DEFRA civil servant Bill Stow said the code, which is at draft stage, will set sustainability standards for government-funded housing that are higher even than building regulations.
Importantly, Stow said the code 'points the way to a higher standard that will become mandatory later on', even though its role will only be advisory for privately funded housing for the time being.
By doing this, Stow said DEFRA hopes to provide the private sector with some longer-term certainty about changes in standards, in contrast to the last-minute chaos over Part L.
Stow said that DEFRA had not simply used BRE's EcoHomes rating system as the new code because it wanted to 'put a government stamp on what they want to see'. However, he pointed out that 'it is clear there will be convergence' between the two in time.
In a 'sustainability round-up' - Stow is DEFRA's director general for environment - he noted that there is a current government review on existing buildings, exploring both regulation and fiscal incentives.
There is also a new draft strategy for the treatment of waste, including 'designing it out' and recycling.
Regulations for water-use efficiency and related product labelling are also being considered, partly in response to current water shortages in eastern and south-east England, which Stow said has become 'a much more important issue for government over the past few months'.