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Oxfordshire Zero Carbon Homes Initiative

Oxford Friends of the Earth is a thriving and effective local group that has been active for over 40 years. Our purpose is to work together to promote a healthy and sustainable environment

Welcome to the Oxfordshire Zero Carbon Homes Initiative

Around 25% of our carbon emissions come from housing.   As part of moves to ‘Net Zero’ emissions we need to: 
• dramatically improve the energy efficiency of our homes
• ensure that all new houses are built to be carbon neutral.

The Oxfordshire Zero Carbon Homes Initiative (OZCHI) has the aim that all new homes built in Oxfordshire will be designed to zero carbon standards*.   OZCHI is a partnership set up by Oxford Friends of the Earth in January 2020 (see below for who we are).

OZCHI is calling for all the councils in Oxfordshire, and the Oxfordshire Growth Board and the Local Enterprise Partnership to cooperate to “develop, set and implement a new common standard that will deliver net zero carbon homes” and also to work with the government and other agencies to make Oxfordshire a ‘Zero Carbon Homes Innovation Zone’.

We are very pleased  to see that the current consultation draught of the Oxfordshire 2050 spatial plan has as its first preferred policy an objective “to achieve net zero whole life carbon full both residential and non-residential buildings taking account of embodied carbon, low energy use and renewable energy supply”. This is in line with our principal campaign goal.

While we welcome this we recognise that the Oxfordshire Plan will not come into effect until at least 2023. We are continung to promote this aim and the plan for an Innovation Zone. We welcome inputs from any organisation that would like to work with us on these goals.  Our next step is to work with others on this event

Making the future the present: Delivering Zero Carbon Homes in Oxfordshire
Weds. March 30th 2022

This full-day event on the Elmsbrook eco-town site at Bicester will provide a deep-dive into Oxfordshire’s zero-carbon homes agenda and what to do next. OZCHI is running this event with Oxfordshire Greentech, Bioregional – supported and in partnership with OxLEP, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell DC and West Oxfordshire DC. Attendees will hear about Oxfordshire’s zero-carbon housing agenda, learn of the policies and frameworks that will determine future action, hear about inspiring case studies, and have the chance to see around the NW Bicester Eco Town site.

Book here:  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/making-the-future-the-present-delivering-zero-carbon-homes-in-oxfordshire-tickets-256862421417

Our last event:

The 2021 OZCHI Seminar – ‘Zero CarbonHomes in Oxfordshire: Making it Happen’.

On June 17th 2021 OZCHI held a webinar focusing on ways to achieve these goals. The discussion focused on:

  1. The Planning System
  2. Building regulations
  3. Affordability of Zero Carbon Homes
  4. Skills & Supply Chain gaps
  5. Building the political will

An introductory briefing is here.  A video of the presentations is here: https://youtu.be/7mdh2XcCHN8

The timing for the start of their talk is listed by each speaker.

  1. Key messages from the OZCHI survey – Craig Ash, Oxford FoE: 3.20
  2. Lynne Sullivan OBE (The Good Homes Alliance): 9.30
  3. Alex Hollingsworth (Oxford City Council): 28.10
  4. Ian Pritchett (Greencore Construction): 44.10
  5. Ness Scott (West Oxford D.C.) 53.30
  6. Lewis Knight (Bioregional) 1.10.10
  7. Chris Church (Oxford FoE, summary and next steps): 1.24.05

The slide presentations of some speakers are here:

OZCHI is a partnership between Oxford Friends of the Earth, Greencore Construction, Bioregional, Transition by Design, Jessop and Cook, and SowSpace.  It is supported by other organisations – see below. We invite you to join us (see ‘join our work’ below). There is a briefing on what we are planning.

Background:  Making change happen.

Current plans for Oxfordshire include up to 100,000 new homes. If new homes (however many are finally built) continue to waste energy (as most new homes will at present) then they are making the climate crisis worse.   We need every new home to be zero carbon. This is technically feasible – what it needs is the political will.

We know this is doable. As long ago as 2008 the government proposed a ‘zero carbon homes standard’ but this plan was dropped in 2016. Current government plans for a ‘Future Homes Standard’ will not take us to Net Zero Carbon soon enough.

It is happening (but too slowly!)  Zero carbon homes are already being built in Oxfordshire. The Springfield Meadow development near Southmoor is an excellent example including both private and social housing properties.

Want to see more? A set of case studies from Oxfordshire and around the UK are available here.

The retrofitting of existing homes is equally important and is being addressed elsewhere. Our current focus is on new homes – the scope may be extended to all buildings over time.  We plan to develop collaboration between organisations from different sectors to work together to co-create a new system for planning, designing and building zero carbon homes that can be applied in Oxfordshire initially and which provides a blueprint for others to follow.

We recently published Fast Forward Oxfordshire which sets out a path to Zero Carbon Oxfordshire by 2040.

We will shortly have our ‘Zero Carbon Homes questions and answers’ (which also tackles some current myths about zero carbon homes).

If your organisation supports our aims please support us! Contact OZCHI via homes@oxfoe.co.uk

Zero Carbon Homes – what do we mean?

* The definition of zero carbon we are using (as a minimum standard) includes the construction and in use carbon based on the UK green buildings council framework definition as set out in April 2019 – https://www.ukgbc.org/ukgbc-work/net-zero-carbon-buildings-a-framework-definition/

For further information we recommend:

Join our work on this!

The success of this initiative will rely on the collaboration of stakeholders from different sectors working together. As a first step we are looking to reach out to those stakeholders to ask them for help. We need your support to do this.

We need you to write to your local councillors and ask them to make the building of zero carbon homes a planning priority in Oxfordshire and to introduce planning measures that support this.

We need you to help us identify key stake holders whom we should contact. Are you, or do you know someone who is:

  • An expert in zero carbon technology
  • A planner
  • An architect
  • A developer
  • A builder
  • A representative of a housing association
  • Others working on homes and buildings

Please get in touch with us via the email address: homes@oxfoe.co.uk