BLOG: Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership: 2021 in review

Published: Thursday, 13th January 2022

With COP26 taking place at Glasgow last year, the theme of how individuals and businesses reduce their own carbon emissions was a key topic of conversation both in the UK, around the world.

Here in Oxford, 2021 saw the creation of the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership (ZCOP), a partnership of leaders from major businesses and organisations across the city giving their support to the ambition of achieving net zero carbon emissions as a city by 2040. 

The Partnership has had a busy year, not only publishing the Zero Carbon Oxford roadmap and action plan for the city, but also establishing sprint groups to address initial steps in the action plan.

As well as this, partners are continuing to take major steps to deliver innovative projects that will help the whole city transition to a Zero Carbon Oxford by 2040.

We have listed a few of the 2021 achievements of organisations within the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership, you can find out more about the organisations that are involved at www.zerocarbonoxford.com

Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Brookes University is introducing a major technological advancement to significantly reduce carbon use on campus.

To further decarbonise Oxford Brookes’ activities on its Headington Campus, the University will install a Geo-Exchange Heating and Cooling System to displace the use of fossil fuels. It is estimated that the new system will help to reduce carbon emissions from the University’s Gipsy Lane site by approximately 20%. 

The technology reduces the environmental impact of the existing heating and cooling system, and Oxford Brookes will become the first UK university with an operational deep borehole system. The concept involves the capture of waste energy from cooling, storing it in the earth for later use as heat. 

Oxford Brookes is committed to a range of ambitious sustainability targets. In November 2021, the University declared a climate emergency and set out ambitious sustainability targets with an intention to become a net-zero organisation by 2040.

Find out more about their plans here.

SSEN

It’s been a busy year for SSEN particularly with its role in the Local Energy Oxfordshire Project (Project LEO). 2021 saw the start of the energy flexibility market trials, being delivered through a collaboration of Project LEO and the SSEN TRANSITION project. SSEN successfully tested their new flexibility market platforms ready for external companies in Oxfordshire to trade their flexibility through trials in 2022/23.

Energy flexibility will play a significant role in decarbonising the energy system and will support the changes they are making to how we power our cars, heat our homes and the connection of new local renewable generation.

SSEN was proud to have had a significant presence the COP26 and opportunities to engage internationally on the work it is doing to decarbonise the energy system and explore the potential energy flexibility can have in a smart local energy system of the future.

You can read about Project LEO’s presence at COP26 here.

Landsec

Landsec was the first commercial property company in the world to set a science-based carbon reduction target back in 2016. This ambition was further increased in 2019 when the Group aligned its science-based target with the 1.5 degrees global warming scenario – targeting a 70% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 compared with a 2013/14 baseline. Since setting the target, Landsec have made significant progress towards identifying and implementing a range of technologies to drive down carbon emissions.

To further demonstrate Landsec’s commitment, the Group announced in November 2021, the creation of a £135 million net zero transition investment plan. The fund will be used to finance a series of initiatives to reduce operational energy use and to move to cleaner sources of energy.

Overall, the programme will see 24,000 tonnes of carbon emissions removed from their operations. Initiatives will include the optimisation of building management systems using innovative AI technologies, a customer engagement programme to drive down consumption, and investing in renewable energy and replacing gas-fired boilers with electric systems such as Air Source Heat Pumps.

Oxford City Council

In February 2021, it was announced that public leisure centres in Oxford are getting £14million investment to cut carbon, as part of Oxford City Council’s plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Ferry Leisure, Barton Leisure, Leys Pool and Leisure, and Hinksey Outdoor Pool will all be benefiting from the decarbonisation programme. Leisure centres contribute around 40% of the City Council’s carbon footprint, and the upgrade work will see gas boilers replaced with heat pumps that transfer heat from the air or water, which will cut carbon emissions from the Council’s operations as a whole by around 21%.

The work is part of the Council’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis and become a Zero Carbon Council - aiming for an average yearly cut in its carbon emissions of 10%, every year until 2030.

Find out more about the leisure centre decarbonisation works here.

March 2021 saw the joint approval of the Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) Pilot by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinets. This means that in February 2022, Oxford will be one of the first places in Britain to introduce a ZEZ. The scheme aims to reduce toxic air pollution levels, help tackle the climate emergency and improve the health of residents, workers and visitors in Oxford and beyond.

Find out more about the Zero Emission Zone pilot here.

In November 2021, the Council launched its Oxford to Zero campaign, which will focus on three key areas of work: Zero Carbon Communities, Zero Carbon Council, and Zero Carbon Oxford. In particular, the campaign will focus on community engagement through the Zero Carbon Communities strand. November also saw Councillor Tom Hayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford attending COP26 in Glasgow alongside the UK100 network.

Find out more about Oxford to Zero here.

Lucy Group

Lucy Group is an active member of BEAMA, the UK trade association for manufacturers of energy infrastructure technologies and systems. Lucy Group works with BEAMA on a number of initiatives and was recently a sponsor of their Zero Carbon Homes campaign. This included a series of webinars on topics relating to the transition to low energy and sustainable homes, including heating, insulation, health, and infrastructure.

The series culminated in BEAMA publishing its Zero Carbon Homes report, which can be found here.