The Building Research Establishment launched the Home Quality Mark in March at Ecobuild, the sustainable build trade show. It had been brewing a little while at BRE, as a more commercially acceptable standard for New Build Homes than the Code for Sustainable Homes. There are some that argue that the Code was too restrictive, but it did decrease carbon emissions in buildings and represented a standard that could be used to show sustainability targets. It is a shame that it was scrapped because within the Government’s previous step change plan in 2016 we would be looking at all new developments built to Code Level 6 or Zero Carbon (I know, it may not have been achieved even if it was still in operation, but…)

It is important to ensure that when buildings are in operation they are at least close to the aspirations of the design, and if they are not operating as designed (i.e. using a lot more energy than was proposed at design stage) then this should be addressed, as in a number of cases identifying these issues can lead to improved future designs and better experiences for the users of the buildings.

Post Occupancy is something that is included within the Home Quality Mark umbrella, under Aftercare, Commissioning, Home Information and Post Occupancy Evaluation, therefore this is an area that is addressed more fully than with CSH. There are an increase in the total number of issues and there is a massive increase in the amount of credits available.

There are 35 issues in total divided into three sections, however these 35 issues have more subsections and more points in them than the code for Sustainable Homes. It is a more complex scoring system than the Code and the weighting system is more complex. The Housing Quality Mark has included a number of items that are also in BREEAM assessment.

Whilst there were benefits to building to Code from the point of view of ecology mortgages, it was widely reported that house buyers were not really interested in the Code rating or particularly the energy rating of potential homes. The Home Quality Mark looks to appeal to the house buyers more than Code did. Even in saying this, personally I think that the Code added to build quality and although not widely understood by consumers looked to reduce the cost of the building in use.

It is focused on the benefit to the occupant, the three headings are: Our Surroundings, My Home and Knowledge Sharing.

A lot of the issues within the Housing Quality Mark are included within the Code For Sustainable Homes, but there are some issues that are adapted from BREEAM. The weighting system is much more complex it would be difficult to tell the indicative credits you would need to achieve the star ratings, but given the number of credits and the additional issues, it would seem to be an additional challenge to achieve the same rating under Housing Quality Mark. That being taken into account there are many issues that would be an advantage to have under Housing Quality Mark. For example Life Cycle Costing could prove an asset if there was ongoing maintenance issues and Post Occupancy Evaluation and Aftercare could help to close the Performance Gap.

There are some credits that will likely be awarded without effort on the part of the design team such as transport or air pollution, however it seems that the Housing Quality Mark is more challenging but also indicates better quality to the end user.

References–1059.html, accessed 15/04/2016, accessed 15/04/2016, accessed 15/04/2016, accessed 15/04/2016, accessed 15/04/2016

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