ARCHIVE: Flood protection in new buildings

Code for Sustainable Homes

The Code for Sustainable Homes is a voluntary initiative by Government and the building industry designed to promote and transform the industry towards more sustainable practices. It is intended that the code will become the national standard for sustainable buildings and that all those involved in the building industry will work to these standards. Buildings which comply with the code should be perceived as more marketable and of a higher quality.

Flood resilience for new buildings

CLG Sustainable Buildings Division and the Environment Agency sponsored a joint research project to develop guidance on improving the flood resilience of new buildings. The project was managed by CIRIA. A comprehensive literature search revealed that most existing guidance was based on assessments of building techniques rather than controlled tests of materials or forms of construction. These findings supported the project plan that included tests in a hydraulics laboratory. The test process involved testing materials and then forms of construction such as walls or floors.

A risk assessment showed that resistance to flooding (ie measures to prevent or at least minimise the entry of floodwater into properties) to an excessive depth would not be safe. There was uncertainty whether some forms of construction could resist a water depth greater than 60cm - at greater depth there is risk of damage to the building, either from pressure of the water itself or from impacts from debris. This led to the project being steered towards resilience solutions (ie measures to reduce the consequences of water incursion) rather than resistance. Most of the testing involved walls, ie to subject walls to wetting from one side to depths of 1 metre then immersion both sides for 3 days followed by a 7 day period of drying to show the rate of seepage and how readily the walls would dry out.

Technical guide Improving the Flood Performance of New Buildings: Flood Resilient Construction was published on 15 May 2007 by RIBA Publishing, ISBN 978 1 85946 287 4, as the final output of this part of the project. The guide is also available on the CLG website. It covers the nature of flooding and the planning process; design strategies and the options of avoidance, resistance and resilience; building techniques; and a summary of the research done. A CLG press release gives further details.

Page last modified: 15 May 2009
Page published: 23 July 2008