Tag Archives: Eco community

NW Bicester

Bioregional Oxfordshire supported the development of the UK’s first eco-town North West Bicester, from 2010 to 2017, through a long-term partnership with lead developer, A2Dominion, and the local authority, Cherwell District Council

The UK’s first eco-town

NW Bicester eco-town is a 6,000-home extension to the market town of Bicester, with highly sustainable, true zero-carbon homes plus workplaces, schools, community facilities and abundant green space.

It is the only development to be built to the original high sustainability standards outlined in the UK’s official government Eco Towns Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 2009. The policy was scrapped in 2015.

Bioregional got involved with the eco-town process in 2008 when our CEO Sue Riddlestone OBE sat on its advisory panel, helping to define the standards for the PPS.

Following this work , Bioregional started working with NW Bicester’s lead developer A2Dominion and the planning authority, Cherwell District Council to help deliver the eco-town.

Working across the traditional planning divide, we took a collaborative approach to understanding the PPS standards and developing the strategies to deliver them.  We provided advice on energy, waste, water, landscape, transport, green space and nature, and employment strategies.

We have also helped deliver sustainability benefits across the wider town by working with the local authority and other organisations. Read more.

What makes a One Planet Community?

Elmsbrook is the first phase of the eco-town, a 393-home One Planet Community. Bioregional helped A2Dominion to prepare an ambitious sustainability action plan using the One Planet Living framework. This action plan was then endorsed by Bioregional in 2012.

Construction of Elmsbrook began in the spring of 2014, with the first residents moving in mid-2016.

With a local office nearby in Bicester, Bioregional Oxfordshire worked with A2Dominion during the  first phase to ensure it fulfils its sustainability promises.

The 393-home One Planet Community includes a primary school, community centre, an eco-business centre and local neighbourhood shops, creating a village feel.

  • All homes are built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 incorporating triple glazing, rainwater harvesting and water recycling.
  • Electricity is generated from PV solar panels on every home (34 square metres per property on average) which, when complete, will make this the UK’s largest residential solar array.
  • Heat and hot water come from the community’s own combined heat and power plant. The ambition is to eventually use waste heat from the existing Ardley energy-from-waste facility nearby.
  • With cycle and pedestrian routes, a bus stop within 400 metres of every home, live timetable updates in each home, charging points for electric vehicles and an electric car club, residents are being encouraged to adopt sustainable modes of travel.

Zibi, Ottawa becomes the world’s 10th One Planet Community

Bioregional has endorsed Ottawa-Gatineau’s Zibi project as Canada’s first One Planet Community and the world’s tenth.

laval_plaza smallOne Planet Community status is the gold standard in sustainability ambition for development projects, representing not just endorsement of green building standards but an ongoing commitment to all aspects of sustainable development through the lifetime of a project. Zibi, which means ‘river’ in the Algonquin language, is a waterfront area located in the downtown cores of Ottawa and Gatineau overlooking both the Ottawa River and Chaudière Falls. The name of the development was chosen as a public commitment to the Algonquin-Anishinabe people, on whose unceded land the Ottawa Valley, much of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec is situated.

Redeveloped from industrial brownfield land once dominated by a paper mill, the 37-acre site will include a blend of commercial and retail properties, condominium developments, a hotel, waterfront parks and open spaces and a network of pedestrian and cycling paths.

Over three million square feet of development is planned. Zibi will provide a unique opportunity for people to live, work, play and learn in one of the National Capital Region’s most picturesque and historic areas. Working with Bioregional, developers Windmill Development Group and Dream Unlimited Corp. have used the 10 principles of the One Planet Living framework to help guide sustainability and eco-friendly planning for Zibi. Its One Planet Community status is underpinned by a sustainability action plan based on these 10 principles.

Zibi’s plan highlights include:

  • A district-wide energy system, which aims to provide Zibi with zero carbon energy by 2020
  • A target for only 2% or less of the waste generated by the completed development to go to landfill
  • 90% reduction in transport greenhouse gas emissions compared to the regional average, thanks to prioritising walking, cycling and charging points for electric vehicles
  • Cutting water use by more than half compared to the regional average – water-using appliances will be super-efficient and non-potable water will be used for irrigation of green spaces and toilet flushing
  • Radically increasing biodiversity (by 400%) above existing levels on the site
  • Housing opportunities for a diverse range of renters and buyers, and preferential allocation in some of the commercial space to local and socially responsible businesses
  • Working together with the Algonquin-Anishinabe community in ways that generate lasting and tangible benefits to present and future generations; creating a new model for how private developers engage with First Nations in Canada

A strong point of Windmill and Dream’s commitment with First Nations and to the One Planet community framework is the creation by the Algonquin-Anishinabe of an Advisory Council on Integrity. The Committee is made up of individuals who believe in the importance of sustainability, and who wish to ensure the integrity and appropriateness of the Zibi development on issues of First Nations culture, heritage and socio-economics.

Pooran Desai OBE, Co-founder of Bioregional and International Director of its One Planet Communities Programme commented: “If everyone on earth consumed natural resources at the same rate as the average Canadian we would need four planets to support us. One Planet Communities – like Zibi aims to be – are places where it is easy, attractive and affordable for people to lead happy and healthy lives within the environmental limits of the planet.

“We are thrilled to launch the Canadian flagship in the One Planet Communities network with such an ambitious and innovative project. Zibi sets a new standard for sustainable development in Canada. Windmill is showing leadership at the global level and we are delighted that Zibi is joining our network of the earth’s greenest neighbourhoods.”

Rodney Wilts, Partner of Windmill Development commented: “This endorsement from Bioregional – and the required planning and monitoring that goes with it – brings us that much closer to our vision of creating one of the world’s most sustainable communities. We are not just focusing on the energy, water and resource saving performance of the buildings; we are equally concerned with encouraging and supporting sustainable behaviours from its residents, visitors and the businesses working
out of it.”

Jason Lester, Senior Vice President of Urban Development at Dream commented: “Becoming a One Planet Community is more than receiving a stamp of approval. It’s a long-term commitment to bring our ambitious plan to life and to continue to work diligently to build a better community through sustainability.”

Brenda Odjick, Chair of the Algonquin-Anishinabe Advisory Committee on Integrity commented: “Windmill has extended a hand in friendship to the Algonquin-Anisinabe people. Never before has a private developer been as inclusive and collaborative in this part of Canada, and as consistent with the Algonquin values attached to the environment and to community.”

Bicester pips competition to win green apple award

bicesterThe organisations behind the delivery of 6,000 true zero carbon homes at North West Bicester have won an international award for their dedication to sustainability

Cherwell District Council’s EcoBicester team, Bioregional and NW Bicester eco-town developers A2Dominion have jointly been awarded the Green Apple Environment award for the Built Environment category.

The awards recognised the organisations’ One Shared Vision initiative to extend the sustainability concept for 6,000 true zero carbon homes at NW Bicester in Oxfordshire, the UK’s first eco-town, across the rest of the town. The first, Exemplar phase with just under 400 homes is now under construction.

The annual Green Apple Environment awards have been awarded  since 1994 to promote, recognise and reward schemes which promote environmental best practice across the world.

Lewis Knight, Bioregional’s Bicester Eco Town project manager said: “This is an ambitious project that will make sustainable living a reality. Being recognised as a One Planet Community differentiates the first, Exemplar phase o f NW Bicester from other schemes claiming green credentials and positions the project amongst some of the greenest neighbourhoods in the world.”

Gabi Kaiser of Cherwell’s EcoBicester project team, said: “The main achievement of the EcoBicester programme is to encourage the growth in sustainability culture and awareness of environmental issues by the people and businesses of Bicester. It is founded on a strong aspiration to ensure existing residents feel the benefits of the development at NW Bicester by creating a low carbon strategy for the town.”

Louise Caves, strategic partnership manager at A2Dominion, said: “Through partnership working we are able to create a truly exemplary and sustainable town for the 21st century.”

The Green Apple Awards are organised by the not-for-profit Green Organisation to promote sustainable living. Cherwell, Bioregional and A2Dominion were nominated for an award in the Built Environment category which recognises the success of the Eco-town development and the wider sustainability work across all of Bicester.

In their award submission, the three partners highlighted the high sustainability standards being met through the new development, including the use of a combined heat and power plant and photovoltaic panels to supply electricity and heat to homes. These efforts have helped the site to become one of only nine One Planet  Communities worldwide, with a sustainability action plan endorsed by Bioregional and based on ten One Planet Living principles.

Across the rest of Bicester, sustainability efforts have included a town-wide retrofitting of public and community buildings as well as individual homes and annual bike days.

For more information on the awards visit www.thegreenorganisation.info

Eco Bicester Living Lab PhD studentship opportunity

Help evaluate the actual performance of building progress of the UK’s first eco-town, the NW Bicester Exemplar development, against the aspirations set for the eco-town as an endorsed One Planet Community.

The Low Carbon Building (LCB) Research Group of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD) and School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University are pleased to offer a three-year full-time PhD Studentship starting in May 2015. The studentship is funded by Oxford Brookes University to mark its 150th Anniversary, Bioregional, Cherwell District Council and A2Dominon, under the umbrella of the Eco-Bicester Living Lab (EBLL). EBLL is a unique cross-sector and cross-disciplinary initiative established by OISD and Bioregional, in which novel ideas related to sustainability are tested in the urban realm with the explicit goal of learning for continuous feedback and improvement.

The successful applicant will receive an annual bursary of £11,000 for three years and the tuition fees will be paid by the University. The successful candidate will be based within the LCB Group, under the supervision of Professor Rajat Gupta (Director of OISD and LCB Group) and BioRegional.

Topic of research: Evaluating the actual performance of the NW Bicester Exemplar development against the aspirations set for an eco-town and one planet community

The first phase of NW Bicester eco-town development known as the Exemplar is currently on site and involves construction of 393 highly energy-efficient homes, creating UK’s first true zero-carbon community. The doctoral research study will be designed to address the overarching question: How effective is an exemplar development in meeting the design expectations of an eco-town and aspirations of a one planet community?

The underlying approach will be case-study based, adopting mixed-methods, drawing from building performance evaluation (BPE) techniques and carbon foot-printing methods, combining empirical quantitative data collection (physical monitoring, carbon and ecological footprint analysis) with qualitative methods (questionnaire survey and interviews).

As a successful applicant, you will join an internationally leading research group and will be expected to contribute to the wider research activities of the LCB Group and Eco-Bicester Living lab.

Eligibility: Applications are invited from Home/EU/International students. We are looking to recruit a candidate of the highest quality and who is capable of submitting a Ph.D. thesis within 3 years. Applicants are expected to have completed a relevant Masters degree prior to the Studentship start date. The Studentship holder may also be required to complete supplementary research methods training in their first year of study. Applicants should also be able to demonstrate strong research capabilities and be fluent in spoken and written English.

The selection criteria will focus on academic excellence, suitability of research experience and skills, subject knowledge and references.

Deadline: The closing date for applications is 17:00 on Monday 16 March 2015
Interview date:
Interviews will be held in the week commencing 30 March 2015
Start date: 5 May 2015
How to apply: If you would like to apply you should request an application pack from Ms Zane Kalnina, tdestudentships@brookes.ac.uk quoting ‘Eco-Bicester Living Lab PhD studentship’ in the subject line.

Housing minister visits NW Bicester eco-town

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP visited North West Bicester, the UK’s first eco-town and a One Planet Living Community, in December and saw the first timber frame buildings being constructed on site.

The visit on December 12 came just after the Government’s announcement  that Bicester would receive a multi-million pound award after meeting the criteria for a Garden Town.  Bioregional is working with NW Bicester developer A2Dominion and Cherwell District Council to ensure the first, 400 home phase of the eco-town and the remainder meet high sustainability standards. Mr Lewis met A2Dominion’s NW Bicester project director Steve Hornblow and strategic partnership co-ordinator Louise Caves.

John Knevett, Group Chief Commercial Officer and Deputy Group Chief Executive at A2Dominion, said:

“It is important to stress that the 13,000 homes announced have always been included in the local plan for Bicester and the 6,000 true zero carbon homes planned for NW Bicester is part of this delivery. We believe that the UK’s first eco town will contribute significantly to the garden city initiative. NW Bicester is already under construction with the first residents due to occupy their new homes by the middle of 2015.

“We believe there is no other scheme that incorporates such green infrastructure and energy-efficient design whilst protecting and enhancing the existing landscape and this makes NW Bicester a community of high quality homes that every generation can enjoy for generations to come. A2Dominion developments make it easy, attractive and affordable for people of all ages to live healthy, sustainable lifestyles without compromising the needs of future generations.

“As well as being a developer, we are also a provider of affordable housing. As such we will be involved on a long term basis at NW Bicester supporting residents across the wider development as it evolves.”


Eco-Bicester – best in Europe

The Eco-Bicester programme run by Cherwell District Council, with Bioregional, has won a prestigious European energy award after being nominated by the National Energy Foundation earlier this year.

It scooped the ACE Award Overall Winner in the category Energy Smart Municipalities.

The energy-saving Eco-Bicester programme combines a town-wide energy efficiency programme with the building of a new 6,000 home eco town – the only true zero carbon large scale housing development in the UK. Work began this year on the first ‘Exemplar’ phase of the eco-town with 393 homes, one of Bioregional’s nine One Planet Communities.

The energy efficiency programme in the existing town of Bicester has engaged over 30,000 residents through discounted insulation and boiler replacements, energy saving workshops and six demonstration sites, including a PassivHauss home and a leisure centre and swimming pool powered by a biomass boiler and solar panels.

The awards were announced in the Netherlands at the Ace Awards Finale, one of Europe’s most high-profile events for achievements in renewable and sustainable energy. Cherwell District Council competed in the category of Energy Smart Municipalities against other European local authorities who have developed pioneering or innovative approaches to promoting sustainable energy.

Leader of Cherwell District Council, Councillor Barry Wood, said: “The Eco-Bicester initiative is using zero carbon development to change people’s behaviour, ensuring the entire Bicester community benefits from the changes that are taking place. We hope that through this award we can inspire other councils to see energy transition as a means to create better places to live and work in an eco-friendly way.”

Nicole Lazarus, Bioregional’s Bicester Eco-Town Programme Manager, said: “This award is richly deserved. Cherwell showed real foresight in bringing energy saving benefits to the whole town of Bicester while setting out to develop a pioneering eco-town extension. We’re very proud and happy to have been so deeply involved in this Eco-Bicester programme.”

Ace is a renewable energy initiative spanning several North West European countries which promotes the importance of renewable energy in the lives of citizens, businesses and local government.

BedZED stars on BBC 2

BedZED, Bioregional’s home, has had a starring role in BBC 2’s Great Interior Design Challenge this month.

Three talented designers unleashed their creativity on major design makeovers for three homes in the eco-village, vying to delight both their residents and the TV series’ two judges, Daniel Hopwood and Sophie Robinson.

At the end of Episode 7 of Design Challenge, all of the residents were happy with their new look living spaces and two of the designers were selected to go through to the competition’s second round.

The second, 16-episode series of the Great Interior Design Challenge is being broadcast in the dead of winter. But the fierce competition in BedZED was filmed for Episode 7 during high summer this year, when the eco-village looked at its verdant best. Much of the contestants’ work crafting new furniture and fittings was done outdoors, on BedZED’s own meadow, with its iconic buildings in the background. David Tchilingirian, BedZED resident taking part in the show, says: “to live in BedZED is to live with more than just neighbours, but a community of people who share life together and try to make the world just a little bit better”.

Tom Dykhoff, the architectural historian and critic who is the show’s compère, waxed lyrical about BedZED’s attractiveness and green features throughout the episode. You can catch up with the episode on BBC iPlayer here (available until  12 December 2014).

WestWyck EcoVillage

A redundant Victorian primary school in a hilltop heritage area in Melbourne  is being transformed into Australia’s first One Planet Living Community. It has already won awards and attracts a stream of visitors.

Recycling a heritage building

WestWyck EcoVillage consists of 30 homes, both town houses and apartments, built within and around the old Brunswick West Primary School. It became Australia’s first endorsed One Planet Community in May 2013 with a One Planet Living action plan agreed between the scheme’s developers, WestWyck Pty Ltd, and Bioregional. In total, 12 of these apartments are located in the old school building which has an official heritage designation.

The One Planet Action Plan applies to Phase Two of the development now under construction, which will provide 18 new apartments, all of which have been sold off plan. Phase One, with 12 homes, was completed in 2008.

One Planet features will include solar photo-voltaic panels with a peak output of 18 kilowatts, high levels of building insulation to reduce energy consumption, rainwater harvesting and grey-water recycling. The plan places a strong emphasis on sustainable lifestyles including low-carbon transport, imported electricity coming from renewable sources, waste minimisation, maximum recycling and growing food on the development.

WestWyck also aims to encourage neighbourliness, with communal facilities such as a bike shed, a clothes drying area and shared garden space; initiatives that have been highly successful in Phase One.

As a pioneering ecovillage WestWyck has a mission to influence people at all levels, from the local community to the state government.

About the developer and partners

The site was originally purchased by a group of local people who wanted the school to retain a viable existence within the community it had served for more than a century. In 1997 two members of this original partnership and long term WestWyck residents, Mike Hill and Lorna Pitt, bought out the shares of the other partners and became sole directors and shareholders of WestWyck Pty Ltd.

Les Villages Nature Paris

Villages Nature® Paris aims to create a new kind of holiday – immersing its one million visitors a year in nature while minimising its impact on the planet

Developed in partnership between Euro Disney and Groupe Pierre & Vacances Center Parcs, Villages Nature® Paris has used One Planet Living throughout a decade of design, planning and construction. This exciting, large-scale sustainable tourist resort is a One Planet Community, with its One Planet Action Plan endorsed by Bioregional. It opened in September 2017. 

Villages Nature® Paris is designed to connect its guests with nature through a range of activities; from its geothermally heated Aqualagoon (a water park with flumes and a natural swimming pool)  to the stunning Extraordinary Gardens with more than 25,000 trees. It also has its own farm, forests, meadows, lake and spa. Pride of place is given to natural materials, green walls and hanging gardens.

The resort is easily accessible by public transport. Sited just three miles from the busy TGV/Eurostar/RER railway station of Marne La Vallee-Chessy, visitors from a large part of north-west Europe will be able to reach it in a few hours by high speed rail. Central Paris is just 35 minutes away by the RER system.

The Annual Review 2016/2017 reveals that the resort has achieved:

  • Embodied energy reduced by 25%: By using lower-carbon materials – such as timber and low-carbon cement – the construction saved approximately 12,000 tonnes of carbon emissions (compared to the French construction average).
  • 100% heat from geothermal energy: All heating and hot water is provided from geothermal energy at Les Villages Nature® Paris and as of 2018 it is connected to Disney as well. It’s estimated that this will save 4,000 tonnes of carbon emissions in the first year.
  • 28,000 new trees and 430,000 shrubs and plants to provide abundant green space for guests to enjoy, and for wildlife to call home.
  • 97% of construction waste diverted from landfill:  100% of the 1 million m3 of soil excavated onsite was reused – enough to fill 400 Olympic swimming pools  and almost 100% of timber felled onsite was reused.

Read more about Les Villages Nature® Paris: 

A One Planet holiday? Meet the destination aiming to revolutionise sustainable tourism

Villages Nature Paris – bringing sustainable tourism to the masses

About the developer and partners

Euro Disney S.C.A owns and operates Disneyland Paris, which has had more than 275 million visits since it opened in 1992.

Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs manages 50,000 holiday apartments and homes across more than 300 sites in Europe.

One Brighton

Two cutting edge apartment buildings in the heart of Britain’s premiere seaside resort have brought sustainable living into the mainstream and achieved commercial success.

Mainstreaming One Planet Living

One Brighton builds on the lessons learnt from BedZED, our pioneering suburban eco-village, and is the first One Planet Community to be completed in the UK.

Developed by Crest Nicholson and BioRegional Quintain, this complex of 172 apartments plus offices, community space and café in two multi-storey blocks next to Brighton’s main train station is saving its residents money, giving them a greener, healthier lifestyle and radically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and water consumption.

One Brighton also turned a profit despite going on sale during the depths of the recession. And it has provided 54 affordable new homes in one of the most expensive UK housing markets outside of London with 31% of its apartments allocated for shared equity or social housing. A further 11% were built as low-cost “Eco-Studios” offering people a first rung on the housing ladder.

Bioregional used the ten One Planet Living principles to draw up a sustainability action plan covering all phases of One Brighton’s life – from early design and planning through construction into its occupation and use in 2010. In 2014 we published a review into its performance against challenging One Planet targets set for 2020 and the lessons learned.

Among the headline results are:

  • Successful planning consent and marketing of UK’s largest private car free development
  • Pouring of greenest concrete frame in UK – post-tensioned concrete comprising 50% ground granulated blast furnace slag and use of 100% secondary aggregates
  • A 67% reduction in operational carbon emissions compared to the UK’s existing housing stock, with potential to achieve an 89% reduction by 2020, approaching the (near) Zero Carbon target for One Planet Communities.
  • Successful introduction of the first designed-in rooftop mini-allotments, inspiring the local planning authority to introduce an award-winning Planning Advisory Note on Food and Planning.

One resident was quoted as saying: “We moved into One Brighton, sold our cars and adopted a healthier lifestyle. In 18 months we lost 35 kg between us.”

The highly insulated, triple glazed buildings designed with architects Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios and built by Denne under a design and build contract are heated by woodfuel pellets. Electricity is sourced from a green power provider through the development’s own energy services company.

Bioregional has also published a detailed life cycle carbon footprint for One Brighton carried out by Australia-based life cycle analysts eTool.

Carbon savings would be even higher if the biomass boiler fulfils its potential and operates for 90% of the time. There has been significant downtime when gas back-up has supplied the heat instead of wood pellets. We are now looking to improve boiler performance so that operational, year to year emissions are cut by 89% compared to the typical UK home, in line with our target for near zero carbon emissions.

An independent assessment also demonstrates that One Brighton’s re-sale and rental values outperform local benchmarks.

About the developers
Crest Nicholson Bioregional Quintain was a special purpose vehicle initiated by Bioregional with financial backing from leading London developer, Quintain Estates and Development PLC in a joint venture with one of the UK’s top ten house builders, Crest Nicholson PLC. Crest Nicholson is a leading UK house-building firm which aims to be the market leader in the design and delivery of sustainable housing and mixed use communities.

Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios are an award-winning UK architectural practice with an international reputation for design quality, for pioneering environmental expertise and a radical architectural approach.