Standards and Certifications

Goal: Achieve an applicable level of sustainable accreditation with your design

District requirements

p161. There are additional requirements beyond Building Regulations in the adopted South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2011 – 2035.

p162. South Oxfordshire District Council has ambitious aspirations for reducing the district’s carbon emissions and is committed to becoming a carbon neutral district by 2030.

p163. Policy DES10 of the Local Plan specifies requirements above those of the 2013 Building Regulations, these are set out below:

p164. Policy DES10 requires a reduction in carbon emissions which steps up over time. For housing, it requires all new build residential dwelling houses, developments that include 1,000sqm or more of C2 use, and Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to achieve a percentage reduction in carbon emissions compared with the 2013 Building Regulations, starting at 40%.

p165. It also requires a percentage reduction in carbon emissions for all other major non-residential development (1,000sqm or more). This is in addition to requiring all non-residential proposals to meet the BREEAM excellent standard.

p166. These requirements apply to each individual dwelling and/or building and should not just be applied to the site as a whole, more detail is set out in the adjacent table.

South Oxfordshire Local Plan policy DES10

Figure 80

  Figure 61: Policy DES10: Carbon Reduction from the adopted South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2035


p167. BREEAM stands for the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. This is an assessment method used to measure and mark the environmental performance of a development, based on its design, specification, construction and operation over its lifespan.

Developments are rated and certified on a scale of:

  • Unclassified -30%
  • Pass +30%
  • Good +45%
  • Very good +55%
  • Excellent +70%
  • Outstanding +85%

p168. BREEAM benchmark compares an individual building’s performance with other BREEAM rated buildings and the typical sustainability performance of new non-residential buildings in the UK

p169. All new non-residential buildings within South Oxfordshire and the Vale are to meet BREEAM excellent standard. However, we understand that this may not always be appropriate due to the type of some developments and/or reasons of viability. For example, agricultural buildings that require planning permission and other buildings that may not require heating. In these cases, a request for a departure from BREEAM will need to be made and agreed between the applicant and the case officer. A statement setting out why the function of the building makes it inappropriate to meet the BREEAM excellent standard should be submitted as part of the application. A viability assessment will be required where an argument regarding viability is being made.

Factors to consider as per BREEAM assessment criteria:

  • Management
  • Pollution
  • Ecology
  • Energy
  • Water consumption
  • Efficiency
  • Materials
  • Waste
  • Transport
  • Health and wellbeing


BREEAM benchmarks and scoring

Figure 82

  Figure 62: The BREEAM rating benchmarks for projects assessed using the BREEAM International New Construction 2016


p170. Passivhaus is an energy performance standard for dwellings that can be adapted throughout the world. It was developed in Germany in 1990 and is primarily intended for new residential dwellings, although it can be applied to refurbishments or expansions.

p171. As the name indicates, Passivhaus focuses on a passive design approach to sustainability whilst optimising the renewable energy sources for active M&E systems. Ideally all new residential buildings within South Oxfordshire and the Vale should aim for Passivhaus certification. However, we understand that this may not always be appropriate due to some development types and/or reasons of viability. In these instances, developments should seek an optimised and balanced approach, using passive and active design methods, to reducing their development’s carbon footprint.

Factors to consider for Passivhaus:

  • Above standard specification of insulation
  • Air tightness
  • Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR)
  • Solar Gain (thermal massing)
  • Controlling Solar Gain (shading, natural and constructed)
  • Pre-emptive cooling of air
  • Night purging of air
  • Re-use internal heat sources


Passivhaus example (Shropshire)
Passivhaus example (Shropshire)

We strongly encourage:

    1. A fabric-first design approach is prioritised for the built form and its envelope, focusing on airtightness, high insulation, passive ventilation and the incorporation of renewable energy systems and technologies;
    2. modern methods of construction (MMC) are prioritised for the built form and its envelope;
    3. high efficiency and ultra-low energy fixed building services or infrastructure to help reduce regulated emissions.

We support:

    1. any development which goes beyond Part L Assessment under the Building Regulations;

      Note: DES10 of the adopted SODC Local Plan requires a 40% reduction in carbon emissions (compared with a code 2013 Building Regulations compliant base case, from renewable energy and other low carbon.
    2. all non-residential development aspires to meet BREEAM excellent standard**;

      Note: DES10 of the adopted SODC Local Plan requires all non-residential proposals meet BREEAM excellent standard, unless mitigating circumstances can be demonstrated.

Note: All design principles are applicable to all scales of development unless otherwise specified; *minor applications, **major applications