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Introduction To Sustainable Homes

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The Code is a voluntary standard designed to improve the overall sustainability of new homes by setting a single framework within which the home building industry can design and construct homes to higher environmental standards and offers a tool for developers to differentiate themselves within the market.

Effects of climate change in the UK are expected to involve winters that are warmer, increased rainfall during all months contributing to flooding and sea level rises, increased heat during summers which will could possible cause more drought and intense heat waves.

This mandatory requirement came into effect for all developments where a local authority received the building notice, initial notice or full plans application after 1st May 2008. Developments where a local authority had received these stages on or before 30 April 2008 are exempt. Where Building Regulations apply, compliance is necessary at all times. The Code assigns one or more performance requirements (assessment criteria) to all of the environmental issues. When each performance requirement is achieved, a credit is awarded (except for the four mandatory requirements with no associated credits).

Assessment procedures are based on BRE’s EcoHomes System which depends on a network of specifically trained and accredited independent assessors. Currently BRE and Stroma can offer training and accreditation of Code assessors. Code assessors can conduct an initial design stage assessment, recommend a sustainability rating, and issue an interim Code certificate.

Code service providers are licensed organisations offering all or part of the range of Code services including assessor training; registration and monitoring; quality assurance of assessments; certification; investigation and resolution of complaints; and maintenance of records (BRE Global, 2007).

Each category includes a number of environmental issues which have a potential impact on the environment. The issues can be assessed against a performance target and awarded one or more credits. Performance targets are more demanding than the minimum standard needed to satisfy Building Regulations or other legislation. They represent good or best practice, are technically feasible, and can be delivered by the building industry.

What Is Sustainable Home Construction?

sustainable home
Image by Jeremy Levine Design

Reducing the environmental impact of building and construction has become a key priority in recent years. Sustainable construction or green building describes the process of reducing the environmental impact of a building over its entire lifespan. Sitting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition are all taken into consideration, in a way that will minimise the use of water, raw materials, land and energy in general, but the traditional concerns of economy, utility and comfort are not forgotten.

OECD countries that have a trading agreement to work together for the stimulation of economic progress contribute substantially to the damage of the environment. The built environment in these countries is responsible for 15-40% of energy use, 30% of raw material use and up to 40% of global greenhouse gases and solid waste generation. Something has to be done to reduce this impact to save the worlds dwindling ecosystems. At the moment building and construction works have the largest share in global resource use and pollution emission but this could be significantly reduced if more contractors opted for sustainable construction.

Measures to reduce energy use are perhaps the most useful in the general lifespan of the building. Often these new buildings may use high-efficiency windows and insulation in walls, ceilings and floors. Onsite generation of renewable energy is also common through solar power, wind power or hydro power; though these are the most expensive features you can add to a building.

Though experts have estimated green buildings as costing 17% more to construct, other sources indicate that this is much lower, at around only 5%. Regardless of this, sustainable building will save you money in the long run, as you will significantly save on energy bills. You may even make a profit in the future as surplus generated energy could be put back into the grid.

There are clear benefits for investing in sustainable homes, not least the satisfaction you will get from knowing that you are doing your bit to protect the environment, so invest today and you won’t regret it.

Sustainable Homes and the Environment

CITIB-projektorThere’s no doubt that though the 21st century has brought us many post millennium technological innovations. It has also come with its fair share of environmental issues, which seem to be gathering momentum as time goes on. The reduction of carbon emissions, which are a key contributor to the greenhouse effect and therefore global warming, is certainly something that has had a lot of exposure in the media in past decade or so. And as a result of this exposure it seems that many car manufacturers and even property dealers have begun taking these pressing environmental issues into account.

Though many people might not realize the extent of it, the way that we choose to power our homes has a massive impact on the environment, and this is not just true locally but also on a global scale. In the United Kingdom our homes account for 27 percent of total carbon emissions. Fortunately any improvements that we make regarding energy efficiency in our homes won’t just benefit us, but also the environment globally. So by making our homes cheaper to heat and power, and by choosing to run on clean energy people, places and wildlife all around the world will be less vulnerable to changes in climate.

The push for sustainable homes and lifestyles is something that is becoming increasingly real and on the 13 of December 2006 the Department for Communities and Local Government launched the Code for Sustainable Homes – a new national standard for sustainable design and construction of new homes. This code measures the whole home as a complete package assessing its sustainability against nine categories including energy/carbon dioxide, water, materials, surface water run-off, waste, pollution, health and well-being, management, and ecology.

There are a number of different techniques that are now being implemented to make new homes more sustainable. Normally the first factor that is considered is regarding insulation, this is sometimes referred to as the “fabric first” approach, where the construction of a home is considered and insulating techniques are used to make it economical and therefore energy efficient. The use of natural light is something else that is now considered when the orientation of homes is decided, maximizing the amount of natural light that is let in and therefore reducing energy consumption. Renewable energy resources are also taken into consideration too, and features such as wood burners, which are very economical, are considered. Location is also taken into account and important environmental factors such as wildlife corridors are not blocked.