be introduced in April 2008 under the energy performance of buildings directive (EPBD).