The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Metropolitan Housing Partnership (MHP) have announced the first Code level 6* status for commercially built homes in the UK, seven years before the Government's 2016 zero carbon target for housing.

The six houses to have received the status, at Upton in Northamptonshire, form part of a larger MHP housing development that is piloting a full range of eco technologies, distributed across all properties. The homes available for out right sale, shared ownership and affordable rent have been awarded BRE Code level 6* status under the Code for Sustainable Homes, which measures the overall sustainability performance against a wide range of environmental criteria including energy and water usage.

Housing Minister Margaret Beckett said: "Homes account for a quarter of the country's carbon emissions so it's essential we tackle this as part of our efforts on climate change." "The Code for Sustainable homes is already helping house builders to cut carbon emissions from homes and from 2016 all new build homes will be zero carbon. It's very encouraging that the Homes and Communities Agency and Metropolitan Housing Partnership are going faster than this by building homes to the highest levels of sustainability even now, and I congratulate them for being the first to do so."

HCA Chairman Robert Napier, said: "We know we must act now on climate change; minimising use of natural resources, reducing carbon emissions and protecting our green spaces. Whilst doing so, we need to build more houses, invest in growth areas and maintain a prosperous economy that enables people to live in the places they can afford and enjoy. A 'green' house in a 'green' place is a good place to live."

"The code level 6* status at Upton is testament to HCA's work in supporting developers to incorporate sustainability throughout the entire building process from drawing board to final development. This includes design, materials used, construction methods adopted and other environmental components such as water usage and waste generation." MHP have worked in partnership with the HCA (formerly English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation) to grant fund the affordable homes and contribute to the build costs. Also West Northants Development Corporation (WNDC), EDAW and the Princes Foundation, have been key collaborators, supporting the Code level 6* aspiration.

Northampton Borough Council has been very supportive in the delivery, working with MHP on a pilot Choice Based Lettings scheme. MHP were also assisted in the design and development by ZEDfactory, Mansells, Davis Langdon and Arups.

Bill Payne, Chief Executive of Metropolitan Housing Partnership, said: "This is a wonderful achievement; however, all these efforts will be of limited value if we do not learn from these innovative homes. We are committed to working with the residents to discover what works best for them and the environment by close monitoring in the short, medium and long-term. "We are grateful to the HCA for having the confidence to do this and are delighted to be working in partnership with them to deliver the next phases. When it comes to sustainability both MHP and HCA are committed to sharing the lessons learnt from the delivery and creation of these pioneering homes."

Code Level 6 is the highest Code level and in energy terms is simply classed as 'zero carbon'. Under the Code, a new homes' sustainability is measured against nine categories of sustainable design. These include reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions through use of new technologies; consideration of health and well being within communities and household management and steps implemented to minimise ecological impact.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.