Oxford has been recognised as a Net Zero leader in combatting climate change, having been awarded £75,000 feasibility funding by the government to help accelerate Oxford’s transition to Net Zero.
Oxford has a goal to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions across the city as a whole by the year 2040 - ten years ahead of the legal deadline set by Government.
Oxford City Council is one of 30 councils that have been successful in the Net Zero Living Programme fund from Innovate UK.
The successful £74,911 bid, led by Oxford City Council and the Low Carbon Hub, will explore the creation of a new 'one stop shop' for residents and businesses seeking retrofit services for their homes and premises, while also strengthening the local supply chain - through an innovative "FutureFit" concept.
The 'FutureFit' approach includes utilising smart technology and design, so that it is easier for businesses and residents to make changes to help reduce energy consumption and reduce the impacts of climate change.
The grant will fund a feasibility study into how Oxford can take the next steps to achieving Net Zero, by addressing specific challenges for commercial, industrial, and domestic projects, looking at issues around power, heat, mobility, product manufacturing and usage.
With buildings accounting for approximately 60% of Oxford’s overall carbon footprint, a particular area of focus and challenge includes the retrofitting of Oxford’s diverse buildings.
The Council will be leading on the study alongside Low Carbon Hub. Other partners include the University of Oxford, Lucy Group, Oxfordshire County Council, and Oxford Brookes University, as well as ODS, Centre for Net Zero, and Arup.
Following the results of the study, the Council will decide whether to apply for phase two of the funding, which will grant up to £8 million to help deliver the solutions identified.
Oxford City Council has a history of innovation in its work to achieve its Net Zero ambition. Oxford City Council founded the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership in 2021, and Oxford has previously hosted two of the four UK Smart Energy Demonstrators: Project LEO and the Energy Superhub Oxford.
It also supported the launch of the Low Carbon Hub (LCH); a community energy business that now owns £25m of renewable energy assets, and whose profits are used for the benefit of the citizens of Oxfordshire.
“I am delighted that Oxford City Council has been recognised and awarded for the competitive Net Zero Living Programme. We have been working to accelerate carbon emissions reduction as a council and city for a number of years, and the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership demonstrates the level of commitment across the city.
“We know the size of the challenge and opportunity for the city. We know that we need to install rooftop solar and heat pumps in homes in the city - but in order to achieve this, there are some challenges that we need to address along the way.
“The Net Zero Living Programme funding allows us to continue to collaborate with the Zero Carbon Oxford Partnership, which will be critical to ensuring continued progress.
"This funding bid is a significant step to ensure that we are able to support residents and businesses transform their homes and buildings and that we are all able to move towards Net Zero together at the scale and pace required.”
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council
“In the context of the climate crisis, and with prices soaring, reducing the energy used in our buildings has never been more important to achieve at scale.
“Research by the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (led by a core team in Oxford and facilitating collaboration by academics from across the UK) has shown that it is possible to achieve net zero and halve our total energy demand. This relies on the electrification of heating and transport – so our total energy demand will go down, but our electricity use will increase. Minimising that increase is important to reduce the cost to energy users and ensure a fair transition to Net Zero.
“We, therefore, need to retrofit our existing buildings, to reduce the electricity needed for heating, and enable the uptake of smart technologies, to manage the electricity we do use in the most efficient way. The feasibility study funded by Net Zero Living Programme will pave the way for this to happen.”
Barbara Hammond MBE, CEO of Low Carbon Hub