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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About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

5 Responses to BedZED: The Development that Redefined Sustainable Housing

  1. Frank says:

    Thank you Brad for bringing these environmentally sustainable initiatives from around the world to our attention . It certainly inspires us to look to the alternative in housing. May I suggest while you are in the UK and if you have time and have not already done so visit the Centre Alternative Technology at Machynlleth in North Wales. It is a very grass roots hands on to alternative ways of living. The centre has been going since the mid 1970s , yes there are some of us still surviving

  2. dianaryan1 says:

    But who actually lives there, Brad? Does it offer something for all ranges of income – truly community, in other words. Love to hear about that form of sustainability!

  3. maquismail says:

    Sorry for the delay in catching up on your blog – but so great that you made it to BedZED! Glad to hear largely seemed to live up to expectations..

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