Environmental And Sustainability Standards Launched For Housebuilders

A set of new environmental construction standards for housebuilders that go far beyond current sustainability requirements under building regulations are being launched by the South East of England Development Agency (SEEDA).

The Green Charter, introduced in collaboration with Creative environmental Networks (CEN), looks at a host of environmental issues with regard to SEEDA's development at Queenborough and Rushenden on the Isle of Sheppey, North Kent, where around 2,000 homes, leisure and community facilities, employment, office and retail space, are set to be built over the next five to 10 years.

The Green Charter is part of a series of documents that form a comprehensive masterplan for the Queenborough and Rushenden area, which has been produced by SEEDA and has now been issued for pubic consultation by the local authority, Swale Borough Council.

It sets targets for the environmental performance of all new buildings, with energy and water sustainability targets at the heart of the agenda. Current plans include the potential for the installation of a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system serving the whole site, using biomass in the form of woodchip as the main fuel. This type of system simultaneously generates usable heat and electricity in a single process. Furthermore, because trees absorb the same amount of carbon during their lifetimes as they release when burned, they are almost carbon neutral when used as a fuel and therefore lead to significant carbon savings in comparison to fossil fuels. All homes connected to this system would need to meet the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and non-residential buildings would have a requirement to meet BREEAM "Excellent".

Additional measures include smart meters which would allow home owners to monitor their energy use at all times. The development would also seek to minimise resource use through a number of measures including only using timber which is reclaimed, recycled or sourced from sustainably managed forests.

The scheme will provide homeowners with access to both low cost and grant aided sustainable energy measures that will help improve the quality of their homes. Loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, draught proofing, efficient boilers and better heating controls are all part of long list of measures that often pay themselves back within a couple of years.

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