At the Better Buildings Summit in October 2003 Ministers announced the establishment of the Sustainable Buildings Task Group (SBTG), co-chaired by Sir John Harman, Chairman of the Environment Agency and Victor Benjamin, Deputy Chairman of English Partnerships. The SBTG remit was to advise Government on practical and cost effective measures to improve the sustainability of buildings in the short and long term.

The SBTG report (Better buildings better lives) to Government in May 2004 made 39 recommendations, including a number pertaining to the establishment of a single national Code for Sustainable Buildings (CSB).

Code for Sustainable Buildings
SBTG recommended:

A single national Code for Sustainable Buildings (CSB) be established.

Government response:

Supported the concept of establishing a CSB as a constructive approach for encouraging, where appropriate, those involved in the building process to reach higher levels of environmental performance than those stipulated by regulation.

SBTG recommended:

Government and industry set up, within three months, a joint venture body to develop and establish the CSB.

Government's response:

The establishment of a senior steering group (SSG) to oversee the development of a single national code (the CSB). A decision on the most suitable body to take on the long-term management of any future code would be taken once a full understanding of the resource requirements and impacts has been established.

SBTG recommended:

The CSB be based on the Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) and incorporate clearly specified minimum standards in key resource efficiency criteria (energy and water efficiency, waste and use of materials).

Government's response:

Government would look at the standards, good practice and technical expertise already available and being promoted by industry. Also would consider how best to build upon the excellent work already undertaken by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and its Environmental Assessment Method (BREEEAM) as well as other work including the successful Millennium Communities programme, developed by English Partnerships (EP).

Additional Conditions set out in Government's Response

In accepting the principal of establishing a CSB, the Government considered it essential that any CSB will:

  • have the support and commitment of industry;
  • not reinvent wheels unnecessarily; and be
  • practical, cost-effective and flexible enough to be achievable by all.

Senior Steering Group

Established 15 December 2004 - membership:
Central Government Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Richard McCarthy, Director General) and Office of Government Commerce (Peter Fanning, Deputy Chief Executive)
Environmental - Sustainable Development Commission (Walter Menzies, Commissioner) and World Wildlife Fund (Robert Napier, Chief Executive, also English Partnerships Board member)
Industry - Strategic Forum (Peter Rogers, also Technical Director Stanhope plc) and Sustainability Forum (Ian Coull, also Chief Executive Slough Estates plc)
Supply Chain - Construction Products Association (Michael Ankers, Chief Executive)
Housing - Social Housing (June Barnes, Chief Executive, East Thames Housing Group) and Volume Housing (David Pretty, Chief Executive, Barratt)


The Code for Sustainable Buildings (CSB) is an evolving voluntary scheme being developed by Government and Industry. The aim of the CSB is the active promotion of more sustainable building practices.

To develop a cost effective, practicable and marketable CSB which will become the single national standard for sustainable building that all sectors of the building industry will subscribe to and consumers demand.

The CSB will apply to all new building developments; with the initial focus on new build housing. In the longer term it may apply to major refurbishment of existing buildings. The CSB will extend beyond the construction phase and set requirements for building performance.
The CSB will focus on required outcomes/outputs and will not be prescriptive. It will also consist of a series of performance levels; each will have clearly specified requirements. There will be minimum threshold requirements for energy, water, waste and materials efficiency.

The CSB will be developed using as much relevant existing information as practicable.
Compliance criteria should be simple, concise and clear.
The compliance verification process should be perceived as reasonable, manageable and worthwhile not burdensome.
CSB buildings should be perceived by stakeholders as more marketable than other buildings.
CSB compliant buildings should be of high quality with lower unit running costs.

The CSB will initially focus on the building itself (process and performance) and on associated aspects of the development. In the longer term it may consider specific aspects of the development such as site infrastructure and services and site layout and design.

The CSB will set out clearly specified minimum performance requirements for energy, water and resource efficiency. It will also establish a series of performance levels; each will have clearly specified requirements. In establishing these requirements all the principles of sustainable development will be taken into account.

The above requirements are performance based and not prescriptive. So designers, developers, builders and consumers have the flexibility and choice about how to design and construct a CSB compliant building. This will encourage innovation.

The following categories will be included:

Buildings built to the Building Regulations 2006 will have an energy cost factor of x, / a SAP 2005 rating of y and target carbon dioxide emission rating of z. Indicative CSB requirements expressed as an energy cost factor.

Average daily water consumption is approximately 150 litres per person. One option is to establish a SAP equivalent for water and express in similar terms to energy performance. Indicative CSB requirement - express as a percentage saving in terms of net metered supplied.

Waste Management during Construction
The objective is to reduce to zero the amount of construction waste sent to landfill - CSB requirements expressed as minimising amount of construction waste to landfill.
Waste Management during Occupation of the Building
Provide adequate collection facilities in each unit for recyclable materials collected by the statutory body.

Use of Materials
Minimum %age of independently certified virgin and reclaimed timber

Durability and Flexibility
Future proofing (climate change)
Adaptability (flexibility of use)
Maintenance of performance
Recoverability (Re-use and/or recycling of materials used)

Health and Well Being
Internal air quality (linked with use of materials)
Enhanced daylight standards in habitable rooms
Enhanced ventilation require effective delivery and mixing of fresh air to ensure the well being of building users
Enhanced sound proofing
Security (lights, smoke detection)

Flood Resilience Measures (where appropriate)
Link with Durability and Flexibility


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