Blog Break for a Week or Two

This blog and I are going to have a week or two holiday. Thanks for reading it and your comments and catch you in ten days or so.dsc06217

cheers, Brad

BedZED Pt. 2: Designing for Kids and Community

The more I’ve researched and visited a range of sustainable housing projects from around the world the more I have come to the conclusion that the very best sustainable housing project have gone beyond just reducing the amount of energy and water each dwelling uses. They’ve taken sustainable housing to the next level by also designing for community.

BedZED is one these smart designs that combines a small ecological footprint with the enabling of community. First of all it is a diverse community with mixed incomes. Half of the homes are for low cost rent or shared home ownership.

Another key element of BedZED was designing the buildings so that everyone could get to know many of their neighbours.

I got to hear about this first hand as by coincidence some old friends of mine recently moved into BedZED. After a day of seminars, tours and discussions about the One Planet Framework we joined their family of four for dinner. They talked about how well the development worked for them as a family.

They said they’d got to know their neighbours even more quickly than when they lived in Fremantle – which we agreed is pretty special for its strong sense of community. Simply design elements like shared walkways, traffic calmed lanes and low fences means there is lots of opportunity for spontaneous neighbourly interaction. There was also a community space with a café overlooking the large shared green space. As a result BedZED residents say they know on average 20 of their neighbours by name; the local average is eight.

But perhaps the most important design element (which I also saw Freiburg’s fabulous Vauban and Reisfield) was keeping cars to the edge of the development. His enables the inner streets to be kid friendly and safe them to explore and play in and around without parental supervision. My friends who have two young daughters said they would have never previously (including when they lived in Fremantle) let them go out and play in the streets and neighbouring parks unsupervised to the extent they do now.

The influential mayor of Bogota, Enrique Penaloza, would say “Can you imagine if we designed our entire city for children?’ I got the sense this is what BedZED had done exactly this on a community scale. It does mean you can’t drive to right to your front door and that you will have to walk a short way to get your car at the edge of the development but, as my friends enthusiastically said,  the community benefits undoubtedly outweigh these costs.

Interesting some of the planned developments in WGV like Thrive are also using this model to both create better green spaces and to enable community. I’m excited about the potential within the Knutsford Street redevelopment area of doing this on an even bigger scale and demonstrating the benefits of designing spaces for kids and community ahead of car movements in new developments.

Thanks to everyone involved in BedZED, fifteen years on you are still inspiring better housing around the world.

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BedZED: The Development that Redefined Sustainable Housing

Yesterday I got to fulfill a long-term dream to see first-hand one of the most ambitious and important sustainable housing projects on the planet – Beddington Zero Emissions Development, aka BedZED .

Even though it is now almost 15 years old it still sets the standard internationally for a large-scale, mixed use sustainable community. This pioneering eco-village is in south London suburbia and has 100 homes, office space, a college and community facilities. It has been inspiration for sustainable neighbourhoods and our One Planet Living Communities across the world including Fremantle where we have been jokingly calling a similar planned development here FredZED.

BedZED is also Bioregional’s headquarters. Bioregional is the not-for-profit organisation the City of Fremantle works with as part of its One Planet framework. Bioregional developed its ten One Planet Living principles out of our experience in planning, building, working and living in BedZED. After giving a talk to Bioregional staff on what we are doing in Freo I did a fascinating tour.

It would be fair to say that this eco-village has influenced and inspired a new generation of One Planet Communities and eco towns including our own award-winning WGV.

BedZED’s set impressive new level in terms of energy and water efficiency. It’s aim of using no fossil fuels is in every part of the design. Its houses and flats are passively solar heated using multi-storey glazed sun spaces facing south. The homes are all very highly insulated but also well ventilated using the distinctive and colourful wind cowls on the roofs. Here, fresh outside air is drawn into the building and pre-heated by outgoing stale air via heat exchangers.

A communal boiler supplies hot water for the entire development via an underground mini-district heating system. A large hot water tank in each home helps to keep it warm in winter as well as storing hot water.

BedZED’s buildings have substantial thermal mass to store heat in brickwork and floor and ceiling slabs, helping to maintain a comfortable and even temperature night and day throughout the year.

Extensive photovoltaic (PV) panels, on the roofs and incorporated into south facing windows, supply some of BedZED’s electricity. Any surplus PV power is exported into the local grid.

Water use is reduced to 76 litres/day; out of which 18% represents rainwater or recycled water; use of aerated taps, low flush toilets, smaller bathtubs. One innovation at BedZED is the use of a reed-water biofiltration system that purifies blackwater into greywater for use in non-potable applications, such as toilet flush or water for gardening.

But going beyond this impressive energy and water efficiency, what I was also really impressed with is how the design helped cultivate community and a kid-friendly environment. This will be the subject of my next post.

A big thanks to Nick Schoon for showing us around and explaining it all

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Electric Vehicle Festival in Freo on Sunday

The WA Branch of the AEVA is excited to announce EV Fest 2016; an exhibition of the latest and greatest electric vehicles from the likes of Tesla, BMW, Holden, Nissan, Mitsubishi and many others, along with a diverse range of converted commuters, classics and work-horses.

This event is 100% free for exhibitors and spectators!

Freo’s Kings Square on Sunday the 25th of Sepetember 11am to 3pm.


Segway Tours come to Fremantle

After lots of work from City of Fremantle staff and Segway Tours WA, segway tours are about to start in Fremantle in late September

They will operate in Fremantle outside the WA Museum – Shipwreck Galleries, 45 Cliff Street.

I expect this will be a popular attraction for tourists and even a few locals.

I did a tour like this when i was in Berlin a few years ago and it is a great way to get to know a city.

For more info check their website:


Recycling, Energy and the Future of Our Waste.

As I’ve previously written WA has some major challenges in the waste and recycling area.

WA is still sending the majority of its waste to landfill. According to the WA Waste Strategy, West Australians not only produces more waste per capita than any one else in the country (over 2000 kg per person each year!) we also have the lowest rate for recovery and diversion from landfill of any mainland State, with less than 40% of material being recovered, and the remaining 60% buried in landfill.

Even our targets are not very ambitious. Perth has a target  of 65% of waste diverted from landfill by 2020. In contrast the Europe Union target is only 5% to landfill by 2020. The EU is a long way ahead of us but one of the reason the study tour chose the UK as the most useful case study as they have gone through a massive transition a decade ago 90% went to landfill. They are now at around 30% and by 2020 there target is 10%.  To put it another way, the UK has 1000 landfill sites a decade ago –  now only 100. By 2020 it will be less than 50

Waste transition is going to be one the key decision for Fremantle and surrounding councils.  In fact I would be so bold as to say that, outside of Kings Square, how we deal with our waste will be one of Fremantle’s biggest investment decisions in the next few years.

The timing is also driven by the fact that some of the SMRC’s key waste recycling assets are coming to the end of their useful life.

Key question for Fremantle is what is the best choice for investment for waste going forward?

In addition to smart recycling plants (which I think we are doing well on) it is pretty clear that a Energy from Waste aka Waste to Energy (WtE) is likely to be part of solution. These plants are common in Japan but the UK example is more relevant to WA as their waste mix and separation is more like ours. One of the sites we toured was Suffolk’s new WtE plant.

This plant burns rubbish that and be recycled or composted at around 1000 degrees (this high temperature is essential to reduce dioxins). It seems that pollution control is now very well managed. During the presentation we were told that the whole 25 year life of the plant will see less nitrous oxides produced than were produced in the one night of millennium fireworks in London. It was also said that it’d be safer to breathe air directly out of the plant’s flu for a whole year than breathe air from BBQ for half an hour!

The plant produces enough power to run 30,000 homes and saves 75,000 tonnes of CO2 each year from going into the atmosphere.

Despite this I have no doubt that WtE will still be controversial in WA if one of these ends up getting built. But it is clear that WA’s approach of just putting most our waste into landfill cannot continue and that new technologies like this in association with a three bin system need to be rolled out if Perth is to be a more sustainable city.

Here are some photos. In the first one you can see how close the nearest houses are to the plant. in the last one you can see the material that come our (bottom ash) which is then used for road base in the UK.

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Congratulations Hannah Fitzhardinge!


It was pleasing to hear from the other side of the world that good residents of Beaconsfield Ward in the City of Fremantle have elected the very capable Hannah Fitzhardinge to the Fremantle Council as a replacement for Josh Wilson.

An added bonus to having someone of Hannah’s caliber on the council is that she is also improving our less than impressive gender balance on the Freo Council.

I am looking forward to working with Hannah to make Freo an even better place to live.

I also want to thank the other candidates  (Fedele Camarda, Andrew Luibikis, and Peter Cruikshank) for being willing to put their hands up and their interest in Freo.