Code for Sustainable Homes, plans for zero-carbon housing and PPS26 all set to be unveiled

Communities secretary Ruth Kelly will next week unveil a package of green measures that will include the delayed Code for Sustainable Homes and a specific timetable to move towards zero-carbon homes by 2016.

In a move to position herself and her department as leaders of green development, Kelly will also announce a draft PPS on climate change. The package of measures is expected to be unveiled next Wednesday at an event organised by WWF, an environmental lobby group that has been championing the code.

The code, which was originally supposed to be implemented in April, will focus on four key areas: energy, water, waste and materials.

It is understood that there will be six levels in the code, the highest being zero-carbon homes and the lowest setting mandatory minimum levels. For energy standards and water efficiency, these minimum standards will be above current Building Regulations.

Targets for water and energy at each level will be non-negotiable but the other elements of the code will be able to be “traded” – above average standards in, for example, dealing with waste, could equal out lower than average standards in, say, materials used.

A spokesperson for the housebuilding industry said there needed to be flexibility “otherwise there is a situation where there is a rigid template that is impossible to meet”.

He added: “The code strikes a balance between moving forward in a progressive way and a practical instrument to make standards better.”

A spokesperson for the construction industry welcomed the announcements, saying that the next goal would be to achieve waste-neutral construction.

The draft PPS for climate change will set out guidelines for regional and local authorities on how they should apply planning policy to reduce carbon emissions. It is understood that Kelly will encourage councils to set their own tough targets, but will fall short of dictating specific regional emission reduction levels.