What is the CfSH?

Launched in 2007 the Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH) is the national environmental assessment method for rating and certifying the performance of new homes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Within England it replaces the EcoHomes scheme, developed by the Building Research Establishment. It is a national energy standard for the sustainable design and construction of new dwellings. It aims to reduce carbon emissions and promote higher standards of sustainable design above the current minimum standards set out by the Building Regulations. The code uses a 1 to 6 star system to rate the overall performance of a new home against nine categories of sustainable design:

  • Energy & CO2 emissions
  • Water
  • Materials
  • Surface water runoff (flooding & flood prevention)
  • Waste
  • Pollution
  • Health & well-being
  • Management
  • Ecology

These nine categories break down into two groups, mandatory and other. The mandatory elements are energy and water. Within the other group is a subgroup comprising surface water run-off, site waste management and sustainable materials, where minimum standards must still be met. The six levels each demand an increased reduction of carbon emissions and water consumption. By way of example Level 1 requires a maximum of 120 litres of water use per person per day with a 10% reduction of the Target Emission Rate (TER), compared with Level 3 which requires a maximum of 105 litres of water per person and a 25% reduction of the TER. The highest level, CfSH Level 6, requires a maximum of 80 litres of water per person per day with ‘zero carbon’ status. This means that the carbon dioxide emissions from the dwelling must be offset by the energy generated by the home’s renewable energy sources (together with some off-site solutions) within the space of one year. 

CfSH assessments are carried out in two phases. There is an initial assessment at the design stage which results in an interim certificate. Design is therefore key to overall compliance. The CfSH will assess the drawings and specifications for the planned dwelling and award points in the nine design categories out of a total of 100 points based on a percentage system. There is a further assessment and final certification at the post-construction stage. 

Whilst the code is voluntary, many local authorities require developers to comply with Level 3 or even 4 by including a requirement in their planning policy. Further, affordable housing funded by the Homes and Community Agency require homes to be built to code Level 3. Moreover, Level 6 is likely to be incorporated into the new national Building Regulations in England and Wales by 2016. To download the code for sustainable development please click here.


Anderson Goddard © 2014