Building sustainable homes

Project Scope

Provide a Home Quality Mark (HQM) assessment report to support a detailed planning application for a proposed housing development in Romford, Essex. The proposed development includes 45 units built in four typologies, and one caretaker’s cottage. The HQM report shows the impact of the proposed development on the occupants’ health and wellbeing, and enables the housing developers to showcase the sustainability and quality of the new homes. HQM has been developed by BRE, the UK’s leading building science centre, and is part of the BREEAM family of quality and sustainability standards.

Tools For Implementing Tasks

The assessment scored a wide range of criteria based on the key interests of the occupants, developers and planners to demonstrate the quality and sustainability of the project. The results of the assessment showed whether the proposed development met HQM minimum requirements.

Challenges For Implementing Tasks

As the HQM report was for a proposed and not completed development, some of the criteria could not be assessed until the building work is finished. For example the visual defects inspection to ensure the home is finished and habitable. In some cases the assessment relies on the developer’s commitment to sustainable development rather than actions already taken, such as providing demonstrations to occupants when the move in so that they know how to operate and maintain their home.


The report assesses an extensive range of sustainability and quality criteria, and gives recommendations to the project team for when the building starts. These include recommending thermal analysis is carried out using the HQM comprehensive methodology, and consulting with the on-site ecologist to maximise the ecological value of the development. The sustainability and quality criteria covered in the report includes:

  • Sustainable transport options
  • Ecological risks and opportunities
  • Private or shared space
  • Flood risk assessment
  • Security
  • Indoor pollutants
  • Temperature
  • Ventilation
  • Sustainable materials
  • Recyclable waste
  • Internal and external water usage
  • Considerate construction
  • Minimising construction site impacts
  • Construction record – inspection and completion
  • Site waste management
  • Customers experience – sustainable management
  • Post-occupancy Evaluation (POE)

Key Achievements

The proposed development is rated 3.5 stars out of a possible five. Following the results of the assessment, the project team aimed to achieve an overall four stars. The information and data collected during the assessment could be shared with the project team, and requirements and key considerations flagged up in the report shared with all trade and site operatives.

Benefits For Clients

The HQM assessment report strongly supports the developer’s planning application by demonstrating its commitment to a sustainable development and future sustainability requirements. If the project goes ahead, the report enables the developer to provide impartial information about the quality of the homes it is building, and indicates to buyers and renters the expected overall costs, health and wellbeing benefits, and environmental footprint associated with living in their new home.