Prepared by the Centre for Research in the Built Environment of the Welsh School of Architecture (WSA) and commissioned by WWF, the report is timed to coincide with the start of the election, it identifies key practices for designers, planners and developers to make energy efficient and low impact houses the norm in Wales.

“Unfortunately, most houses in Wales have a negative impact on the environment because of the way they are designed and built. This guide offers key guidelines for ways to make homes more environmentally friendly,” said Haf Roberts, Policy Officer for WWF-UK in Cardiff.

The report, Building a Future for Wales: A Strategy for Sustainable Housing, highlights ways to make houses more efficient in terms of their use of energy, water and materials.

It includes examples of housing developments built to high environmental standards in Wales, such as in Butetown, Cardiff where solar thermal panels and flax roof insulation have been used on a new housing estate, demonstrating what can be achieved by incorporating sustainability principles at a local government level.

Ruth Bates, communications officer for WWF in Cardiff, told edie news that this is likely to be an important issue for voters.

“There is an increasing demand for housing in Wales, particularly in Cardiff, and it is something we will be bringing up with candidates as they start campaigning.”

Ms Bates said that the National Assembly had a legal duty toward standards for eco-homes as part of the Sustainable Development Action Plan, but so far, she had seen nothing come of it.

“Wales needs developments like BedZed in Surrey. The Wales Development Agency is looking to develop the Ely Bridge area – now this would be a perfect opportunity to meet all the forthcoming standards on energy performance in buildings and could be a real showcase for Wales,” she added.

Heating, lighting and appliances account for approximately 27% of all CO2 emissions in the UK. Despite this, neither the Welsh Assembly nor the Government in England have introduced mandatory efficiency standards for new buildings, relying instead on voluntary codes.

The WWF report identifies energy efficiency appliances for heating and lighting; use of low allergy and environmentally friendly material; water efficiency through better sanitary fittings and drainage; provision for recycling and composting; and materials sourced from local or sustainable sources as the most important factors for building sustainable homes.

By David Hopkins

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