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. Sam leads a project funded by the UK Energy Research Centre, investigating how policy and governance might ensure that SMEs can play a full part in driving down emissions in the UK. GoZero is comparing approaches to business support across the four nations and five selected sectors: horticulture, restaurants, hairdressers, trades, and industrial supply chains. The team, which includes colleagues from Open University and Sheffield Hallam University, is working closely with local and national government and business-representative organisations.

Prior to leading GoZero, Sam has conducted research on various energy and transport innovation projects, including Go Ultra Low Oxford, and Energy Superhub Oxford. In 2020-21, Sam led a team of researchers across the university to map different pathways to achieving zero carbon emissions in Oxfordshire by 2050. The project, called Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire, was awarded the School of Geography and the Environment Impact and Engagement award in 2022.

Alongside his research in the ECI, Sam also holds a position as a Research Fellow at the University of Bath, where he is leading an ESRC-funded project seeking to understand what it will take for the diverse UK population to become more 'carbon capable'. He also works as a freelance sustainability consultant, with a focus on project evaluation and business support. Clients include the Low Carbon Hub, Energy Saving Trust, and Oxford Innovation.

Featured publications

Hampton, S. and Whitmarsh, L. (2023) “Choices for climate action: a review of the multiple roles individuals play”, One Earth, 6(9), pp. 1157–1172.

Hampton, S., Blundel, R., Eadson, W., Northall, P. and Sugar, K. (2023) “Crisis and opportunity: Transforming climate governance for SMEs”, Global Environmental Change, 82.

Brown, C., Hampton, S. and Fawcett, T. (2024) “Accelerating renewable heat: Overcoming barriers to shared-loop ground source heat pump systems in the United Kingdom”, Energy Research & Social Science, 115, pp. 103644–103644.



Where next for SMEs and net zero?

Hampton, S. Eadson, W. Blundel, R, and Sugar, K

June 2024

This report addresses the question where next for SMEs and net zero?, It provides insights from a comprehensive review of policies and business support initiatives across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, as well as interviews with 83 governance stakeholders acting at the national, regional and local levels and 30 interviews with SMEs.

Seven principles of place-based net zero policy for SMEs

Eadson, W. Hampton, S. Sugar, K, Blundel, R and Northall, P

April 2024

This report sets out seven principles of place-based net-zero policy for SMEs. Setting place-based action within context of national, international, and sector action on climate change, the report provides assessment of where place-based action can provide most added value, and address limitations in existing provision.

Energy Superhub Oxford, Final Report

Hampton, S et al.

April 2023

Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) is a £41m demonstration project delivering innovation in smart local energy systems. As countries around the world embark on energy transitions to decarbonise their economies, decentralised and digitised solutions are increasingly important in delivering power, heat and mobility to users. Exploring options for smart local energy systems is a key UK priority.
ESO is one of three large demonstrator projects part-funded by the UK government under its “Prospering from the Energy Revolution” (PFER) programme. Work began in April 2019 and ran until March 2023. ESO’s main focus has been on investment in infrastructure for energy storage, electric vehicle charging, low carbon home heating and developing innovative, smart ways of generating benefits from these for users, investors and society at large.
This report has been produced by the University of Oxford team and draws on their research findings spanning each of the major work packages: transport (including private wire and Superhub construction), decarbonising heat, and the transmission grid connected battery, its operation and carbon impact.
It also includes a chapter on consortium working practices and concludes with overall learnings from the project.

Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire: report

Sam Hampton, Lewis Knight, Hannah Scott, Hannah Budnitz, Gavin Killip, Scot Wheeler, Alison Smith and Nick Eyre

June 2021

Oxfordshire has made good progress on achieving its climate goals, with success in decarbonising electricity and reducing energy demand over the last. This report addresses how Oxfordshire can sustain the momentum of the last decade to achieve net-zero emissions. There remains significant work to do to decarbonise transport, reduce reliance on fossil fuels for heating, and protect and enhance carbon stored in the natural environment.


Hampton, S. and Banks, N. (2022) “Recognition justice and the evaluation of low carbon innovation projects”, in Proceedings of the ECEEE Summer Study 2022. European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.