Businesses in Oxfordshire have said the region’s plans to go carbon neutral do not go far enough – arguing that all new homes should be “carbon-positive.”
Greencore Construction, which is behind a number of eco-friendly homes in the area, presented its “One Planet Oxfordshire Construction Plan” to over 120 delegates at an event last week.
Focused on the construction process as well as resource and energy use, the plan has been designed to complement the work of the One Planet Oxfordshire framework, developed by Bioregional and adopted by Oxfordshire County Council.
The event was hosted at Culham Science Centre and chaired by Greencore Construction chairman Martin Pike.
He said: “We believe that we need to act quickly in order to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, and we want to set an example for others to follow.
“The construction sector can go much further and faster when it comes to combating climate change. If not us, who? If not now, when?”
Fellow Greencore Construction director Ian Pritchett added that the current approach to housing is based on avoiding negative environmental impact, rather than seeing if positive gains can be made.
He said: “No one has all the answers and it’s important that we collaborate and work together on this to be successful and deliver major change, at scale.
“With the ambitions already declared in Oxfordshire, it seems like the perfect place to lead the way.”
One Planet Living: A framework for Net Zero
The One Planet Living Framework includes areas that developments should consider from community health and happiness to energy use and conservation.
Lewis Knight, Programme Manager at Bioregional, presented BedZED as an example of best practice that used the framework. Completed in 2002, the south London development comprises 100 homes and a range of sustainability focused measures.
He called for more examples of best practice today and argued that the framework needs to be adopted at a city-wide level to help the UK meet carbon net zero targets.
Setting standards for homes
Mike Roberts from Good Homes Alliance also spoke at the event, sharing the history of the various codes and sustainability standards introduced over the 15 years. He highlighted the importance of the consultation on the Future Homes Standard, as it offered a chance for the industry to “get it right” when it comes to the environment.
Driving change through community action
The final guest speakers of the day were Nina Alphey and Tom Parkinson from Westmill Solar Coop, a solar farm located near to Watchfield on the Wiltshire/Oxfordshire border. They described how energy generation had made their community more self-sufficient and allowed them to share surplus power back to the grid, creating a net-positive gain.