New home quality mark designed to battle fuel poverty in the UK

New home quality mark designed to battle fuel poverty in the UK

BRE E4 brick home under construction in Watford.

Homes in Britain are among the oldest in Europe, and the cost of heating properties that leak heat is leading to fuel poverty for many residents.

The Guardian newspaper reports that more than a million working households in Britain are in fuel poverty, which means the cost of fuel for heating and cooling homes significantly depletes the household budget.

That's one of the reasons building science center BRE introduced a national quality mark for new housing in the United Great Britain that will transform the way consumers choose the homes they buy and rent and allow house builders to differentiate themselves in the marketplace at a time of rapid growth.

Using a simple 5-star rating, the Home Quality Mark will give home buyers and renters a clear indication of the quality and performance of a new home. It will illustrate the home's overall running costs at a time when average energy bills top £1000. It will show the impact of the home on the occupant's health and wellbeing as homes become more airtight, respiratory conditions rise and our population gets older. It will also demonstrate the home's environmental footprint and its resilience to flooding and overheating in a changing climate. Additionally the mark will evaluate the digital connectivity and performance of the home as the speed, reliability and connectivity of new technology becomes ever more critical.

The Home Quality Mark comes in the absence of any third party approval stamp covering these issues that consumers can use when making the most significant investment of their lifetime.

Recent consumer research carried out by BRE supports the introduction of the Home Quality Mark with 97% of respondents in a survey saying they would welcome it. For house builders it will provide a valuable independent quality mark they can use to highlight the innovative features of their homes and differentiate themselves in the marketplace at a time of rapid growth and change A number of leading stakeholders are currently working with BRE on the development of the mark from its current beta testing stage.

Chief Executive of BRE, Dr. Peter Bonfield says "It is our long term goal that the Home Quality Mark will become the de facto sign of a better home – something that home buyers can rely on and use in their purchase decisions. It will also be used by house builders to demonstrate the quality and performance of the homes they deliver."

Homes built to the mark will be independently evaluated by licensed BRE Global assessors and developments built to standards like Passivhaus and the Code for Sustainable homes can be credited under the mark where compatible criteria apply. As a voluntary mark, it signals a significant departure from previous codes and standards.

The BRE E4 home uses a foam block foundation for insulation. 

CALA Homes, one of the UK's top ten house builders plan to trial the mark. Its Chief Executive Alan Brown said ‘Independent benchmarking of new homes is hugely important. For CALA, it provides third party recognition of our commitment to consistently build high quality, sustainable homes. For homeowners, it offers a simple and reliable measure of the energy performance of the property they are buying. We look forward to working with BRE on the new Home Quality Mark.'

Currently the mark is being trialled by building products manufacturer Wienerberger on a new project called the E4 brick house which is under construction on the BRE Innovation Park in Watford.

Read more about green building certifications.

Topics: Building Green, Certification / LEED, Energy Audits, Exteriors, Foundations, Going Green, Heating & Cooling, Insulation

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