ALL NEW homes to be built in York will be subject to a strict national standard to pave the way for a greener future.

Under the new policy, agreed by City of York Council, all new homes built in York should be carbon neutral by 2016.

The council is one of the first in the country to implement the Code For Sustainable Homes Standard, launched by the Government late last year, as a way of assessing how environmentally friendly a new home is.

The code measures the sustainability of a new home against categories of sustainable design, rating the "whole home" as a complete package.

Under the new code, every new home built in York will have to meet minimum standards in energy and water efficiency, accessibility, energy, recycling, design and other sustainability issues.

The code uses a one to six star rating system to communicate the overall sustainability performance of a new home.

The Government has set a target for all new homes to be level six - that is carbon neutral - by 2016.

The code is part of a Planning Guidance On Sustainable Design And Construction that was approved by councillors last month, which will now be used to access all planning applications in York.

Coun Andrew Waller, executive member neighbourhoods on the city council, said: "The policy, which followed three months of public consultation, was adopted at the main planning committee on November 22. By adopting this, the council is taking strong steps to reduce the city's ecological footprint and to cut fuel bills by becoming more energy efficient in the process.

"This will also stimulate the market for renewable energy, and sustainable building materials which will benefit the whole city by reducing prices and generating local jobs."

The standard will also provide valuable information to home buyers, and offer builders a tool with which to differentiate themselves in sustainability terms. On average, 27 per cent of the country's carbon dioxide emissions (the main gas responsible for climate change) comes from how people use and run their homes.