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4 or 5 under the Code energy credits, which can then be supplemented by other Code credits to meet funding or environmental targets. ‘In our view, this should be the future

driver towards low-energy housing – a new approach utilising modern construction methods, detailing and materials to achieve highly insulated, energy-efficient envelopes by moving away from the old energy- inefficient ways of building and using eco- bling to make up the difference.’ This ‘fabric-first’ approach has already

found favour with some of the major housebuilders including Crest Nicholson, Barratt and Stuart Milne with their participation in the AIMC4 Partners in Innovation project. The consortium is working on developing a fabric-only solution to meet the energy requirements of Code Level 4 and beyond. ‘AIMC4 is targeted specifically at the

In the future, new buildings may no longer be subject to the Code if the government proceeds with its proposal for the Building Regulations to incorporate the Code

what is believed to be the first ‘affordable’ housing scheme nationally to have achieved ‘zero carbon’, or Level 6 under the Code, points to the extra costs associated with the development, Mendip Place in Chelmsford, Essex. Jon Boon, a partner of consultancy

Ingleton Wood who led the Mendip Place design team, says: ‘From our experience at Mendip Place, Code 6 brings some excellent environmental benefits. However, considerable extra expense is involved which does not necessarily benefit either the residents or the environment.’ An example of extra expense is the

The Code has led to a lot of poor buildings built with inappropriate technologies at high cost with high future maintenance costs and risks

requirement to provide all of the dwellings’ energy requirements from on-site sources. ‘For Mendip, this involved a large photovoltaic installation at substantial cost – arguably the same environmental benefit could have been obtained from connection to a green energy supplier,’ says Boon. In addition, to achieve the requirement for

zero net CO2 emissions, the development has a communal biomass heating system. According to Boon, this also involved ‘additional costs over and above conventional individual heating systems’. Boon argues that Passivhaus is a more

economic solution than designing to the Code: ‘The best value solution for low-energy housing is to design to Passivhaus standards, where costs are focused towards achieving a high-efficiency envelope, therefore reducing energy costs and CO2 emissions.’ This solution, says Boon, will achieve Level

36 CIBSE Journal June 2011

energy requirements of 2016 and zero carbon, because if you look at housing developments over that timeline, the most challenging and expensive area we have to overcome is energy,’ says Elizabeth Ness, group sustainability executive at house builder Crest Nicholson. The consortium is looking at a variety

of different construction methods that are being trialled on various exemplar schemes to ensure the solution is deliverable economically nationwide. Says Ness: ‘By the time we get to 2013, by driving these exemplars forward and by working with our supply chain, we will have engineered out the added on cost, so when we deliver in 2013 it will be the same cost as if it was Part L 2010.’ More recently, the government announced

a controversial change to the definition of ‘zero carbon’ homes. In March ministers announced that ‘housebuilders will only be accountable for those CO2 emissions covered by Building Regulations’. Birnie argues that this could lead to two

separate definitions of ‘zero carbon’: Code Level 5 would equate to being ‘zero carbon’ compliant, while Level 6, which includes unregulated loads, would be ‘zero carbon plus’. There have also been reports the

government is considering incorporating the Code into the Building Regulations. However, the Building Regulations do not cover issues such as cycle storage or the responsible sourcing of material, unless these become a planning requirement. ‘A lot could get lost,’ says Birnie.

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