Bicester Eco-Village Elmsbrook Town Centre
An exciting area of growth for Oxfordshire, North West Bicester, is a new environmentally, socially and economically sustainable community.
The village built around 6,000 homes, new employment opportunities, and attractive amenities with among the highest eco credentials in the UK – making this development extremely unique.
Introba (formerly Elementa Consulting) has been brought in to work on Elmsbrook Town Centre. This development section includes many amenities that make up a community, including a convenience store, retail units, a pub, community hall, nursery, and commercial units with associated parking. Introba’s work on the project is essential in providing sustainable amenities and creating a community hub where residents can socialize and collaborate.
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 incredibly high. Introba’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.
Introba 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 a new tenant. These two aims can often be difficult and conflicting to tie together.
In the heart of the Elmsbrook town center, 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 Introba from the actual restaurant menu. Cohering to 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. Introba’s mechanical and electrical expertise was crucial here in understanding what style of kitchen equipment would need to be designed to create this healthy menu of food. Introba 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 Introba appealed to retailers, with many seeing these as lessons to take and use for their corporate targets. With hopes to create a knock-on effect through the excellent press, Introba and retailers aspire for these sustainability values to create a pilot scheme for their next generation of stores – and perhaps a national sustainability benchmark.