Impressions from the EVALOC conference

The one conference brought together an interdisciplinary and international bunge of researchers and practitioners. The organisers, the EVALOC research team, did an incredible job in hosting a very interesting event, including presentations, plenum discussion and workshop sessions. The absolutely beautiful venue in the TS Elliot Lecture Theater in Oxford ( made me literally forget the pains from being in a conference setting the third day in a row (after the two day LCEDN meeting in Brighton the days before).

The programme (below) offered a wide variety of speakers and topics. Examples of community lead and owned low carbon energy retrofit and new build projects in the UK and the US (Portland), India and Austria were talked about. Outstanding for me was the number of projects and the amount of activity in the UK around low carbon energy communities. Oxford alone apparently has 62 environmental groups exploring, implementing and improving renewable energy and energy efficiency interventions in and around their homes! This is not the case everywhere in the UK, but the government in the UK has taken note of the developments and programmes like the Green Deal, building codes and specific funding for low carbon community energy projects are the proof. Despite the many weaknesses and shortcomings associated with governments’ involvement in this space, the South African government could definitely learn from it.

The event also very much supported the argument that household energy mitigation (and hopefully soon also adaptation) actions are not only a matter for national, top-down efforts, but that these need to be accompanied (if not lead) by local level actions as well. The reason for that lies also within the constrains and limits associated with mitigation actions concerning individual households only. Collaboration amongst households and groups, has the potential to achieve sustained change. The EVALOC project is working on analysing exactly this. More about their inspiring work on their website A full conference report is begin produced by the organisers.


Conference Programme

Registration and Coffee/Tea 

Session 1 
Inaugural Session  
10:00 – 11:10
Chair: Professor Ray Ogden, Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment, Oxford Brookes University

10.00  Welcome address
Professor John Raftery, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Oxford Brookes University

10.10  Introduction to the conference: EVALOC low carbon communities project: emerging findings
Professor Rajat Gupta, Conference Chair, Oxford Brookes University

10.40  Seeding community energy action through Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF): what did we learn?
Rachel Nunn, Strategic advisory board of LEAF programme

11.10 – 11.40 
Refreshment break and Viewing of posters

Session 2
Global versus community-scale approaches for tackling the climate crisis
11.40 – 13.00
Chair: Professor Rajat Gupta, Director of Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development, Oxford Brookes University

11.40  Neighbourhood-, urban-, and global-scale solutions to the energy and climate crisis: Observations from  Portland, Oregon
Professor Jon Fink, Portland State University, USA

12.10  The role of community building processes in sustainable energy projects: Experiences from Austria
Dr Michael Ornetzeder, Austrian Academy of Science, Austria

12.40  Panel discussion

13.00 – 14.00 Lunch and Viewing of posters

Session 3
Innovating at the grassroots level: creating low energy communities
14.00 – 15.00
Chair: Matt Gaskin, Head of School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University

14.00  Creating sustainable Communities in Malmö, Sweden
Trevor Graham, City of Malmö, Sweden

14.30  Strategies for low energy communities in urban India
Professor Ashok Lall, Ashok B. Lall – Architects, India

15.00 – 15.30 
Refreshment break and Viewing of posters

Session 4
Parallel workshops
15.30 – 16.40

Parallel workshop 1:
Low energy housing refurbishments: monitoring and evaluation 
Chair: Prof Rajat Gupta
Parallel workshop 2: Researching and evaluating low carbon communities 
Chair: Dr Karen Lucas
Parallel workshop 3:
Communities and Green Deal: challenges and opportunities 
Chair: Dr Nick Eyre

Session 5
Closing plenary
16.45 – 17.30
Chair: Dr Nick Eyre, ECI, University of Oxford

16.45  Energy and communities research and practice: future challenges and opportunities
Dr Paul Rouse, Economic and Social Research Council, UK

17.05  Panel discussion

17.25  Observations about the day and closing comments
Professor Rajat Gupta, Conference Chair, Oxford Brookes University

17.30  End of conference

Drinks and Networking. Viewing of posters


Parallel workshop 1: Low energy housing refurbishments: monitoring and evaluation
Chair of workshop: Professor Rajat Gupta

15.30 Scene-setting: Monitoring and evaluation of low energy housing refurbishments
Professor Rajat Gupta, Laura Barnfield and Priyanka Arora

15.45 Reality of Energy Savings in housing refurbishments
Stephen Passmore, National Refurbishment Centre and Energy Saving Trust

16.00 Evaluating whole-house retrofit for future projects
Kirsten Burrows, PRP Architects

16.15 Discussion on:
• Methodologies and tools for monitoring and evaluating housing refurbishments
• Addressing the gap between predicted and actual energy savings from refurbishments
• Learning from monitoring and evaluation

16.40 CLOSE

Parallel workshop 2:  Researching and evaluating low carbon communities
Chair of workshop: Dr Karen Lucas

15.30 Learning from Derwenthorpe low carbon community: opportunities and challenges
Nigel Ingram, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

15.45 Learning from evaluation of Ashton-Hayes: a low carbon community
Professor Roy Alexander, University of Chester and Ashton-Hayes

16.00 Evaluating the impact of Low Carbon Oxford Hub in Oxfordshire and beyond
Barbara Hammond, Oxford City Council (TBC)

16.15 Discussion on:
• Methodologies and tools used by academics and their relevance to communities
• Role of action based research
• Using systematic evaluation to advance community energy action
• Community learning from energy display libraries

16.40 CLOSE

Parallel workshop 3:  Communities and Green Deal: challenges and opportunities
Chair of workshop: Dr Nick Eyre

15.30 Green Deal: Engagement and Opportunities
Professor David Strong, David Strong Consulting Limited

15.45 What communities could do in preparing for Green Deal?
Bridget Newbery, Centre for Sustainable Energy

16.00 Preparing for Green Deal: Carbon mapping households in Bicester
Matt Gregg, Rohini Cherian and Prof Rajat Gupta

16.15 Discussion on:
• Engaging communities in uptake of the Green Deal programme
• Communities as trusted ‘intermediaries’
• Learning from Green Deal pilots

16.40 CLOSE