Oxford Brookes and BioRegional announced the launch of a new research and innovation initiative on Tuesday 1 July with a major launch event organised in the John Paul-II Centre in Bicester. The Eco-Bicester Living Lab (EBLL) which is a joint collaboration between Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD) at Oxford Brookes University and BioRegional Development Group, has been developed to capture the learning and innovation that is happening in Bicester and share the lessons learned locally, and with the wider communities in UK and beyond. Cherwell District Council and A2Dominion, lead developers of the NW Bicester eco town, are key stakeholders, with many other stakeholders involved in specific projects.
The Living Lab has grown out of the significant housing growth and the research and innovation that has been happening in Bicester, partly due to the status of North West Bicester as 1 of 4 “eco towns” in the UK. The project will see 393 high performance homes being constructed on site now, with plans for a further 6000 homes.
Prior to the project launch there has been the delivery of an impressive portfolio of demonstration projects across Bicester. These projects include innovative retrofit technologies, new business models for the roll out of renewables, future proofing the eco-town for a changing climate and carbon mapping homes in a Bicester neighbourhood using the DECoRuM (Domestic energy, Carbon Counting and Carbon Reduction model) approach to identify opportunities for reducing energy use and fuel costs.
The EBLL initiative combines such innovation, research and development projects into one virtual home. The Living Lab will not only provide Bicester with evidence-based learning and innovation, but also contribute to transforming Bicester into a sustainable and exceptional place to live and work.
The aims of the Living Lab are to:
- Bring world-leading academic research and innovation to Bicester to enable the creation of a truly sustainable town for the 21st century.
- Build a framework of learning and improvement for the various sustainability initiatives and programmes in the town.
- Capture rigorously the learning from the various initiatives and spread it across the UK and around the world.
- Provide a focus for advances in solutions to sustainability, as applied, tested and evaluated in Eco-Bicester.
- Promote Bicester as a centre for research and innovation.
Speaking at the launch, Professor Rajat Gupta, Director of OISD and Co-Director of the Eco-Bicester Living Lab said,
Eco-Bicester Living Lab is a unique cross-sector and cross-disciplinary initiative in which novel ideas related to sustainability will be tested in the urban realm with the explicit goal of learning for continuous feedback and improvement. The rigorous academic evaluation will underpin knowledge-sharing with industry, policy-making and voluntary sectors across the UK and around the world.
Nicole Lazarus, Senior Programme Manager of Eco-Bicester and Co-Director of the Eco-Bicester Living Lab said,
The Living Lab is a gathering place for all the ground breaking work that is happening in Bicester. It’s a place where we can explicitly look at how well our projects are delivering true sustainability and benefit from independent academic experts. It also allows us to bring the learning together in one place and tell the story of a whole town’s journey.
Councillor Barry Wood, Chair of Eco Bicester Strategic Delivery Board said:
The Eco Town stemmed from a desire to ensure new development supported the existing town making Bicester a great place to live, work and spend leisure time in sustainable ways. The work to date has for the first time brought together academic researchers, developers and policy makers to ensure the eco town development is a national exemplar and continues to put Bicester on the map. Cherwell District Council therefore is pleased to support the Eco Bicester Living Lab which will bring together the research that has already taken place and help disseminate the lessons that have been learnt.
Steve Hornblow, Project Director of NW Bicester Eco Town said:
‘As lead developers of the first eco town in the UK we are committed to capturing and disseminate learning from NW Bicester to inspire multiple audiences including policy makers, professionals and the general public and we believe that the Eco-Bicester Living Lab is a great tool to enable us to do this.’
The agenda, presentations and list of attendees of the Living Lab launch event held on 1 July are available on: https://bicesterlivinglab.org/events/