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Code for Sustainable Homes and Rainwater Harvesting

Code for Sustainable Homes and Rainwater Harvesting

Matching the Code for Sustainable Homes means taking account of rainwater harvesting and water consumption – factors which can substantially increase a home’s sustainability rating.  Despite this, simple measures that can be taken to match the requirements are often overlooked.


The Code for Sustainable Homes was set up in April 2007. It has since been incorporated into building regulations, and retitled as “the new national technical standards”. It was a voluntary national standard designed to improve the overall sustainability of new homes allowing them to be constructed to the highest possible environmental standards. Installing features designed to meet this code will reduce potential running costs for the householder, as well as making the house much more sustainable thus helping to combat environmental problems.


Under the terms of the code, houses are given a sustainability rating from one star to six stars, with six being the highest possible level.  The more stars that a home possesses, the lower the level of mains water consumption involved.  A house meeting Code levels 1 and 2 involves a consumption level of around 150 litres per person per day.  A six star house on the other hand seeks to reduce mains water consumption to 80 litres per day. By the end of this year, all housing and private build housing are expected to be achieving six star status.


The installation of rainwater storage can make a significant contribution towards meeting the required standards.  Under the terms of the code, houses must have suitable rainwater collectors such as rainwater butts.  These collectors must possess no open access at the top of the collector, although a child proof lid is allowed.  Each collector must also have a tap in order to draw off the water. Rainwater butts can be mounted on walls or on the ground attached to drainpipes.  Designs can vary.  The 100l wall mounted butt is almost rectangular and actually covers part of the drainpipe whereas the 200l slim wall hung water butt is square in design. Although most of the butts are green, there are some alternatives available for those who want something different.  The 100l wall mounted butt can be obtained in both black and sandstone. There are even butts like the Evergreen Water Butt with a massive 475 litre capacity that look like a tree trunk or even the Helena Butt which resembles a massive Roman urn. Particularly striking is the Natura 2 in 1 water tank beach with top planter and the Maurano Stone Effect Water Butt possessing a massive 300 litre capacity.


Under the Code, the butts have to be connected to the downpipe and have an automatic overflow into the drainage system.  Each butt must be able to removed from the down pipe and sufficiently accessible that it can be cleaned. Additional water storage capacity can be created underground and pumped into top water butts when required by the homeowner.


Minimum storage volume requirements are set down by the code. These are based on whether the home has a garden or patio/terrace.  Homes possessing a patio or terrace have a minimum rainwater storage requirement of 100 litres. This figure rises to 150 litres for a 1 to 2 bedroom home with private garden, while a home with 3 or more bedrooms possessing a private garden should have water storage facilities totaling at least 200 litres.


Rainwater harvesting equipment is clearly essential to the creation of any sustainable home. Taking a close look at what is available and choosing wisely makes sense. It can make a tremendous difference to the sustainability of the house, making it more attractive to the cost conscious and environmentally conscious home buyer.

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