Sam is an environmental geographer with a focus on the governance of energy and climate change.
His research examines the ways in which environmental impact relates to everyday life. It begins with the idea that energy and resource consumption are bound up in social practices such as travelling to work, cooking and eating, and achieving comfort. This perspective tells us that policies designed to reduce environmental impact require an understanding of how and why social norms and behaviours become established. For instance, the steady increase in 'normal' indoor temperatures over the last 50 years, the transition from bathing to showering, or the proliferation of plastics in food production and consumption.
Sam has applied these ideas to the practices of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the policies developed to reduce their energy consumption. These policies include government funded incentives such as free expert advice and grants for energy efficiency measures. As policy instruments, these are intensive and expensive, and he has worked with business support organisations to explore how to make face-to-face advice more effective and long-lasting.
Since finishing his DPhil in 2018, he has conducted research on electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The Go Ultra Low Oxford project aimed to address the challenge of providing access to charging for people who live in towns and cities without off-street parking. Working with Oxford City Council, the project team evaluated different technologies and solutions for charging in dense neighbourhoods.
Sam is currently working on Energy Superhub Oxford, a major energy innovation project involving a large electricity grid-connected battery, rapid electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and ground-source heat pumps coupled with smart technologies. This involves working with multiple stakeholders across Oxford, including the City Council, taxi drivers, landlords and social housing tenants.
He is also leading a project called Zero Carbon Oxfordshire, which is mapping different pathways to achieving zero carbon emissions as a county by 2050. Reporting to a consortium including all councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership, the project involves experts across the ECI and Transport Studies Unit.
Alongside his research he works as a freelance sustainability consultant, with a focus on project evaluation and business support. Clients include the Low Carbon Hub, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Oxford Innovation.