Sustainability rating scheme to promote ‘healthier’ UK homes

A new 5-star rating scheme is being introduced by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to help house-buyers make informed decisions about the green credentials of their homes.

The ‘Home Quality Mark’ (HQM), which is now open for applications, gives new-build homes an overall star rating based on a variety of environmental and health-related factors, ranging from the energy efficiency of the building to its air quality, incorporation of planet-friendly materials and flood-risk protection.

In practice, the scheme would allow housebuilders across the country to promote the environmental performance and health impacts of their homes and ultimately differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

BRE New Homes’ community team leader Gwyn Roberts said: ‘‘HQM aims to significantly contribute to the future of our housing industry, to set a new national standard and to become the de-facto sign of a better home.

“By talking directly to the consumer, we strive to encourage greater awareness and appreciation of the Mark’s merits and the varied and wide-reaching benefits it can bring to residents of all ages across the UK.”

The HQM covers three measurable outputs: ‘knowledge sharing’, ‘my home’ and ‘our surroundings’. The ‘my home’ part provides a scoring system on how energy efficient the house is.

Reducing CO2 emissions and cost are worth the most points across the entire scoring system, potentially offering one tenth of the property’s overall score out of 500. It is expected that registered HQM homes meeting the highest criteria will be up to 50% more energy efficient than some existing dwellings in the UK.

The development of the HQM follows research from BRE which found that over 65% of UK homebuyers and renters said it would be ‘important’ for their home to have sustainability features, while one in five would be prepared to pay a higher price for a property with a green stamp of approval.

Zero-carbon homes

BRE is currently holding a public consultation for the HQM which closes tomorrow (4 September) as the organisation seeks advice and feedback from consumers and professionals before launching the final version of the standard in October. Roberts said the Government “is aware of the Mark” and “is keeping a close eye on its progress”.

But support for eco-friendly homes from the new Tory Government remains questionable. In July, the Treasury announced it would be scrapping zero-carbon building regulations for future UK homes as part of Chancellor George Osborne’s ‘Productivity Plan’. The move was immediately lambasted by green groups and housebuilding organisations, with the UK Green Building Council labelling it a ‘death knell’ for zero-carbon homes.

Home Quality Mark Scoring

Matt Mace

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