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Marcus Lyon/BioRegional

A guide to the UKs first large-scale mixed use sustainable community
the inspiration for low carbon projects around the world

Why we need sustainable

If all the world lived like the
average western European wed
need three planets to support us.


The chart below shows the

average ecological footprint of
people around the world and it
is clear that developed nations
need to tackle high levels of
consumption and energy use.
The fair and sustainable aim
would be for around 1.8 hectares
of land to produce the resources
and deal with the waste of each
person on the planet.
If they are designed well with
good public transport links,
community facilities and low
energy features, our homes
and communities can help us
to manage our lifestyles at the
sustainable one planet level
whilst improving our quality
of life.
Truly sustainable communities
must also make financial sense
in terms of build cost, sale price,
rent levels and running costs.
Monitoring the performance of
these communities is important
to help identify successes and
areas for improvement that
can be considered in the next
generation projects.

Green goes mainstream

Completed in 2002, Beddington Zero
Energy Development, or BedZED, was
the UKs first large-scale mixed use
sustainable community.
The aim was to create a thriving
community in which ordinary people
could enjoy a high quality of life, while
living within their fair share (<1.8
hectares) of the earths resources.
BedZED was initiated by sustainability
experts BioRegional and architects
ZEDfactory, and developed by housing
association Peabody.
Of the 100 homes 50% are for sale or
market rent, 25% for shared ownership
and 25% is social housing for rent.
The homes range from studio flats to
4 bedroom maisonettes. They house
approximately 220 people and there
is office space for around 100 people.
Community facilities are also on-site.

Per capita ecological footprint, by country, 2006

BedZEDs History
ZEDfactorys Bill Dunster wanted
to apply his dense, mixed-use zero
energy design on a larger scale after
his prototype, Hope House, whilst
BioRegional had outgrown its offices
in the nearby Ecology Centre.
The partners looked for a developer.
Peabody came forward, being
particularly interested in the reduced
running costs for its social tenants due
to energy and water efficiencies.
Peabody bought the site from
Sutton Council. The environmental
benefits mainly from reducing CO2
were quantified by independent
accountants at around 200,000 and
this led to a reduced price for the land.
Based upon extensive community
consultation, detailed planning
applications were approved in 1999,
construction began in 2000 and
first residents had moved in by 2002.

The site
BedZED is situated in the London
Borough of Sutton, on a 1.8 hectare
brownfield site close to Hackbridge
railway station. It is a high density
development at 100 homes per
hectare (excluding the sports pitch
and Pavilion building).

Photovoltaic panels
Workspaces and
north-facing apartments

Mews-type access

Green roof and roof gardens

Costs and savings

Land cost: The bid was not the
highest in cash terms, but in a UK
first, Sutton Council agreed to sell the
land below market value provided
that the benefits flowing to the
borough outweigh the loss of any
capital receipt achievable. Auditors
placed the largest value on reducing
CO2; the value of the scheme over
the conventional competitor was
then between 100,000 - 200,000.

Besides homes and office space,

on-site facilities include the village
square, sports pitch, waste water
recycling plant, six recycling areas,
car club, bicycle storage areas and
the community Pavilion.


Original site plan.

Rainwater store

Build cost: The build cost was

15 million, excluding land costs. This
figure includes significant research
and development spend due to
BedZED being a prototype. More
recent schemes, such as BioRegional
Quintain & Crest Nicholsons One
Brighton, are within the acceptable
cost range for inner city apartments.
Market purchase/rent cost: 5-20%
above local averages for similar
sized properties. Running costs:
anecdotally around 50% less on
utility bills.

Source: Global Footprint Network - The Ecological Wealth of Nations 2010


Mix of apartments,
maisonettes and

BedZED homes are kept at

comfortable temperatures using
simple passive architectural
techniques such as solar gain, high
levels of insulation and excellent
standards of air tightness.
South facing homes are fronted
with conservatories to capture
warmth from the sun. The
remaining heat comes from
occupants (their bodies and
appliances) and a top-up system
using a small fin radiator when
Super insulation (with 300mm of
Rockwool) and thermally massive
construction materials store the
heat to keep the homes consistently
warm in the winter and cool in the
The colourful wind cowls provide
wind powered ventilation with heat
recovery to keep internal air quality
high without losing heat.
Good day lighting and energy
efficient appliances reduce the
electricity demand, and prominent
energy meters in the kitchens have
led to further efficiencies.

Performance in 2007
77% less energy used for
heating and hot water
compared to Sutton average
(per person per day)


Energy efficient

34% less electricity used

compared to Sutton average
(per person per day)
Lessons learned
The low tech passive design has
worked well, although residents
need to understand how their
homes work to get the most
from them. For example, homes
can overheat in summer if the
conservatory windows are not
managed well and a massive plasma
TV can quickly outweigh the benefits
of an efficient fridge. Most residents
learn these tips from talking to their
neighbours and by paying attention
to their smart meters.

Water, hot water and electricity meters are

visible at eye level.

The wind cowls are something of an emblem for

BedZED, by using wind they supply the buildings
with fresh air without using any electricity.

Super-insulation with wall tie. The ties had to be

made especially to tie 300mm of rockwool.

Zero carbon energy

BedZED was designed to be
powered by 100% on-site renewable
energy. The roofs carry 777m2 of
solar photovoltaic (PV) panels,
which provide up to 20% of the
electrical demand. A 130kW
electricity and 250kW heat biomass
combined heat and power (CHP)
unit was installed to provide the
remaining electricity and all the hot
water through a district heating
system, using tree surgery waste
from the local Croydon TreeStation,
set-up by BioRegional and partners.
BedZED is connected to the
national grid, which acts as a
battery to smooth out variations in
demand based on the CHP and PV
panels constant output. Gas boilers
act as a backup for hot water.

The solar PV panels have
performed adequately, but remain
an expensive option. The CHP is
a prototype which never ran at
full capacity. It faced a variety of
technical problems which were
exacerbated by planning constraints
requiring the plant to shut down
each night to reduce noise. The
company operating the CHP ceased
trading in 2005, so the CHP isnt
currently in use.

Lessons learned
Choosing more proven technology
and establishing a specialist
management entity would have
avoided the CHP problems. Energy
Service Companies (ESCOs) are
best placed to select, install and
maintain energy equipment. For
sites as small as BedZED, trying to
generate all energy on-site may not
always be the best option.

Whats new
Peabody and BioRegional are
currently working to replace the
CHP, most likely with a biomass
boiler. BedZED will continue to
import most of its electricity from
the national grid, ideally from a
green tariff in the future.
Wind powered ventilation cowls and PV panels.

Andy Aitchison

How the BedZED system was originally designed to work.

Wood chip from waste wood is produced at

the TreeStation; it is being used at Sloughs
CHP and can be used at BedZED in the future.

Sustainable materials
The carbon footprint of materials
were measured and reduced by 25%
with little extra cost, in fact some
choices cost less.
Reclaimed, recycled and local
materials were prioritised. New
timber is FSC certified. BedZED is
designed to stand for 100 years,
more than double the typical
UK home.
BREs assessment found that
although more materials were
needed (mainly for insulation)

compared to a conventional
design, the strategy reduced their
embodied impact by 25% keeping it
in line with a standard build type.
Some big environmental and
financial successes included
concrete slabs in place of in-situ
concrete and wooden windows in
place of uPVC and aluminium.
Lessons learned
As reclaimed materials take longer
to source it is essential to have early
design information so that materials
can be sourced in plenty of time.

98 tonnes of steel reclaimed from Brighton

railway station was reused at BedZED saving
81,850 kg of Co2 and costing no more than
new steel.

Sustainable transport
BedZEDs travel plan includes a
reduced number of parking spaces;
London's first car club in a new
development; 40 free electric car
charging points; a living streets
/ home zone layout to prioritise
pedestrians and cyclists; excellent
public transport links and ample
provision for cyclists.
Performance in 2007
Residents drive an average of
2,318km/year, which is 64% lower
than the national mileage. Some
of this can be attributed to a
higher-than-average proportion of
social tenants, but it also indicates
significant behaviour changes.

With the electric car market yet to

take off there are only a few cars
using the chargers, however 10
households and most offices are in
the car club and half the residents
own a bike. BedZED residents fly an
average of 10,063 km/year, much
more than locally at 3,321 km/year.
Lessons learned
The transport plan is an effective
and cost efficient way of reducing
CO2, but wider changes are needed
to meet the UK governments 80%
CO2 reduction target. Transport
infrastructure in south London
and Surrey needs to de-prioritise
cars; and residents need more
community facilities and shops
within easy access.

Car Club
City Car Club offers residents and
businesses (both on site and in
the surrounding area) a pay-asyou-go hourly car rental service
as a practical alternative to car
ownership. BedZEDs car club was
the first in London as part of a new
development, and has continued to
have excellent uptake.
Three on-site cars enable members
to make journeys not practical by
public transport or other means.
Booking is quick and easy: online or
by phone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week. Members unlock the car with
a smart card, enter a PIN and drive
away. The car is then returned at the
end of the booking and locked with
the smart card.


BedZED has excellent public transport links; this was one of the main reasons
that the site was selected.

The railway station is

less than 10 minute
walk where trains
travel to central
London in 25 minutes.

The tram stop is a 15 minute walk away

taking passengers to the town centres of
Wimbledon and Croydon and linking to
underground lines.

There are bus stops

right outside the site.

A national cycle route runs close to the

site and first residents were given cycle
guides and training when they moved
in. Bike storage includes bike bins,
Sheffield stands, wall handles and
room inside homes.

For more information on BedZEDs transport strategy download the

Green Transport Plan from BioRegionals web site: www.bioregional.com.

Being a member of City Car Club

removes the need for car ownership;
47% of all members give up or defer
purchase of a car, 30% drive fewer
miles and 40% increase their noncar transport.
As well as access to the BedZED
cars, members can make use of the
entire network of hundreds of cars
that City Car Club has across 7 UK
cities: www.citycarclub.co.uk

There are 40 electric vehicle charging points

around the site providing free electricity for
vehicles. Many of the chargers are not currently used as the electric vehicle market is
yet to take off in the UK but with rising petrol
prices it is only a matter of time before electric
vehicles become more popular.

BedZEDs sustainable urban
drainage system (SUDS) reduces
on-site flooding and boosts
biodiversity. It includes permeable
paving, green roofs planted with
sedum, and a soakaway ditch which
allows water to run into the aquifer
rather than overwhelming Londons
overstretched Victorian sewerage
system. The MBR (detailed below)
also reduces the sites reliance on
the standard sewerage system.

Performance in 2007
On average each resident uses 72
litres of mains water / day, 58%
lower than the London average.
This is topped up with 15 litres of
recycled or rain water for flushing

Because of its population density

London actually has less water per
person than Sudan so reducing
water use is vital.
Water efficient appliances and
fixtures and fittings such as dual
flush toilets, low flow taps, aerated
showers and water efficient washing
machines reduce mains water use
and can all be bought on the
high street.

Lessons learned
Though useful for research, where
buildings can link to conventional
local sewage systems this is usually
a better option. This is because our
standard sewerage is often more
energy efficient and cheaper to
install compared to on-site effluent

Large rainwater collection cylinders run along

the length of each of the blocks.

Bathrooms and kitchens come with water

efficient appliances and fittings installed.

Paving is laid without cement to allow water

to run down naturally into the aquifer.

It is part of a 3-year research project

looking into options for using onsite treatment to augment water
supply for London and to see if the
running and energy costs of on-site
systems can be reduced.

Research areas include process

optimisation, post treatment
efficiency and effectiveness and
energy usage. A metering system
monitors reclaimed and potable
water throughout the site.

George Garnier

The roofs and ditch are also

planted with local species to create
a feeding ground and migration
corridor for birds and insects.

Rain water can be collected in large

underground containers for flushing
toilets. This makes a big saving
because around 30% of domestic
water use is from toilet flushing.

UKs first membrane bioreactor

Thames Water & Peabody have
introduced the UKs first membrane
bioreactor, or MBR, for reusing
BedZEDs grey and black effluent
for toilet flushing and irrigation.

Reclaimed water tanks

under housing blocks 1-7

Green water
treatment plant



2 pumping stations
2 septic tanks
3mm screens

Membrane bioreactor
Biological treatment:
anoxic and aerobic zone
Membrane separation step:
2 x 3 ZW500c modules

Granular activated carbon

All housing blocks

Homes and offices use the standard
local authority recycling service
with communal bins for paper,
card, textiles, plastic, tin and glass
around the perimeter. With 40%
of office waste made up of white
paper, there is also a separate white
paper bin so that the paper can be
easily recycled back into high grade
office paper.
Segregated bins in the kitchens
and conveniently-located external
recycling bins make recycling easy.
Other waste initiatives have come
from the community such as

A variety of low impact food
schemes have been trialled: food
growing training, allotments, a local
produce box scheme, a weekly local
market and an on-site cafe.

a residents newsletter, email group,

community composting group and
informal peer education.
Performance in 2007
A small-scale study indicates that
residents recycle or compost 60% of
waste; BioRegionals office, within
BedZED, only sends 13% of its
waste to landfill.
Lessons learned
Kerb side collections can make
recycling easier and are better for
stopping waste contamination.
Regular recycling reminders should
be given to residents.

Today a local fruit and veg van visits

the site each week and weekly food
deliveries remain popular with 25%
of households receiving an organic
box and 18% using a supermarket
delivery service.

Looking from above BedZED is very green due to the green
roofs and sky gardens. This means that birds are attracted
to the site and insects also thrive. A study showed that 16
species of spiders were living on the green roofs alone.
Borders are planted with local lavender and rosemary and
native trees were selected for the village square.
The soakaway ditch (pictured right) which runs along the
front of the site is planted with native plants to provide bog
habitat for frogs, toads and insects.

Segregated recycling bins are situated under

kitchen sinks, they correspond with the
communal waste bins outside.

Performance in 2007
The ecological footprint of food
at BedZED is 7% smaller than the
Sutton average . This is mainly due
to 25% of residents food being

Chinas Minister for Construction takes a

tour of the site.

Inspiring greater change

By showing what is possible, even if its not perfect yet, BedZED and its monitoring information has helped to drive
the UK governments legislation for all new homes to be built to zero carbon standards by 2016.
The subsequent One Planet Living framework that has been developed by BioRegional and WWF based on the
lessons from BedZED is now guiding the development of communities around the world. It includes principles such
as zero carbon, zero waste, land and wildlife and health and happiness.

BedZEDs partners continue to contribute to the debate at conferences and in the media. With CABE, BioRegional
has provided guidance for eco-town stakeholders in the form of What makes an eco-town? and its Director advises
on Londons government on sustainability through the London Sustainable Development Commission.

Marcus Lyon/BioRegional

We have welcomed more than 30,000 visitors to BedZED including many government ministers from the UK and
further afield: Sweden, China, USA, France, Australia and elsewhere. BioRegional runs weekly tours and a visitor
centre and publishes free research reports.

Quality of life
Homes should stay at comfortable
temperatures with fresh, dry air
to prevent health problems such
as asthma. Residents generally
find the homes sufficiently warm
and fresh in the winter, whereas in
the summer opinions range from
thinking their homes are fine to
those who find them too hot
or stuffy.
The layout of the site with shared
spaces creates more informal
opportunities to meet neighbours,
and community facilities help to
foster a strong sense of community.
On average residents know 20

So does this mean that

BedZED is sustainable?
The results from our monitoring
are quite encouraging. The average
BedZED resident has an ecological
footprint of 4.67 global hectares, or
4.32 were the CHP working. A keen
resident can reduce their ecological footprint to 3 global hectares. If
everyone on the earth lived like this
wed need 1.7 planets to support us.
To achieve true sustainability
- or one planet living - further
efficiencies need to be made outside
of BedZED. If government, business
services and infrastructure were
improved this would be possible.

of their neighbours by name,

compared to 7 in the wider area,
and most make good use of the
community facilities.
Lessons learned
The strong sense of community is
not only the residents' favourite
feature of BedZED; but it has also
helped them to understand how
best to use their homes and green
facilities. The community has also
gone beyond the original design
to provide their own facilities and
clubs. Investing in community
development is a cost-effective way
of reducing carbon emissions whilst
improving quality of life.
footprint (gha)

We wake up every morning and think

were 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. Its very flexible.
Steve Tarbard, BedZED resident


















One Planet
Living by 2050







Consumer Items






Private Services






Public Services

































Planet equivalents
Reduction from
Carbon footprint
Reduction from

What the partners did next...

One Brighton

Zero carbon


Zero waste
Sustainable transport


Sustainable materials
Local and sustainable food
Sustainable water
Land use and wildlife
Culture and heritage
Equity and local economy
Health and happiness

Zero carbon is top of the housing agenda in the UK,

so architects ZEDfactory have teamed up with a
consortium of suppliers to offer ruralZED, a flexible zero
carbon housing system.
ruralZED provides an affordable solution to the code for
sustainable homes and with a clear upgrade path from
Code 3 to Code 6+. ruralZED uses traditional proven
natural materials and construction techniques designed
for a minimum lifetime of five generations, and uses
technologies and building physics solutions which have
been proven on existing ZEDfactory buildings over the
past ten years. ruralZED is a solution to the 70% of UK
sites which are built at 50 homes per hectare or less.
The ruralZED design is modular, allowing developers to
build an energy efficient frame and then upgrade the
buildings to provide more renewable energy generation
and other technologies over time.

is procuring further
off-site renewable
energy to cover the
remaining electrical
demand. One Brighton
also has comprehensive
lifestyle plans including:
communal roof
allotments, a cycle club
no private car parking and a set of community offices with an
organic cafe.

One Planet Sutton

BioRegional has partnered with the London Borough of
Sutton to work out how every resident and worker in the
borough can achieve a one planet lifestyle. Our action plan
includes zero carbon retrofits across the borough, a local
food network for schools and hospitals, and pioneering work
on well being. Plans are being piloted in a masterplan for
Hackbridge, the suburb thats home to BedZED.

At least 60% of the houses well be living in by 2050 have

already been built. So as well as building sustainable
new homes, Peabody is committed to the development
of long term, mass solutions to dramatically improve
the performance of existing housing stock.
As part of its new vision for exemplary 21st century
communities, launched in December 2009, Peabody has
worked with leading researchers to examine how it can
move towards cutting carbon emissions from its homes
by 60% before 2025. Peabody has already achieved the
goal in two large 1950s tower blocks, and its current
projects include a feasibility study across 550 homes in
Westminster to assess the costs of meeting the 60%
target. In addition, Peabody has won grant funding to
pilot innovative low carbon building technology to vastly
improve the energy efficiency of typical UK homes.
Peabody is determined to play its full part in achieving
an environmentally sustainable future for London and
its people.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

After BedZED, we developed the 10 One Planet Living

principles to help us create more effective strategies for
sustainable communities, companies and individuals.
We work with partners (such as BioRegional Quintain
and London Borough of Sutton - see right) to develop
projects using the One Planet Living framework.

BioRegional Quintain
& Crest Nicholson have
built this landmark
community on the south
coast. The flats are energy
efficient and supplied by
a biomass boiler and solar
PV panels. The project

BioRegional, BedZED Centre, 24 Helios Road,

Wallington, Surrey SM6 7BZ
+44 (0)202 8404 4880

For more information

Visit the BedZED Centre: come on a tour or just for a
free look round the exhibition and show home.

Marcus Lyon/BioRegional

Download free BedZED research: BioRegional

has carried out three years of monitoring and
undertaken a construction materials study. A study
has also been carried out on residents opinions.

We are grateful to the Naturesave Trust for their generous

contribution towards the printing costs of this publication.