Bicester Eco-Village Elmsbrook Town Centre

An exciting area of growth for Oxfordshire, North West Bicester is seeing the build of a new community set to be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. The village is due to see a build of around 6,000 homes, new employment opportunities and attractive amenities. It is aiming to have among the highest eco credentials in the UK – making this development extremely unique.

Elementa have been brought in to work on Elmsbrook Town Centre. This section of the development includes many of the amenities that make up a community, including a convenience store, retail units, a pub, community hall, nursery and commercial units with associated parking. Elementa’s work on the project is essential in providing sustainable amenities, creating a community hub where residence can socialise and collaborate with one another.

With phase one of the development being one of only 11 projects in the world to have been awarded the prestigious One Planning Living Principles award, sustainability targets for the whole development are extremely high. Elementa’s main challenge was ensuring that these sustainability aims were met by all buildings, specifically ones that involve much more intensive energy use than a typical residence.

Elementa invoked thought leadership through creating and providing workshops with potential tenants, developers and clients, working closely with them to understand how the needs of each stakeholder could be delivered – whether it be ensuring sustainability targets were met for the client, or providing that the development would make business sense for said new tenant. These two aims can often be difficult and conflicting to tie together.

In the heart of the Elmsbrook town centre, a potential gastro-pub restaurant provided a great example of how to use the values of the entire development to drive down energy consumption. Here the design process started with Elementa from the actual restaurant menu. Cohering with the eco-values of the town, the restaurant aspired to design a healthy menu, aligning itself to the same lifestyle values of the whole community build. Elementa’s mechanical and electrical expertise were crucial here in understanding what style of kitchen equipment would need to be designed in order to create this healthy menu of food. Elementa presented the idea of having only electric powered cooking equipment, resulting in no gas fired fryers and a heavily reduced carbon footprint.

These sustainability thought leadership sessions presented by Elementa appealed to retailers, with many seeing these as lessons to take and use for their own corporate targets. With hopes to create a knock on effect through good press, Elementa and retailers aspire for these sustainability values to create a pilot scheme for their next generation of stores – and perhaps a nationwide sustainability benchmark.

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