BedZED is the UK’s first large-scale, mixed use sustainable community with 100 homes, office space, a college and community facilities. Completed in 2002, this pioneering eco-village in south London suburbia remains an inspiration for sustainable neighbourhoods and our One Planet Living Communities across the world. It is also Bioregional’s headquarters.
A world famous eco-development
BedZED continues to attract visitors from around the world. This award winning development was designed to achieve big reductions in climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions and water use. It sought to make it easy for people living there to have a greener, lower impact lifestyle, relying less on private cars and producing less waste. Most importantly, BedZED has turned out to be a great place to live.
The project was initiated by Bioregional, developed by The Peabody Trust in partnership with Bioregional and designed with architects, ZEDFactory (also based in BedZED) and Arup engineers. Peabody is one of the largest and longest established providers of social housing in London. The homes range from one bed apartments to four bedroom houses. Half were sold on the open market, one quarter were reserved for social (low cost) rent by Peabody and the remaining quarter for shared ownership, a lower cost way of owning a home.
- Bioregional developed its ten One Planet Living principles out of our experience in planning, building, working and living in BedZED. Now we apply them to all of our work. This pioneering eco-village has influenced and inspired a new generation of One Planet Communities and eco towns.
- For one three person BedZED household using an on-site car club car instead of its own vehicle, we estimated total annual savings in transport, water and energy bills at £3,258 a year, compared to an average London household with its own car.
- On average, BedZED homes sell for about 5 to 10% more than homes of the same size in the surrounding area.
- Even though BedZED is, by suburban standards, a high density development, most homes have private outdoor space and many have small gardens. The whole development shares a square and a large playing field.
Sustainability built in
The great majority of BedZED’s 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 gas-fired 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 use concrete to store heat in blockwork 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. Energy efficient appliances and lighting were installed when BedZED was completed in 2002.
The eco-village also saves water, with dual flush toilets, aerated flow taps and shower heads and low water consumption washing machines installed throughout. Water meters are easy to view in the homes.
Low impact construction
In building BedZED, the partners tried to get the construction materials from as close as possible and to make maximum use of recycled materials. This helped reduce environmental impacts from transport and benefitted the local and regional economy.
Even the land the eco-village stands on is recycled. It was used for many years for spreading sludge from the nearby sewage works. That means it cannot be used for food growing and top soil for BedZED homes’ small gardens had to be imported.
Just over half (52%) of the construction materials by weight were sourced within 35 miles, considerably closer than the construction industry average. The bricks used on the outside walls came from just 20 miles away. And the other main exterior surface material, timber cladding, is green oak sourced from woodlands in neighbouring Croydon and Kent.
Just over 3,400 tonnes of construction material, 15% of the total used in BedZED, were reclaimed or recycled products. Nearly all of the steel in the building is reused, much of it coming from refurbishment work at Brighton Railway Station. Reclaimed timber was used for the interior partitions and some flooring.
A thousand tonnes of ‘sand’ made from crushed glass was used under the outdoor paving slabs while the timber bollards used around the site’s pavements are recycled railway sleepers.
BedZED had soaring ambitions to be a very sustainable, zero carbon development but some of the technologies have not proved effective. For example, the originally installed combined heat and power plant which provided carbon-free heat and electricity from local street tree thinnings never performed well so was replaced by a gas-fired boiler.
We have learnt from what has and hasn’t worked, shared this through tours, talks and reports, and used it to inform our One Planet Communities work, including projects such as One Brighton. And we continue to work with BedZED residents and Peabody, to make improvements and enable the eco-village to fulfil its sustainability potential.
We offer a regular guided tour of BedZED on the last Thursday of each month, led by a member of staff from Bioregional. To minimise disruption for BedZED residents we cannot offer tours to groups larger than 20 people.
For groups of 15 people or more it may be possible to organise bespoke tours on other dates. Please email email@example.com to make a request.
The 45 minutes tour includes includes a walk around the entire BedZED site and covers all aspects of the eco-village, with plenty of time to ask questions. Please note that it does not currently include going inside one of the BedZED homes.
Cost: £16 per person, or £10 for concessions (students, pensioners and those who are on benefits). All bookings should be made online. More bespoke tours can be arranged at £20 per person, which includes a presentation and refreshments.
A presentation by a senior architect from ZEDfactory can be arranged for an additional £250 per group. Please contact us for more information on 020 8404 4880.
Wheelchair accessibility: The site is wheelchair accessible.
Getting there: BedZED has good bus, rail and tram links and limited car parking space. Find out more.