West Oxfordshire District Council Launches Free Online Toolkit for Green Housing

Homeowners and developers looking to boost the green credentials of their property can find out everything they need to know at the click of a mouse thanks to the launch of a brand-new online housing toolkit.

Packed full of the latest guidance on how to achieve low-carbon, low-energy homes, the Net Zero Carbon Toolkit is the brainchild of West Oxfordshire District Council, Cotswold District Council and Forest of Dean District Council.

Set out in a practical, easy to follow format, the toolkit is aimed at builders, architects and consultants as well as those looking to self-build.

Councillor David Harvey, Cabinet Member for Climate Change at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We are delighted to be launching this new toolkit today which we have produced in partnership with two other local authorities and leading experts in the field of net-zero homes. Covering everything from pre-planning, design and construction, even down to the types of products on the market, this is a one-stop guide for anyone looking to build a new property so they can include all the measures needed to make sustainable homes that are fit for the future.”

While following the guidance is not mandatory, the types of measures included in the document signal what the District Council would like to see included in future planning policy to tackle the climate emergency.

The guide also covers where carbon and energy gains can be made through retrofitting a range of measures to existing properties, such as switching to low-carbon heating systems and investing in renewable energy.

Cllr Harvey continued: “The Government has set a target for the UK to reach net-zero by 2050 but with 25 million homes being lived in right now, the big challenge is how older properties, which may be prone to cold and poorly insulated, are brought up to standard. A major focus of this document is how householders can modify their existing homes to help them cut heat loss and invest in renewable energy options to reduce the costs of running their homes and make them more sustainable.

“To help people plan and budget, the toolkit gives a breakdown of the likely costs for each element based on whether the homeowner is looking to undertake a cheaper ‘shallow’ retrofit, which could save around 30% of a home’s carbon emissions, or a ‘deep’ retrofit which could achieve up to a 90% reduction in carbon emissions.

“Minor modifications can start from as little as £20-£50 and while larger projects, such as installing solar panels, will require greater upfront investment householders should see an immediate reduction in energy bills, helping offset the costs. Homeowners can, in some circumstances, even receive income for excess electricity sold back to the grid.

“We have ambitious plans to get West Oxfordshire to net zero as soon as possible and this comprehensive guide is just one way we are driving ahead to achieve this aim. We want our residents and businesses to take full advantage of what’s contained in the guide, but we will be sharing the good news far and wide so others can make full use of the work which has been put together and start the process of decarbonising their homes.”

The toolkit has been funded by the Local Government Association Housing Advisers Programme, which supports local authorities seeking to innovate to meet the housing needs of their communities.

To encourage everyone to start making the best environmental choices and switch to low-carbon homes, the Net Zero Carbon Toolkit is available to anyone, including commercial organisations.

The document is now available for free download from West Oxfordshire District Council’s website: www.westoxon.gov.uk/netzerocarbontoolkit