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Zero Carbon Homes

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

Zero Carbon Homes Now!

Oxford Friends of the Earth and our partners in the Oxfordshire Zero Carbon Homes Initiative (OZCHI) are calling on the leaders of the six Oxfordshire councils to set a ‘net zero carbon’ standard for all new homes to be built across the county.

This follows the recent announcement by the government that they will now allow local councils to set higher energy standards for new homes than the current national figure.

Our councils can do this – what is needed is the will to do it.

We need your support for this.  Please:

Sign our petition – this is the simplest way to show your support.  Click here and sign up.

Write to your district or city councillor.   There’s a simple letter you can use here.  Ideally add some reasons why this matters to you, but keep the core message.  If you don’t know who your councillors are, you can find out easily – click here and add your postcode: https://www.writetothem.com/

Why does this matter?

Oxfordshire faces serious housing pressure over the next decade. Our aim is that however many new houses are built, they should all be built to net zero carbon standards as soon as possible.  

We have written to the leaders of all the local councils and of the Oxfordshire Growth Board and of OxLEP, the Local Enterprise Partnership asking them to work with each other 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’.

If this doesn’t happen then all the new homes to be built in the next years will need expensive retrofitting to bring them up to higher standards that will come in as part of our national move towards a net zero economy.

Zero Carbon Homes are coming – the only question is when and how fast. Recent work here in Oxfordshire has shown that these can be affordable as well as cheap to live in.   This could be an issue where our county can take a lead and derive real and lasting benefit.

Some more questions answered:

Aren’t Zero Carbon Homes really expensive?

The cost of a new house depends on many factors including the cost of land and developer profits. During 2019 and 2020 Greencore Construction built nine affordable houses in Southmoor (near Kingston Bagpuize) to a combination of Zero-Carbon footprint, Passivhaus performance and net-zero energy in use. These were built for approximately the same price as any other social rent house and they were sold to Sovereign Housing Association for exactly the same price they pay for any other affordable house.    You can find more examples of new Zero Carbon homes on the OZCHI web page.

Why do we want an ‘Innovation Zone’?

Getting Zero Carbon homes won’t just be about setting standards.  We’ll need people skilled in new methods of construction, and there’ll be a need for new products.  An ‘Innovation Zone’ would be a way to involve all relevant organisations and be a way to deliver change rapidly and at scale, developing training programmes to deliver the new skills that will be needed and resolving other obstacles such as supply chain issues.

There are many examples such as the Essex & Hertfordshire Digital Innovation Zone, the work being done on Energy Innovation Zones in the West Midlands, and the extensive work done on such zones in Northern Ireland by Queens University Belfast.   Setting up an Innovation Zone would help create a skilled and experienced workforce on new construction methods.  This will benefit the county as well as the workers themselves and help our councils meet their goal of net zero carbon emissions. 

Who are OZCHI?

The Oxfordshire Zero Carbon Homes Initiative (OZCHI) is a partnership formed in 2020 by theses organisations: Oxford Friends of the Earth;  Greencore Construction; Bioregional; Jessop and Cook Architects; and Sow Space architects.  New partners and supporters are welcome. Oxford Friends of the Earth provides the secretariat. For more information see:  https://www.oxfoe.co.uk/ozchi/.