Published: Friday, 15 December 2023

Oxford’s journey to becoming a net-zero carbon city by 2040 has received a £150,000 investment by the government to explore a new approach to funding retrofitting projects within the city.

Oxford City Council and Low Carbon Hub have been awarded £150,000 from Innovate UK's Net Zero Living program for their ‘FutureFit Area Based Insetting’ (FABI) project.  

The project aims to explore how localised 'insetting' can be used to help fund retrofitting projects across the city and support its net-zero journey.  

Oxford has a goal to become a net zero carbon city by 2040, with buildings accounting for approximately 60% of Oxford’s carbon emissions. However, finance is a key barrier for many organisations when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint of their buildings.  

Oxford City Council and the Low Carbon Hub have been awarded £150,000 grant funding, alongside £7,244 match funding for their joint ‘FutureFit Area Based Insetting’ (FABI) project, which aims to explore a new approach to reducing non-residential building emissions. 

FutureFit Area Based Insetting  

Traditional offsetting is about businesses counteracting their own carbon emissions by investing in environmental projects - usually in any location around the world. 

Area based Insetting encourages organisations to invest and support local carbon-saving or environmentally beneficial projects within their own community - therefore supporting projects and initiatives which will directly benefit their local area.  

The £157,000 project aims to explore how encouraging investment from large local institutions and organisations into local initiatives can help small and medium organisations such as schools, community organisations, and others to decarbonise. This helps businesses in not only reducing their own carbon footprint but supports Oxford in achieving its net-zero goals. 

The project, which is being led by Oxford City Council, working in partnership with Low Carbon Hub, will focus in particular on how businesses can support both retrofitting and ‘FutureFit’ projects. 

The project builds upon an earlier feasibility study that was developed into a funding proposal for phase two of the Government's Pioneer Places scheme. Although funding was not granted for the full second phase proposal - the council was successful in its follow-up bid to explore local insetting.  

The Council will be working with partners to look at how other elements of the original project proposal can be advanced in other ways. 

Oxford City Council will act as a broker between businesses and retrofitting projects in order to ensure that the process is transparent and robust. 

Retrofit and ‘FutureFit’ 

The ‘FutureFit’ concept, which has been developed by project partner Low Carbon Hub looks at how buildings can transition away from gas to electricity, and can actively produce, store and use their own energy in a smarter and integrated way. 

It is an alternative to retrofitting, which is the process of making changes to your property, such as installing heat pumps, solar panels, loft insulation, and wall insulation.

The shift towards FutureFit will avoid network capacity issues as renewable energy installations increase in line with net-zero goals and ensure that occupants are in climate resilient buildings; minimising the risk of overheating.   

Local organisations that are interested in exploring area-based insetting and retrofitting, are encouraged to contact  

“Decarbonising buildings is a big part of Oxford’s journey to net zero. We also know that many businesses are concerned about their carbon footprint and are looking at ways they can make a difference. This new funding opportunity will allow us to explore how local businesses can directly support retrofitting and Future Fit projects within the city.”

Councillor Anna Railton, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Climate Justice at Oxford City Council

“In the context of the climate crisis and soaring energy costs, it has never been more important to reduce the amount of energy we use in our buildings.

“Research has shown that it is possible to achieve net zero and halve our total energy demand through the electrification of heating and transport. However, while our total energy demand will go down, our electricity use is likely to increase. Reducing the increase in electricity cost is crucial to achieve a fair transition to Net Zero. Investing in Future Fit and retrofit buildings is one solution we aim to explore.  

“We are looking forward to supporting Oxford City Council on this project and working together with local organisations on this approach.”

Barbara Hammond MBE, CEO of Low Carbon Hub

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