The future challenge for Oxford City Council is deliver housing which is both low carbon and low cost to heat, in line with their strategy; to deliver more affordable housing and to pursue a zero carbon Oxford.
The project will be looking at the issues at the intersection of climate change and fuel poverty and will be an opportunity to directly inform decisions on heating systems for council housing stock.
Emissions from residential buildings are the greatest single contributor to Oxford’s carbon footprint (21%) and City Council housing accounts for roughly 4% of these emissions (Oxford City Council Climate Emergency Strategy, 2019, p8). Heating systems are responsible for around a third of these emissions and therefore decarbonising heat is essential in moving to a zero carbon future. However, due to the economics of low carbon heating, this decarbonisation may push more households into fuel poverty.
In Oxford 46% of those tenants visited by Energy Advice Officers last year said they were experiencing fuel poverty i.e. struggling to pay for energy or finding their homes hard to heat. Fuel poverty negatively impacts health and social outcomes such as morbidity, mortality and children’s educational attainment, emotional wellbeing and resilience (BMA, 2017, p8) The recent COVID19 crisis is likely to push more households into fuel poverty, which could in turn worsen future coronavirus outbreaks.
However recent innovations such as time of use electricity pricing and zero emission boilers provide exciting new opportunities for heating that is both low cost and low carbon.
The project would be an opportunity to research and evaluate heating systems that could deliver low carbon, affordable heating to Oxford residents and tenants. The intern would be responsible for compiling evidence including:
• A brief overview of the experience of fuel poverty for City Council tenants, using Energy Advice Officer data
• An investigation of tenant experiences of new heating systems, e.g. high heat retention storage heaters
• A review of the options for low carbon heating systems for council housing
• A conclusion highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of systems in terms of carbon emissions and fuel poverty impact
The final outcome would be a report and presentation which would help inform senior managers and decision makers on the options for low cost, low carbon heating in Oxford’s council housing.
The intern would be working remotely but with regular virtual supervision from Energy Advice Officers and online or phone input from other council officers. The exact terms for this would be agreed as part of the induction.
3 months (PT or FT) starting in the end of October 2020
Desired skills and qualities:
The Council is looking for someone who would be comfortable identifying, calculating and assessing carbon and fuel poverty impacts of various heating systems and able to compile a clear and effective report on these for use by Oxford City Council.
They should be able to work well independently, being able to find new options or approaches based on initial input from officers. They should be able to present complex information in creative and accessible ways.
• Taking personal responsibility: having a positive approach, proactively contributing ideas, developing positive relationships, being adaptable and reliable
• Putting communities and customers first: working in the best interests of Oxford citizens, actively seeking to understand residents’ viewpoints and experiences, positively engaging with the needs of residents
• Valuing diversity: demonstrating a positive attitude toward individual difference, community and cultural diversity by being open minded, fair and actively contributing to the development of an inclusive environment
• Embracing innovation: actively putting forward new ideas, presenting information in creative ways, keeping up to date with new practices, proactively looking for future trends and possibilities
To comply with current policies the candidate would need to be based in the U.K. and would need to be able to provide their own workspace and equipment. As the project involves working remotely and all communication will be by video conferencing or e-mail the City Council do not anticipate there will be any additional costs directly associated with the work undertaken during the internship. All applicants should therefore be aware that the council will only cover the payment of additional costs which have received prior approval from the Council. Applicants should not expect payment for any additional costs that have not been given this approval - details of which would be explained and agreed as part of the induction. Successful candidates will be expected to adhere to council policies, for example data protection, confidentiality, etc.