• Home Quality Mark Offers Consumers the Chance to Choose a Healthier, Smarter & Cheaper to Run Home

National standard aims to promote better home design to contribute to householders' improved living conditions

The UK’s new Home Quality Mark (HQM) is an impartial, 5-star rating scheme for new build homes that has been created to benefit householders across the UK. Registered HQM homes will result in reduced household energy bills, and contribute towards an improvement in householders’ health and wellbeing.

Created by BRE, the UK’s leading building science centre, which gift-aids its profits to the BRE Trust, a registered charity that works to improve the quality and sustainability of the country’s buildings and built environment, the HQM has been designed to empower and enhance the lives of both buyers and renters of new residential properties.

It is expected that new homes meeting the highest HQM criteria will be up to 50% more energy efficient than existing dwellings in the UK. Additionally, they are being built to ameliorate a wide range of health-related issues brought about by inferior quality housing. These include poor air quality, cramped and badly designed living spaces and the impacts of climate change, such as flooding.

Home Quality Mark HQM

With the number of annual deaths in the UK that occur due to a lack of heat predicted to rise by 257% by 2050, as well as 5.4million people suffering from asthma in the UK, improving air quality in the home is of increasing importance. With approximately three people dying every single day from this respiratory condition, a healthy indoor air environment underpinned by quality air filtration and humidity control in homes is required. Those living in properties with absent or inefficient heating systems are particularly vulnerable, as are fuel-poor families: those who spend 10% of their income on maintaining a satisfactory indoor temperature.

The HQM addresses a gap in the market and a public desire for a consumer-focused housing standard that is authoritative, clearly understandable and which communicates the immediate and tangible benefits of high quality housing. According to recent surveys conducted on behalf of BRE, over 65% of people said if they were buying or renting a property, it would be important for it to have sustainability features. One in five would be prepared to pay a higher price for a property with a sustainability stamp of approval[4].

Indicative of the high levels of industry support for HQM is the announcement that leading house builders HAB, CALA Homes, Lendlease, Kier, Pocket Living and Weinerberger are already contributing study sites across the UK in locations including London, Oxford, Royston, Sunderland, Watford, Winchester and Witney.

Of the new Mark, Simon McWhirter, Head of Communications and Sales at Kevin McCloud’s HAB, says “It’s incredibly difficult for house-buyers to make informed decisions about the environmental performance of their homes if they’re doing so in a vacuum, which in effect is the present situation following the demise of the Code for Sustainable Homes. So we’re excited to be involved in the development of the Home Quality Mark scheme. It’s essential that there is a clear mechanism in place that our customers can understand, trust and also that we as developers can rely on to demonstrate the benefits and quality of new homes.

Gwyn Roberts, BRE New Homes and Communities Team Leader, goes on to explain that ‘‘HQM aims to significantly contribute to the future of our housing industry, to set a new national standard and to become the de-facto sign of a better home. By talking directly to the consumer, we strive to encourage greater awareness and appreciation of the Mark’s merits and the varied and wide-reaching benefits it can bring to residents of all ages across the UK. The Government is aware of the Mark and is keeping a close eye on its progress.”

HQM will be exhibiting at Grand Designs Live, Birmingham from 8-11th October 2015, when it will be publicly showcased. A Public Consultation is now in progress, until 4 September 2015, inviting consumer and professional feedback and views.

New homes that meet the highest HQM criteria will:

• Be smarter and cheaper to run
• 50% more energy efficient – resulting in reduced household bills and wide cost savings
• Ameliorate a wide range of health related issues – owing to superior design

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