BedZED was the UK’s first large-scale mixed use sustainable community, with 100 homes, office space for around 100 workers and community facilities. Completed in 2002, BedZED is still the inspiration for low carbon neighbourhoods and our One Planet Communities across the world.
BedZED was developed as a partnership between BioRegional, housing association Peabody and architects ZEDfactory. Residents at BedZED can reduce the carbon emissions of their whole lifestyle by nearly 50%, including energy use in the home, transport and embodied carbon in food and consumer goods. BedZED demonstrates that the 80-90% carbon reductions needed in Europe can be achieved cost effectively, but only if government and business also reduce carbon emissions from services and products.
Total energy use in the homes is 60% less than for average homes in the local area, photovoltaics supply around 20% of electricity, and a planned new biomass energy plant and off-site renewable energy will mean zero carbon emissions from energy use in the future.
Research among BedZED residents shows:
- a higher reported quality of life, with a strong sense of community
- significantly lower use of energy for heating (77% lower than local average), and electricity usage (45% lower than local average)
- reduced water consumption – 58% lower than local average
- a lower rate of car ownership and annual mileage reduced by 64% compared to national average
- further lifestyle changes driven by a strong community, including high recycling rates (60%) and sustainable food choices.
Green Lifestyles - completing the sustainability picture
People are attracted to living and working at BedZED for many reasons. But whether you like the architecture, the location or are a committed environmentalist, green living comes as standard.
Energy and water efficiency have been ‘designed in’ at BedZED. Households and businesses achieve reductions in their environmental impact just by living or working at the development. However, sustainability cannot be achieved through bricks and mortar alone. In the UK, our ecological and carbon footprints are split between our home, transport, food, the consumer items we buy and the services that we use.
These ‘lifestyle’ choices cannot simply be integrated into the BedZED building fabric. How residents travel, deal with their waste and buy food are personal choices.
To help achieve sustainable One Planet Living at BedZED, BioRegional worked with residents to extend the sustainable choices beyond bricks and mortar with fresh ideas for food, travel and waste.
For the first year of residency BioRegional employed a Green Lifestyles Officer to help residents maximise the green living potential of the development. A key part of the role was to offer training and support to residents to run these schemes themselves in the long term. Today the residents run the composting themselves and an active email group and residents association helps to steer community activities.
Approximately 25% of the average UK resident’s ecological footprint is down to the production and transportation of their food. To reduce this environmental impact, the following initiatives were introduced at BedZED:
- local organic box schemes were promoted to provide local, seasonal, organic produce that supports the local farming industry. 25% of residents receive a weekly delivery
- to help reduce food miles internet shopping deliveries were also promoted; around 18% of residents are using a supermarket service
- residents' welcome packs included details of local farmers markets and residents continue to organise ad hoc on-site local produce markets
- training and equipment was offered to residents to help them grow their own fruit and vegetables on-site. Today a small amount of food is grown on-site and there are plans to extend this
- the Community Composting scheme turns kitchen and garden organic waste into nutrient-rich compost for use on-site.
In the UK road traffic has increased nearly 25% in the last 15 years despite government attempts to get people to drive less1
BedZED took the following measures to decrease car dependency for residents:
BedZED’s green transport plan was written into the land purchase contract. Private car parking at BedZED was therefore limited, with the target for fossil fuel car miles to be 50% lower than UK average. To formalise this agreement Peabody entered into a legally binding agreement – the first of its kind for a housing developer in the UK to sign up to. Residents and businesses pay an annual fee to park on-site and parking spaces are prioritised for disabled drivers and electric / LPG vehicles.
The Green Transport Plan reduces car ownership and use in three ways:
1. Offering alternatives to private car travel
2. Promoting public transport
3. Reducing the need to travel
Alternatives to private car travel
On-site Car Club
BedZED was the first low car development in the UK to incorporate a car club. The club was established in partnership with City Car Club (formerly Smart Moves) – the UK’s largest car club operator. The company provided vehicles, an internet-based booking system and in-car technology while BioRegional employed a development officer.
The car club service was introduced to potential BedZED residents at pre-sales open days and at monthly residents’ welcome evenings as people began to move in.
The first car club booking was made in March 2002. Today, around 35 members share three vehicles. Roughly half of the club’s members work for BedZED-based businesses, and half are BedZED residents. The club has also attracted members from the wider community. As a result of the car club, nine members had sold cars or deferred car purchases by March 2003.
BedZED is equipped to make running an electric car a practical option, with 40 charging points around the site. Public transport or car club vehicles can be used for journeys beyond the range of an electric vehicle.
In the first year, BioRegional and local cycling group Cyclism partnered to run free Dr Bike Sessions. The sessions provided a 10-minute bike check and basic repairs and were offered to BedZED residents and the local community.
Free cycling packs were given to residents. The packs contain everything you need to know about cycling including a booklet, ‘On your bike’, produced by BioRegional with a grant from the London Cycling Campaign, information on local cycling groups, money off vouchers for local cycling shops, local and regional cycle maps and information about cycle club membership and insurance.
There is good cycle storage provision around the site with Sheffield stands and wall mounted locking points and there is room to store bikes in most homes.
Promoting public transport
The BedZED development site was chosen for its excellent public transport links. Hackbridge station (10 minutes walk away) offers regular trains to Victoria (25 minutes) and London St Pancras (41 minutes) and Mitcham Junction station (15 minutes walk away) is linked to Wimbledon and Croydon via the tram system. Two local bus routes also serve the development.
When residents first moved in, BioRegional delivered public transport information such as new timetables direct to the households and businesses.
Reducing the need to travel
BedZED’s mix of homes and workspace offers the option of working from home and cutting commuting. On-site facilities enable businesses and residents to meet more of their everyday needs without getting in the car. These include green relaxation space, a community centre for exercise classes, film nights and book clubs etc., village square, recycling bins and home food delivery.
BedZED has been designed to make it easy to recycle, with the aim of reducing household waste output and to attain a recycling rate of 60%. The following measures were taken:
Community Composting scheme
The compost is used on-site in a closed loop system.
Segregated under-sink bins
Every BedZED home incorporates a colour coded, segregated under-sink bin. The colours relate to the type of waste – green for compostable vegan waste, two grey sections - for glass, plastics, paper, fabric, cardboard and tins and brown for non-recyclables. This makes separating and transporting the materials to the corresponding outside bins easy.
White paper recycling
The paper is collected from BedZED residents and businesses, and after reprocessing can be bought back by as 100% recycled white paper. A Westminster Council Study showed that paper accounts for 40% of commercial waste from offices.
Clothes and furniture swaps
When residents first moved in a swap shop was set up. Residents took items that they no longer wanted and swapped them with other residents for items that they did. This continues through the residents' email group.
BedZED was designed to minimise its ecological impact both in construction and operation – to help residents live within their fair share of the world’s resources. Monitoring progress towards achieving these targets is vital in order to assess the effectiveness of the development, identify areas for further improvement and highlight lessons that can be learnt and applied to future developments.
BedZED's original aims were:
- reduce mains water consumption compared to the UK average by 33%
- reduce hot water consumption compared to the UK average by 33%
- reduce electricity consumption compared to the UK average by 33%
- reducing space heating needs compared to the UK average by 90%
- reduce private fossil fuel car mileage to 50% of UK average
BioRegional and Peabody have carried out monitoring in 2003, 2004 and 2005. The latest monitoring was undertaken in 2007 by BioRegional. We interviewed 71 households (out of 100) about food, transport and waste habits, and their feelings about living at BedZED. We took meter readings to record water, electricity and heat consumption and carried out waste audits.
2007 monitoring results summary
Energy & water use
We found that BedZED residents use 5.2 kWh of electricity per person per day which is 34% lower than the average resident in Sutton. The biomass Combined Heat and Power plant has been removed due to technical issues so BedZED uses gas to power the district heating system and hopes to install a biomass boiler to replace this in 2011. On average, residents use 3.4 kWh of heat (from gas) per day, per person – 77% less than the average Sutton resident.
We found that residents only use 72 litres of mains water per day, topped up by 15 litres of recycled or rainwater. This is less than half of the local average.
86% of BedZED residents buy organic food and 39% grow some of their own food.
While BedZED residents have much lower car ownership and drive far fewer miles, they also fly more so the overall impact of transport is slightly higher than for the average resident in Sutton. Through waste audits with ten households, we found that 60% of waste by weight is recycled or composted, but this rate is likely to be lower for all households – people tend to try harder to recycle and compost while they are being audited.
Quality of Life
The sense of community at BedZED, together with ZEDfactory’s innovative design, is the aspect of BedZED most valued by the residents. When we asked residents to name one or two things they particularly like about BedZED the sense of community was the most popular answer, followed by the design, sustainability and a sense of wellbeing (quietness, quality of light and the feeling of space were all mentioned).
84% of residents felt that the community facilities were better here than in previous neighbourhoods and only one resident, out of 70 who answered this question, felt they were worse.
People living at BedZED know an average of 20 of their fellow residents by name and one resident was able to name 150 of her neighbours! This is significantly higher than for Hackbridge (excluding BedZED) where the average is eight.
The ecological footprint of the ‘average’ BedZED resident is 4.67 global hectares (equivalent to needing 2.6 planets of resources if everyone in the world lived like this). If the biomass CHP was working and BedZED was zero carbon as designed, the average resident would have an ecological footprint of 4.32 global hectares (2.4 planets), while a keen resident, who made significant efforts to reduce their impact, could achieve an ecological footprint of 3 global hectares (equivalent to 1.7 planets).
While this is a significant decrease in ecological footprint compared to the UK average, it is still not sustainable. The limiting factor is that so much of BedZED residents’ impact occurs outside of the estate; their schools, workplaces and the goods and food that they buy for example. In 2005, Sutton Council committed to becoming a One Planet Region by 2025 and is working with BioRegional to reduce the ecological footprint of the whole borough. By working at this scale, and applying lessons learnt from BedZED and our other projects to the whole borough, we hope that that we can make significant reductions in ecological footprint for BedZED and all Sutton residents.
BioRegional's Visitor Centre houses a small exhibition about BedZED and our other projects, One Planet Experience, BedZED show home and resources room, shop, meeting and seminar facilities and our head office.
Respecting the privacy of residents
BedZED is a real estate where people live. It is essential that visitors respect the privacy of residents. We therefore request that visitors do not walk around the site unless doing so as part of a guided tour.
Please do not take photos or videos outside. We can provide professional digital photos free of charge from our on-line library.
Entrance to the visitor centre is free.
Open: 9.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, except bank holidays.
*PLEASE DO NOT VISIT ON WEEKENDS - this is to respect the privacy of residents*.
BedZED guided tours
For those who would like a more in depth introduction to BedZED, we offer guided tours, led by a member of staff from the BioRegional team – BedZED co-developers and sustainability consultants. Find out more.
Large groups (5 people or more)
If your group would like to visit the exhibition and show home without coming on a tour, please contact us first to arrange a mutually convenient time.
Travelling to BedZED
BedZED enjoys good public transport links. We strongly encourage visitors to arrive by sustainable transport (foot/ bike or public transport). Car parking spaces are strictly limited and must be booked in advance. More details.
The Centre is fully accessible with disabled access toilets. The ground floor of the show home is wheelchair accessible and there are videos of the upper floor.
- Continuing Professional Development
BioRegional run Continuing Professional Development training from BedZED. Find out more.
- BedZED seminar facility for hire
BedZED is an inspirational location for a meeting or seminar. BioRegional has 2 meeting rooms that can be booked. BedZED is easily accessible by train from Central London either from Victoria (20 minutes) or Kings Cross (45 minutes) stations to Hackbridge station. Contact: tel. +44 (0)20 8404 4880 email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The BedZED Pavilion (on-site community centre) is also available to hire, for day, evening and weekend events. Event catering can also be arranged. For enquiries regarding Pavilion hire please tel. +44 (0)20 8544 5113 or email email@example.com www.bedzedpavilion.org.uk.
- BedZED property sales & lettings
Please note that the BedZED Centre does not handle sales or lettings of BedZED properties. For commercial and social letting enquiries please contact Peabody tel.+44 (0)20 7928 7811 and for residential sales contact local estate agents.
Since BedZED residents moved in March 2002, BioRegional has continued to work on other new and existing sustainable communities.
One Planet Living framework
One of the key evolutions from BedZED was the development of the One Planet Living sustainability framework, based on ten sustainability principles. It became increasingly clear to us that we needed to take a holistic approach to developing sustainable communities. This is the framework that we now use with partners for projects around the world.
We encourage individuals and organisations to use the One Planet Living framework to examine the sustainability challenges that they face, and to develop appropriate solutions. Find out more
Looking close to home – a One Planet Living plan for BedZED’s wider neighbourhood
Since 2005 we have been working with Sutton Council and local residents and businesses to develop a One Planet Living strategy for the entire borough of Sutton – the borough that BedZED is located within.
Many elements of the strategy are being piloted in the Hackbridge suburb first and will then be rolled out across the borough. The big aim is for Sutton to enable One Planet Living by 2025.
Find out more www.oneplanetsutton.org
Our experience in sustainable communities has led to BioRegional becoming involved in eco-towns. After sitting on the eco-towns challenge panel, where we helped to set challenging standards for proposals to meet, we worked with Cabe (the government’s former advisor on architecture and the built environment) to produce a report giving clear sustainability criteria against which the proposers could judge their plans, and offering ways to monitor progress. Download What makes an eco town?
We are now involved in delivering the Whitehill Bordon eco-town in Hampshire and NW Bicester eco-town in Oxfordshire.
Energy: 81% reduction in energy use for heating, 45% reduction in electricity use (compared to local av.).
Transport: 64% reduction in car mileage 2,318km/year (compared to national av.).
Water: 58% reduction in water use 72 litres/person/day (compared to local av.).
Waste: 60% waste recycled.
Food: 86% of residents buy organic food.
Community: residents know 20 neighbours by name on average.
“We wake up every morning and think we’re on holiday. The heat pours through the windows into the light, airy rooms. We have the sitting room upstairs to make access to the garden across the bridge easy. It’s very flexible”
- Steve Tarbard
- BedZED resident
- BedZED, Civic Trust Award
- 11th March 2004
- In March 2004, BedZED won a civic trust award. The award promotes sust...
- BedZED, ODPM finalist
- 1st March 2003
- In March 2003, BedZED was a finalist in the Deputy Prime Minister's Aw...
- BedZED, short listed Stirling Prize
- 20th October 2003
- In October 2003, BedZED was short listed for this prestigious national...