We are able to advise on how construction can ease the burden on the environment.

Gateley Vinden is conscious that construction must become more ‘green’ and is committed to providing a more ethical service and assist other stakeholders to do the same.

We provide the following monitoring and assessment services to achieve approved or better ratings for our construction clients

  • Code for Sustainable Homes
  • BFL 12
  • Housing Quality Indicators (HQIs)
  • SAP calculations
  • EPCs
  • Air Leakage Testing
  • Water Efficiency Calculations
  • Sustainability Appraisals
  • Home Quality Mark (HQM) – to be launched in Autumn 2015

Our consultants can help you develop sustainability strategies that work with your designs. We pride ourselves in being efficient and cost effective.

Chris Duffill, Managing Director

Code for Sustainable Homes Assessments

Gateley Vinden is fully certified to provide Code for Sustainable Homes assessments. Numerous staff are certified with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to provide these services.

Code for Sustainable Homes Assessments has been created to assess new-build homes only and provide an independently verified environmental assessment of individual dwellings. Homes are graded on a scale of Levels 1-6.

The Code for Sustainable Homes assessment method give a credible label to homes and demonstrate the following:

  • Sustainability credentials to planning authorities to assist smooth passage through the planning process.
  • Green credentials to investors, owners and inhabitants.

Superior environmental design resulting in:

  • Reduced running costs through greater energy, water efficiency and reduced maintenance
  • Healthy comfortable and flexible internal environments
  • Less dependence on the car and other transport methods
  • Giving developers an advantage with development regulations.


Gateley Vinden provides BREEAM assessment services. We employ in house BREEAM licensed assessors under BRE Global Certification.

The BREEAM New Construction Scheme can be used to assess the environmental life cycle impacts of new non-domestic buildings at the design and construction stages. ‘New Construction’ is defined as a development that results in a new standalone structure, or new extension to an existing structure, which will come into operation / use for the first time upon completion of the works.

The BREEAM New Construction scheme is applicable to new non-domestic buildings in the UK only.

Gateley Vinden is licenced for offices, industrial, education, healthcare, higher education, courts, prisons and retail buildings.

Aims of BREEAM

  1. To mitigate the life cycle impacts of buildings on the environment.
  2. To enable buildings to be recognised according to their environmental benefits.
  3. To provide a credible, environmental label for buildings.
  4. To stimulate demand for sustainable buildings.

Building for Life 12 (BFL12)

Our team are able to carry out your BFL12 assessments for your planning applications. Building for Life 12 (BFL12) is the industry standard for the design of new housing developments.

The aim of this assessment is to create better places for people to live.

It used a traffic light system rather than a point score. A well designed scheme should perform well against all 12 of the new questions – the top score being 12 Greens.

  • Green shows the design of the scheme has responded positively to the question.
  • Red elements identify aspects of proposals that need to be changed and where the scheme design at the time of assessment fails to respond to the question positively.
  • Amber is used where there is clear evidence of local constraints on the scheme beyond the control of the design team that prevent it from achieving a green.

Standard Assessment Procedures (SAPs)

The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is also run by the Building Research Establishment (BRE).

All new domestic developments require SAP Calculations and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) under Building Regulations Approved Documents L1a. this is a detailed measurement of the overall energy efficiency of the property.

Building materials, heating systems and the like are measured against stock values provided by the Government. Every dwelling in a development is assessed and given a Target Emission Rate (TER) and Target Fabric Energy Efficiency (TFEE) which must be achieved to pass Building Regulations.

Gateley Vinden can produce the assessments and advise generally on how assessments can be improved.

Energy Performance Certificate

Energy Performance Certificates have been introduced to help improve the energy efficiency of all buildings. Since October 2008, all properties – homes, commercial and public buildings – when bought, sold, built or rented need an EPC.

Gateley Vinden has a number of fully qualified and accredited energy assessors that produce EPCs alongside an associated report which suggests improvements to make a building more energy efficient. The EPC can be provided for new build dwellings – if dealing with a new build, most of the information required will be shown on planning drawings and in the specifications of a development and rarely requires a site visit. However, for existing buildings, a site visit is required.

Water Efficiency Calculations

Part G Building Regulations changed on 6 April 2010 and all new homes and conversions are now required to meet new water efficiency targets.

This means that Building Control will now be asking for calculations to show that no more than 125 litres of potable water per person, per day, are used in all new houses and conversions. In practice, this means that developers will now have to consider what types of taps, showers, WCs, baths and other appliances they will be fitting.

We are very experienced in potable water calculations and there are two main routes for developers to take. Firstly, rainwater harvesting systems can be installed to capture rainwater and reuse it in WCs, washing machines and outside taps.

These systems can have a very significant effect on reducing potable water consumptions to under the maximum 125 l/p/d.

Alternatively, reduced flow taps and showers, more efficient WCs, dishwashers and washing machines and sometimes smaller baths will need to be installed.

We can provide the formal calculations now required by Building Control as well as guidance on what types of taps, showers etc. will need to be fitted.

We would recommend these are done early in the build process to ensure the proposed fittings will meet these new requirements.

Housing Quality Indicators (HQIs)

Housing Quality Indicators (HQIs) look to assess housing schemes in terms of quality rather than in terms of financial value or simply achieving minimum standards.

The calculation assesses a housing project in three main categories; location, design and performance. These three categories produce ten individual indicators that produce a score expressed as a percentage. Whilst a percentage score is easy to understand in numerical terms, it is equally important to focus on “quality profiles” which show the strengths and weaknesses of a scheme.

The need to carry out HQIs is an essential requirement of the current Homes and Communities Agency’s Scheme Development Standards for social housing schemes attracting Housing Association Grant Funding.

Gateley Vinden has carried out in excess of a thousand HQI calculations for over 50 Housing Associations, Developers and Consultant Clients. Our familiarity with the HQI calculation process means we offer a cost-effective solution to your HQI calculation requirements.

  • HQI scores carried out directly onto the Homes and Communities Agency’s online IMS system.
  • Advice on improvement of HQI scores to meet Homes and Communities Agency requirements.
  • Calculations produced at all key stages of the development / construction process.
  • Early warning if changes to a scheme impact on HQI scores thereby potentially affecting Grant Funding.
  • Issue of regular summary report listing all schemes and scores which act as a useful reminder when development information is require.

Sustainability Appraisals

Our Sustainability team will work alongside the design team to provide expert guidance on sustainability issues to ensure the most suitable and cost effective solutions. We can provide Sustainability Statements to support planning applications.

Many Local Planning Authorities require a Sustainability Statement to be submitted as part of a planning application. This is often combined with a requirement to provide a reduction in carbon emission / energy use of the building through onsite generation of energy using Low or Zero Carbon (LZC) and Renewable energy technologies.

The local planning authority may also require the development to achieve a particular Code for Sustainable Homes or BREEAM rating; credits are available within these schemes for utilising LZC technology to provide a percentage reduction in CO2 emissions.

Our Sustainability Statement will typically cover the following issues:

  • Predicted Energy Use
  • Water consumption
  • Site ecology
  • Local Community and Transport
  • Flood Risk
  • Materials

Air Leakage Testing

Air tightness of a building is also known as ‘air permeability’ and when measured is referred to as the building air leakage rate.

Air leakage can occur through gaps, holes and cracks in the fabric of the building envelope (service penetrations, wall / roof junctions etc.), which are not always visible.

Air leakage affects the building’s performance and is one of the key areas in meeting or exceeding Building Regulations Part L standards for low carbon buildings, Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM.

Making a building air tight reduces the amount of fuel needed to heat it, which in turn reduces the CO2 produced, reduces your carbon footprint and your energy bills.

The air tightness strategy should be developed in line with the fabric and ventilation proposals.

Part L of the Buildings Regulations requires that all non-domestic buildings, which have a gross floor area greater than 500m2, be subject to mandatory air permeability tests.

For domestic dwellings, as a minimum, a representative sample of houses (in a development) must be tested.

2010 Regulations

An air test is not required for every dwelling on a site; a test is required on three units of each dwelling type or 50% of each dwelling type, whichever is the least.

For dwellings that have undergone a pressure test, their respective values are then incorporated within the SAP assessment. Dwellings that are not to be tested are liable to have a confidence applied to their correlating results from the plots actually tested. The applicable confidence factor is currently set at 2m3/(h.m2) at 50Pa. Developers should be aware of this when agreeing to design stage air leakage rate.

We recommend that all units are tested to avoid the penalty.

Home Quality Mark (HQM) – to be launched in Autumn 2015


This national quality mark will give people the confidence that the new homes they are choosing to buy or rent are well designed and built and cost effective to run. It will also allow house builders to demonstrate the high quality of their homes and to differentiate them in the marketplace.

The Home Quality Mark provides impartial information from independent experts on a new home’s quality. It clearly indicates to householders the overall expected costs, health and wellbeing benefits, and environmental footprint associated with living in the home. The Mark helps everyone to fully understand the quality, performance and attributes of a new build home.

Brought to you by BRE, the UK’s leading building science centre, the Home Quality Mark is based on years of building standards experience. It is part of the BREEAM family of quality and sustainability standards.

The Home Quality Mark is a rigorous and relevant standard for new homes, using a simple 5-star rating to provide impartial information from independent experts on a new home’s design and constructions quality and running costs.

It will also show the impact of the home on the occupant’s health and wellbeing, as buildings become more airtight, respiratory conditions rise and our populations gets older. It will demonstrate the home’s environmental footprint and its resilience to flooding and overheating in a changing climate. In addition, 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 will enable housing developers to showcase the quality of their new homes and identify them as having the added benefits of being likely to need less maintenance, cheaper to run, better located and more able to cope with the demands of a changing climate.

Sustainability FAQ's

What are SAPs?

The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is adopted by Government as the UK methodology for calculating the energy performance of dwellings. The SAP rating is based on the energy costs associated with space heating, water heating, ventilation and lighting, less cost savings from energy saving technologies. Every dwelling within a new development is assessed and given a Target Emission Rate which must be achieved to pass Building Regulations Part L. The SAP rating is expressed on a scale of 1 to 100, the higher the number the lower the running costs. SAPs are now used to produce Energy Performance Certificates for new build dwellings.

What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?

An Energy Performance Certificate provides an ‘A’ to ‘G’ rating for a building, with ‘A’ being the most energy efficient and ‘G’ being the least, with the average now being a ‘D’. Since October 2008 EPCs are required whenever a building is built, sold or rented.

What is a HQI?

Housing Quality Indicators (HQIs) look to assess housing schemes in terms of quality rather than in terms of financial value or simply achieving minimum standards. The calculation assesses a housing project in three main categories: location, design and performance. These three categories produce ten individual indicators that produce a score expressed as a percentage. Whilst a percentage score is easy to understand in numerical terms, it is equally important to focus on “quality profiles” which show the strengths and weaknesses of the scheme.

What is a Code for Sustainable Homes assessment (CfSH)?

The Code measures the sustainability of a home against the nine categories of sustainable design, rating the ‘whole home’ as a package. The Code uses a 1 to 6 star rating system to communicate the overall performance of a new home. It sets minimum standards for energy and water use at each level and, within England, replaces the EcoHomes scheme.


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