At present, the Government’s new code on sustainable building is voluntary. It aims to promote more sustainable practices in energy, water, and material resource use, but crucially is not legally enforceable.

Councillor Keith Mitchell, Chairman of the SEERA said: “Being sustainable should become embedded in society if we want to make good use of our natural resources, so they last longer. The Assembly is positive about the new code for sustainable homes but we want to push the boundaries by making it mandatory. It is time to be tougher on ourselves to make this leap forward. The housing industry, the Housing Corporation and English Partnerships need to make it happen to ensure a step change. The ball is now with Government to create a mandatory code.”

The South East is set for a massive house building boom over the coming years, particularly through the Thames Gateway development – the biggest building project in Europe which will add housing roughly the size of Manchester along the Thames – and the M11 corridor expansion.

A slight boost to sustainable building was provided this week with the opening in Dorset of the Sustainable Building Resource Centre.

Co-located with the Dorset Centre for Rural Skills, it provides a one-stop shop for information and resources, advice and design facilities. A range of sustainable building products are displayed for sale to homeowners, potential owners, builders, planners, architects and surveyors.

The centre itself has been built from straw bales as a showpiece example of the technologies on offer that are low impact and energy efficient. Timber frame and straw bale buildings can be designed and built to order using locally sourced materials and registers of local architects and builders who specialise in sustainable building.

David Hopkins

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