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Net Zero Innovation Programme: Past projects

Here you can find details of projects from previous years of the Net Zero Innovation Programme, with summaries and relevant contacts

Net Zero Innovation Programme project list 2020/21



Project summary

Property & People

Barnsley Council

Leeds Beckett University

Leeds Beckett University are working in partnership with Barnsley Council to design and oversee the construction and evaluation of a new, low-energy housing estate in Barnsley – using the latest research and innovation in insulation and renewable energy.


Cambridgeshire County Council 

University College London

Cambridgeshire County Council aim to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Over 96% of these emissions are scope 3, primarily from procured goods and services. With over £100million spent on goods and services annually, Cambridgeshire seeks to leverage this significant procurement power to drive innovation from its suppliers to deliver goods and services with reduced emissions. This project will develop and test a framework to estimate the emissions from procured goods and services and enable informed discussion with suppliers on how to reduce them.


Colchester Council

University of Essex

Our project aims to enable two local primary schools embed environmental education, reduce their environmental impact and have fun. It is grounded in in a can-do, whole school approach and includes a baseline audit, co- producing an environmental action plan, and activities from tree-planting to energy-saving.



Cornwall County Council

University of Exeter

The Climate Change and Health Tool is an evidence-based resource to support Cornwall’s public sector institutions.

The model will provide evidence for decision-makers to focus beyond short-term outcomes and understand the potential implications of climate change mitigation and adaptation on health and the subsequent impacts across a broad range of sectors and services.

Home Working

Durham County Council 

University of Durham

The Home Working project will measure the real energy consumption impacts of home working to help with future energy scenario planning. Using staff volunteers from the university and the council we will collect home energy bill data from the year before and the year after lockdown. This will be collated with office energy consumption over the same period. 

Transport data will also be assessed to create a full and accurate comparison.

Care Homes

Hertfordshire Council

University of Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire County Council, as a provider of adult care services, is working in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire to collect care home energy usage data. This, fully scalable, pilot project will identify any areas of wastage and then presents options to reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency.

Retrofit Skills

Lambeth Council

London South Bank University

This project seeks to address the urgent need to expand the capacity of local supply chains to deliver net zero retrofits at scale, pace and quality, and to connect local residents to these jobs. It aims to better understand the local retrofit supply chain, the roles and skills that are needed, existing training offers, and what the council and other stakeholders should do to address gaps and optimise local benefits.

Retrofit Model

Sutton Council

University College London

Helping Sutton Council make decisions about retrofitting through providing them with information from a 3D model of the local housing stock.


Lewes and Eastbourne Councils

  • Kate Richardson (kate.richardson@lewes-

University of Sussex

Lewes and Eastbourne will be exploring a range of alternative financing mechanisms and evaluating them for use on a variety of sustainability projects that may or may not generate a financial return.

Alternative finance mechanisms should create wider community wealth and social benefits to ensure a ‘just transition’ and help us achieve our net zero ambition by 2030.

Decision Training

North of Tyne Council

Northumbria University

Developing a training for the council on how to bring considerations about climate change into its capital investment decision making processes.

Comms Toolkit

South Gloucestershire Council

University of West of England

The Carbon Communication Toolkit project will support South Gloucestershire Council in delivering their local Climate Action Plan by developing effective communication strategies focussed on three priority challenges:

  • Overcoming resistance to active travel measures in the Climate Action Plan, including the impact of Covid-19
  • Overcoming barriers to the current update of low carbon home retrofitting initiatives (beyond cost-related barriers)
  • Raising the profile of the climate emergency within the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) to encourage ownership of the Local Climate Action Plan.


Worcester Council

University of Worcester

Woo Bikes: An employer led citywide electric bike share scheme using ‘off the shelf’ e-bikes requiring no infrastructure, making it simple and fast to implement. This project looks at both ‘business miles’ and staff commute and is novel in its approach using employer’s reception facilities to charge batteries and administer the booking.


Net Zero Innovation Programme project list 2021/22



Project summary

Developing an industrial area assessment tool and roadmap to identify circular opportunities

London Borough of Enfield and UCL

Enfield Council

University College London

Industrial areas concentrate energy and material intensive activities but also contribute to employment opportunities, add value and strengthen the local economy. Urban and peri-urban industrial areas can make a positive contribution to the transition to Net Zero but they face challenges such as; competition for land, conflicts over infrastructures and services and, generally, lack of investment and policy focus. There is little understanding of current industrial activities, infrastructural needs and environmental issues which limits potential for environmental and economic improvement, especially in the transition towards net zero.

This project will identify and study opportunities to transition towards circular and low carbon industrial areas.

A hyper-local project aiming to help hard to reach businesses gain the skills they need to transition to net zero. 

Nottingham Trent University and Bolsover District Council

Bolsover Council

Chris Fridlington ([email protected])

Nottingham Trent University  

David Walker ([email protected])

This project aims to carry out stakeholder engagement with micro-businesses and small and medium enterprises operating in Bolsover District, to better understand barriers preventing these types of businesses from accessing training and funding to develop their understanding of net-zero, and the skills or technology needed to make the transition to net-zero.

Following up, this project will aim to deliver a pilot scheme based on learnings from stakeholder engagement to provide ‘proof of concept’ around what works, what doesn’t work and what might work better to provide the foundations for scaling up delivery and co-creating a successful programme of interventions over the longer term.

Growing a Shared Vision for Urban Greening

Cheltenham Borough Council  and University of Gloucestershire

Cheltenham Borough Council

University of Gloucestershire


A strategic approach to enhancing biodiversity and tree cover can guide what needs planting, where, and by whom, with considerable environmental benefits. However, landowners, including councils, often lack the knowledge required to plant the right plant in the right place. Simultaneously, residents are uncertain what these changes will mean for their neighbourhoods and streetscapes.   In combination, this leads to situations of conflict or stasis, when rapid action is required. 

Our project will develop the parameters for a user-friendly tool that addresses technical acceptability and societal feasibility to facilitate the rapid greening of urban spaces.

Integrating EV car clubs and low-carbon housing for greener neighbourhoods across the city

Newcastle City Council and Northumbria University

Newcastle City Council

Northumbria University   

Local authorities rely on data-driven approaches to understand how low-carbon interventions can be rolled out across cities to achieve the Net Zero target. Abortive effort can be spent collating and processing the wrong data or failing to build engagement and communications strategies.

We are therefore seeking to harness the power of accurate, local-level data to inform solutions across Newcastle upon Tyne. The project aims are to uncover the ‘decision making path’ around connecting an Electric Vehicle car club to prospective (ultra) low carbon neighbourhoods (inclusive of social housing). Tailored partnerships and communications can then be used to encourage action and behaviour change amongst local communities.

DePoLARiZE - Delivering Port of Liverpool-Associated Road-freight Zero Emissions

Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council and Lancaster University

Sefton Council

Lancaster University

Global trade and associated freight transfer is expected to remain high or even grow. The Liverpool City Region has recently been granted permission to establish a Freeport and the Port of Liverpool is planning for significant future growth which is expected to result in increased shipping, port operations and inland freight transfer. These activities are all mainly fossil-fuelled and contribute to carbon emissions. As freight transport grows, the challenge is to decarbonise all aspects of the distribution network without negatively affecting growth or local environmental and social conditions.

The project aims to facilitate willing members of stakeholder groups on all sides of the issue to convene in new ways, enabling them to envision practicable next steps in ways that cultivate productive working relationships; in short, to kickstart the collective learning process needed to address the issues over the medium-term.

Investment for Net-Zero

East Sussex County Council and University of Brighton

East Sussex Council

University of Brighton 

Most local authorities have declared a climate emergency. This will require them to understand how they can get to net zero. Some local authorities have incurred costs to pay consultants to carry out modelling and a variety of models have been used, so the results are not necessarily comparable. Some local authorities aren't sure how to go about modelling their pathway to net zero.

The purpose of the project is the development of a model that allows senior managers and Members to make informed decisions, leading to an optimal investment strategy to achieve net-zero within the council. The model aims to generate the maximum available carbon savings for the available investment each year. This considers forecast prices and carbon intensities while achieving net-zero targets. The model is designed to be sufficiently generic that it can be used by other councils.

Business Resilience Opportunities in a Net-Zero carbon Essex (BRONZE)

Essex County Council and Anglia Ruskin University

Essex County Council

Anglia Ruskin University  

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and local authorities both face similar barriers in terms of the goods and services being provided or required for the net-zero carbon transition. These barriers can be internal, e.g. their own operations, and external, e.g. the ability to understand the market opportunities by SMEs and the goods and services needed by local authorities.

This project sets out to achieve a clear understanding of business priorities in relation to their understanding of the net-zero carbon transition, both internally and with their customers, the wider market opportunities, and their experiences of tendering for local authority contracts and work.

Uncovering the barriers that they face to provide guidance to enable better translation, swifter zero carbon transition and the confidence to tender for local authority work.

"Community Climate Champions" Leaving No One Behind toolkit

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council and University of Birmingham

Sandwell Council

University of Birmingham

Sandwell is the 12th most deprived local authority, and our resource-poor residents will find it challenging to adapt to climate change and be severely impacted (as during the pandemic). Specific interventions are required to protect deprived communities in our superdiverse borough.

Sandwell Council in partnership with the University of Birmingham and local citizens will develop a ‘Leaving No-one Behind’ Climate Champion toolkit, building upon the successful model of our award winning COVID champions programme. This scalable output will adopt a proportionate universalism approach to climate adaptation, minimising risks of further widening health inequalities and maximising opportunities to reduce regional disparities.

Mapping the tree planting supply chain in North Yorkshire and York

North Yorkshire County Council and University of Huddersfield

North Yorkshire County Council

University of Huddersfield Business School

The Nature for Climate Fund, very ambitious woodland creation and tree planting targets are being developed nationally (e.g., 30,000 ha of new planting p.a. by the end of this parliament) and regionally (e.g. in the White Rose Forest project in West and North Yorkshire). There are real challenges for existing supply chains in supporting this level of planting ambition in terms of capacity of tree nurseries (private and public sector) and finding enough people with the right skills to deliver projects.

The project will attempt to map the tree planting supply chain in North Yorkshire and York to develop a scalable tool that is applicable more widely across West and East Yorkshire.  Working with supply chain experts at the University of Huddersfield, the project will help in understanding the role of councils in working with other key partners in delivering large-scale tree planting ambitions. 

‘Energetic Lifestyles’: Engaging young people in the development and implementation of carbon reduction initiatives

University of Bedfordshire and Luton Borough Council

Luton Council

University of Bedfordshire

Lack of end user engagement at early stages of implementation of new technologies often leads to operational issues, user complaints and system failures. The full potential of desired energy efficiency cannot be achieved without robust engagement from end-users and a good understanding of current barriers facing behaviour change.

The ‘Energetic Lifestyles’ project will focus on the user perspective and on establishing an improved understanding of the perceptions and barriers to energy efficient behaviours among young people and ethnically diverse communities. By doing so, the project aims to enhance engagement of young people in particular in the development of new energy efficient technologies and initiatives, and ultimately to drive carbon reduction within the region.

Net Zero Landlords

Medway Council and Kent University


Medway Council

Kent University




As domestic emissions are the greatest source of emissions in Medway, it is imperative that we work to reduce this. As many landlords are yet to be equipped with the knowledge and resources needed to transition to a carbon reduced climate, especially as expeditiously as required by everchanging legislation, Medway Council and the University of Kent will work in tandem to facilitate this gradation.

This will be encouraged through a series of knowledge transfer workshops and other various means of engagement. We also aim to dispel preconceived notions surrounding the net-zero agenda and make the journey as straightforward as possible.

Growing a Difference: Getting Newham’s schools growing

Newham Council and the Institute for Global Prosperity at UCL


Newham Council

University College London


The objective of this project is to research and understand the obstacles to, and potential of schools growing food on campus. We aim to create a toolkit with schools and stakeholders that will help primary schools start growing food and integrate food growing into the curriculum, to help schools become hubs of growing activity. This project will develop broader vision for a sustainable food future for schools in Newham (and beyond). We aim to fund and facilitate the creation of new food gardens at pioneer schools and prepare for opportunities beyond the life of this project.