Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD)

About us

The Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD), founded in 2004, is one of the UK's largest research institutes dedicated to sustainable development research in the built and natural environments. OISD, which consists of six distinct research groups, addresses the multiple dimensions of sustainable development and the synergies and processes that link them, through a multi- and interdisciplinary approach.

OISD has a key mission to undertake funded research on sustainability in the built and natural environments at all scales, addressing the multiple dimensions of sustainable development (social, economic, environmental and governance) and the synergies and processes that link them.  Its aim is to advance knowledge and practice on sustainable environments by:

  • Developing concepts, designs, technical and process approaches;
  • Informing policy debates nationally and internationally;
  • Developing an empirical evidence base; and
  • Contributing to enhanced stakeholder participation.

View of Derwenthorpe, a sustainable urban development in York

Research impact

street view of Bicester ecotown

Research impacts can be broadly situated within three interlinked ‘arenas’:

  1. developing and exploiting new technologies and evaluative techniques
  2. evaluating and influencing policy processes and regulatory frameworks
  3. shaping practice, capacity building, and changing behaviours.

Across these arenas impacts are generated variously through:

  • commercial exploitation and technology transfer;
  • the development of guidance, metrics and internationally recognised standards, together with associated KE/capacity building;
  • outreach and engagement activities such as exhibitions, festivals and blogs;
  • indirect impacts that are more subtle and intangible in character but which are nonetheless influential in terms of advising, informing, and shaping the policy landscape. 


Rajat Gupta

Professor Rajat Gupta

Professor of Sustainable Architecture and Climate Change, Director of OISD and LCB Group

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Our research themes

The research groups of OISD focuses on different spatial scales and processes. Each group has a distinct identity and research strategy, but there are also synergies between them and collaborative working is an important element of our activities. The groups are addressing the following research themes:

  • Designing and planning for resilience and climate change
  • People, energy and buildings
  • Innovations and energy transitions
  • Spatial planning and mobility
  • Inclusive communities and livelihoods

Featured research projects

RESIDE: Residential building energy demand reduction in India

RESIDE is a four-year research initiative designed to support the improvement of living conditions for millions of Indian citizens through establishing the knowledge base to develop a residential building code for high quality, low-energy housing across all five climatic zones in India. The project brings together an interdisciplinary team of architects, engineers, digital scientists, urban planners and behavioural researchers in India and UK to assess all aspects of the residential energy use problem, including performance of the building fabric; in-home appliances including heating, ventilation and air conditioning; indoor environment and occupant behaviour.


Healthy Urban Mobility (HUM)

Study to understand the impact of everyday (im)mobility on health and wellbeing with a variety of social groups living in different neighbourhoods in Brazil and the UK, and also to explore the potential for participatory mobilities planning with local communities to support and develop solutions for healthy urban mobility.

multiple modes of transport (walking, cycling, helicopter and boat)

Energy REV: providing evidence for scaling up smart local energy systems

EnergyREV is a consortium of academics aiming to unlock the benefits of Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES). With multi-disciplinary expertise, they investigate opportunities and challenges around policy, regulation, user engagement and digitalisation of energy systems. They identify evidence to inform change in both the UK and internationally and provide new tools and insights to accelerate the delivery and roll-out of these systems.

mart Local Energy Systems (SLES): wind turbine and solar panels

Local Energy Oxfordshire (LEO)

Project LEO is running trials in Oxfordshire to build a broad range of reliable evidence of the technological, market and social conditions needed for a greener, more flexible, and fair electricity system.

LEO is working on a diverse range of innovative project areas and activities. These are all aimed at accelerating our learning and providing a strong evidence base and practical guidance that will support the UK’s transition to a clean, secure and affordable energy system. We are making the most of the skills, knowledge and expertise of all the project partners, with specific partners leading and participating in these different activities.

LEO logo

Image credits:

  • 'Banner' image: Jonathan Pow.
  • 'About us' image: Tim Crocker