Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF) / GLEE
The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF) has enabled over 230 low carbon community organisations in the UK to work with the private and academic sector to understand and reduce the amount of energy that is used in buildings. This has helped communities prepare for policy mechanisms such as the national Green Deal programme which aims to improve existing housing and non-domestic buildings by offering up-front loans on energy efficiency and renewable energy measures to be repaid through energy savings.
With LEAF funding, the Low Carbon Group at Oxford Brookes University utilised a unique carbon mapping approach, which has enabled a community group in Highfield, Bicester to evaluate the potential for improving the energy efficiency of their housing stock, rapidly, and on a house-by-house level. DECoRuM®, an award-winning GIS (geographical information systems) – based carbon counting model was used to measure, model, map and manage energy use and CO2 emission reductions from 374 houses in the Highfield area of Bicester, resulting in community-wide estimates of current carbon emissions and an evaluation of potential refurbishment interventions based on a combination of best practice energy saving measures, and low carbon technologies.
Incremental packages of energy saving measures were analysed for their impact on energy consumption, fuel costs and CO2 emissions to reveal the potential for large-scale refurbishment in the local area. Eligibility for Green Deal ‘equivalent’ package was also tested to show that 69% of homes in the neighbourhood are suitable for the funding. The results were visualised and fed back to the community using colour-coded spatial maps presented through a series of workshops and community meetings. Furthermore, targeted door-step marketing is undertaken by the community organisation to encourage the uptake of loft and cavity wall insulation in homes which do not have them.
Lessons learned and next steps
The DECoRuM® maps created for Highfield show trends of energy consumption and potential for retrofit based on a number of variables such as house type and age and are a valuable resource to inform and guide policy makers. The strength of the process lies in its ability to make quick urban level estimates of carbon emissions and reduction potentials based on externally available data.
- Bespoke site specific mapping of current energy consumption and visualisation of the potential for energy savings can enable uptake of low energy measures. Such an area-based approach can act as a tool to scale up the uptake of low energy domestic refurbishments, by providing Green Deal providers, local authorities, community organisations and householders with information on the technical and economic feasibility of deploying a suite of best practice refurbishment measures.
For householders and communities, feedback through carbon mapping can be particularly useful, as a means of developing a common language and stimulating further discussion and debate regarding action on reducing energy use through technical and behaviour change measures. Moreover carbon maps can also link with other datasets, for instance, these can be used to track the effect of refurbishments on fuel poverty.
Grassroots worked with Cherwell District Council, Oxford Brookes University and Bioregional to deliver Grassroots Leads Energy Efficiency (GLEE) in Highfield to help residents reduce their energy usage and save money on their bills. Six workshops were run in the community and in local schools. Oxford Brookes University used DECoRuM carbon mapping software to show where and how properties could make the biggest savings.
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Department of Energy Climate Change
- Oxford Institute of Sustainable Development
- Grassroots Bicester (Community Action Group)
- Cherwell District Council