Developers highlight electric heating loophole in Code for Sustainable Homes

Developers are exploiting a loophole in the Code for Sustainable Homes that could lead to thousands of houses emitting more carbon than under the present Building Regulations.

According to an analysis by the Good Homes Alliance (GHA), a group of developers committed to sustainable housing, the gap in the code is encouraging builders to install less efficient electric heating in dwellings.

The alliance has raised the issue with the communities department, which says it is taking the matter seriously. According to the Building Regulations, homes heated entirely by electric means have a lower threshold of carbon emissions than homes heated by other means.

This has now been incorporated into the Code for Sustainable Homes through the requirement that homes make a certain carbon saving over the Building Regulations to meet levels three and four.

The alliance says this means an electrically heated home can be classified as level three despite the fact that its carbon emissions are greater than required by the basic Building Regulations.

People are using electric heating if they want to reach higher code levels

Neil May, chairman, GHA

Neil May, chair of the alliance, said he had been told that “thousands of homes” were planned on this basis.

He said the problem was compounded by the fact that electric heating was cheaper to install and, perversely, cheaper to make percentage emissions improvements on through better house insulation, because it was more carbon intensive.

May said: “It’s driving people to use electric heating if they want to reach higher code levels. That’s going to be the cheapest solution.”

The alliance is calling for the government to bring in a flat carbon emission standard for code compliance, as well monitoring carbon emission in homes after they are occupied.

A communities department spokesman said it was hoping to resolve the issues at the next meeting of the committee that works on the code.