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Sustainable building standards

Sustainability is central to all our policies, strategies, activities, programmes, projects and services.

As a consumer of resources the built environment construction, use, refurbishment and disposal at end of life has a major impact on the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the people of Wales.

We ensure that the support we offer and investment decisions we make on providing infrastructure give long term sustainable solutions. 
We require all new buildings promoted or supported by us or our Sponsored Bodies (SBs) meet our sustainable building standards, with some exceptions. This includes projects procured directly and indirectly.

These standards are:

  • For residential development, a minimum Code for Sustainable Homes level 3,
  • For non-residential development, with some exceptions for smaller buildings, Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) excellent or an equivalent quality assured scheme,
  • In all new buildings at least 10% of the total value of materials used should be recycled or reused materials or products.

For extensions, alterations or refurbishment, the above are not required, but we require an energy efficient solution.

Types of buildings that are included

The types of buildings include:

  • buildings we directly fund,
  • buildings by local authorities, public sector, voluntary sector and SB’s funded by one of our specific capital programmes, such as affordable housing, schools, further and higher education, hospitals and other public buildings,
  • buildings on developments where we enter into a joint venture agreement with partners or developers, including the public, private or voluntary sectors,
  • buildings on land for sale, or lease or to be disposed of for development by us,
  • buildings on land we improve or reclaim or through SB funding that is still subject to financial clawback,
  • Buildings constructed by the private and voluntary sector, other organisations or individuals, under our funding schemes "and programmes".

Design standards

Development Quality Requirements

New and second hand housing developed by Registered Social Landlords utilising Social Housing Grant is required to comply with our Development Quality Requirements which sets out basic requirement relating to space and amenity

Welsh Housing Quality Standard

Existing social housing needs to reflect the aspirations of tenants. To help achieve this we published the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS). This standard requires all social landlords to improve their homes to an acceptable level.

21st Century Schools

We are working with the Welsh Local Government Association and local authorities on the 21st Century Schools Programme (external link). It is a major, long-term capital investment programme aimed at developing schools fit for the 21st century.

Sustainable Schools Wales

As part of the 21st Century Schools Standard for Schools in Wales an online guide has been developed to help with understanding and applying sustainable design in school design and refurbishment.

Guidance is available on the Sustainable Schools Wales website (external link).


We are keen to modernise the NHS Estate in Wales. It is a key to improving the delivery of healthcare services for the people of Wales. The modernisation of the estate will require the procurement of high quality facilities, appropriate to the current and future. See the NHS Wales website (external link) for more information.

Policy review

The Sustainable Buildings Standards policy is currently under review. The review has been prompted by changes to building regulations energy requirements (Part L), changes made to the BREEAM scheme and potential changes proposed in the 2016 building regulations sustainability review. Following the decision by the Department for Communities and Local Government to withdraw the Code for Sustainable Homes the housing element of  the Sustainable Building Standards policy is being considered separately.

Since 2009 the policy has resulted in 126 developments achieving Excellent at design stage and 84 at post construction stage.