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retrofit briefing Technologhy4Change

Published by BRE Trust

UK code for domestic refurb is coming


A new BREEAM standard for domestic refurbishment is in the final stages of trial and has already been taken up by one local authority.

This month assessors are measuring more than 300 UK homes in a pilot programme for the new BREEAM assessment method for domestic refurbishment. The final version will be launched in the autumn, and ahead of its launch Croydon council has committed to applying the standard.

The method comes amid growing calls for an industry-acceptable standard to measure the greening of existing homes as large-scale upgrading becomes central to meeting the government's carbon emissions targets. Last month, the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) called for a code for sustainable refurbishment to stand alongside the CSH. In its report, Zero Carbon Britain 2030 CAT said a code for refurbishment was needed "to ensure this [refurbishment work] is done to a high level and avoid it being done twice."

BRE Global is in the final stages of trialling the new method after initial stakeholder workshops last year. Initial feedback from the pilot is positive and the standard has already been written into the London Borough of Croydon's core strategy.

Croydon council requires new build housing to be built to Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH) level 4 and conversion and refurbishment of existing buildings to meet BREEAM domestic refurbishment standards. The new method is designed to sit alongside CSH, providing a means of setting environmental requirements for refurbishment projects. It also complements the Green Deal initiative for homeowners which is planned to encourage energy efficiency refits and comes on stream in 2012. A BRE spokesman said: "It is a national standard that can be used in a local context to address local issues.  Its aim is to help maximise the impact of the government's proposed Green Deal by providing a standard to measure homes against."  

This new standard is in the BREEAM format but is tuned to the needs of existing homes. Properties are measured against such environmental criteria as energy and water use, and then given a rating ranging from ‘pass' to ‘outstanding'. The pilot programme is testing the method in properties of varying types and ages, ranging from apartments to traditional houses.

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