New build: Domestic and Non-domestic

Globally, the built environment accounts for 40-50% of natural resource use, 20% of water use, 30-40% of energy use and around a third of CO2 emissions. The new homes, offices and other buildings which the industry designs and develops every year are an opportunity to make sure that the built environment has a positive contribution to the environment, economy and our quality of life

New Homes

The local and national policy landscape for new homes In England has undergone significant streamlining and watering down over the last two years.

Zero carbon homes

In July 2015 the newly elected Conservative Government scrapped the longstanding targets for all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016. Read the Government's announcement in the Productivity Plan. UK-GBC has written a briefing on the history of the zero carbon policies and our response to the annoucement. We also released a press release and news story on the annoucements.

The zero carbon homes target was first annouced in December 2006, with staged improvements to the carbon emissions standard in building regulations set out en route to the 2016 target. The Government also introduced the Code for Sustainable Homes, against which all new homes would be rated, on a range of different sustainability measures.

The effect of the recent annoucement is to stall carbon emissions reductions from new buildings at the level set in the 2013 Building Regulations, with no new trajectory set out for furture standards.

Housing Standards Review

Until very recently Local Authorities have been able to set standards for housing and other development in their areas that are better than Building Regulations. Most commonly local authorities had used the Code for Sustainable Homes levels to communicate the performance standard required.

The Housing Standards Review completed in March 2015 was Government's 'radical and fundamental review of the entire framework of Building Regulations and voluntary housing standards' and removed from Local Authorities the ability to set higher standards for housing in their area. It also introduced a small number of additional nationally applicable standards. If you are a UK-GBC member, you can read our response to the connsultation on changes to housing standards.

UK-GBC has written a briefing on the impact of the changes as a result of the Housing Standards Review and the subsequent removal of the zero carbon policies. Read it here.

In summary, the scrapping of the zero carbon homes policy and the removal of Local Authorities' ability to require higher than Building Regulations standards in their areas, has resulted in a nationalised the standard to which all homes in England need to be built but has set this national standard at a low level of ambition. 

New Non-Domestic Buildings

Although the July 2015 announcement that the Government has scrapped the zero carbon policy for new homes did not specifically mention non-domestic buildings, it has subsequently been confirmed that the expected target for new non-domestic buildings to be zero carbon in 2019 has also been scrapped.

Although the technical detail on the zero carbon standards for new non-domestic buildings had not yet been established, the industry had undertaken significant work on preparing for the standard. UK-GBC members came together in 2013 within a Task Group to help build consensus on an ambitious definition for zero carbon for non domestic buildings, which reported in February 2014. At the time of the announcement UK-GBC members had embarked upon a second Task Group to further progress this work.

The Housing Standards Review nationalised standards for new homes only, so Local Authorities are still enabled to require better than Building Regulations standards for new non-domestic buildings in their areas. The most common tool used by Local Authorities to express the standard required is BREEAM. 

UK-GBC members are currently inputting into our new piece of work that will explore industry approaches, tools and behaviours to reduce the ‘gap’ between the expectations of building users, designers and managers, and how new buildings perform when occupied. The delivering building performance research will focus on energy performance and link to our work on health, wellbeing and productivity.


The Building Research Establishment's Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is the most widely used building rating tool in the UK.

The UK-GBC has continued to consult with its members over the content and future of BREEAM. In August 2010 UK-GBC published an independent report which contains a number of recommendations on the future of BREEAM. BRE Global supported the consultation process and has responded to the points raised by UK-GBC members, for more details see here.

UK-GBC members have also provided feedback to BRE on the most recent version of BREEAM, the 2014 version. The response can be found here.

The BREEAM New Construction 2014 manual can be found here.