This article provides an overview of the new HQM scheme and a brief summary of the energy related issues that it covers.
The Home Quality Mark is effectively BRE’s replacement for the Code for Sustainable Homes (CSH), following the government’s decision to phase out the CSH. This new scheme will be operational from January 2016, initially using a ‘beta’ version prior to the release of the full scheme in the summer of 2016.
It is a voluntary scheme, similar to the BREEAM schemes that are available for non-domestic buildings (and the EcoHomes scheme that preceded the CSH). It is hoped that housing developers will adopt it as a way of demonstrating the quality of the new homes they are building and that it will be recognised and sought after as such by prospective purchasers (or tenants). It has therefore been designed to be more consumer-oriented than previous environmental assessment methods, with much more focus on providing useful information for the occupant.
Each dwelling is assessed individually and the key output is an on-line ‘scorecard’ that shows an overall star rating (one to five stars) plus three additional scores (also one to five) for ‘My cost’, ‘My wellbeing’ and ‘My footprint’.
The assessment procedure has been designed to streamline data input, and allow pre-approval and ‘deemed to satisfy’ compliance for specific products. To obtain five stars, a dwelling will need to achieve 450 of the 500 credits available across a wide range of sustainability issues (all credits have an equal weighting).
There are many similarities with the previous schemes but some issues have been moved into new/re-named categories, and transport issues that were excluded from the CSH have been brought back in. There is also more focus on sharing knowledge and providing information, both to the dwelling occupants and to everyone involved in the house building industry.
The categories assessed are also divided into three sections, but these are structured differently from the three sections on the ‘scorecard’. The following table shows these three sections and how the categories are assigned to these:
|Our surroundings||Site context|
|Movement and connectivity|
|Safety and resilience|
|Comfort and health|
|Knowledge sharing||Home delivery|
Transport issues are included in the ‘Movement and connectivity’ category and this includes credits for providing electric vehicle charging points.
Most of the credits in the ‘Energy‘ category are allocated to two issues that use the SAP energy assessment as their starting point: the Home Energy Performance Ratio (HEPR) and energy cost. The credits for the HEPR aim to encourage “fabric first“ design to minimise heating energy demand, primary energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. The credits for energy cost are based on the SAP energy rating with additional credits where energy cost is reduced further by specifying details that improve on SAP assumptions, e.g. lighting efficacy, shower flow rates, energy efficient appliances. There are also credits in this category for external lighting, specifying low and zero carbon technologies (LZCTs) and minimising impact on local air quality (NOx emissions).
The comfort and health category includes credits for reducing the risk of summer overheating which is also based on SAP outputs with additional credits available for using more robust assessment methods or additional features (e.g. controls) to enable occupants to manage internal temperatures effectively.
The home delivery category covers issues that help to ensure that high quality is achieved in the construction of the home. This includes credits for performance gap training for operatives and for a fabric testing that goes beyond Building Regulations requirements (e.g. air pressure testing of every dwelling, early air pressure testing (before first fix), thermographic testing and co heating or heat flux tests).