BedZED: The UK's Biggest Eco-Community

The government’is committed to making all new homes and house building carbon neutral in the ongoing fight to prevent climate change. This will mean that all the carbon released in the build and day to day living in a property is neutralised by sequestering the same amount, therefore offsetting the effects. Sounds great – but making our homes green is easier said than done.

Many lessons can be learned by one existing eco community, which has been designed with carbon neutrality in mind. The Beddington Zero Energy Development – also known as BedZED, is the first and largest green, eco community in the UK. Its aim was to build an affordable, desirable and green place to live. In this article, we’re looking at the BedZED development in more detail.

What Is BedZED?

BedZED is an eco community, consisting of 82 homes built on reclaimed land in Wallington, Surrey and was completed in 2002. According to the Peabody Trust, the social minded housing association and charity in London behind the development:

“The BedZED design concept was driven by the desire to create a net ‘zero fossil energy development’, one that will produce at least as much energy from renewable sources as it consumes. Only energy from renewable sources is used to meet the energy needs of the development. BedZED is therefore a carbon neutral development – resulting in no net addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.”

The Main Features of BedZED

Green Buildings The buildings were made using material specially designed to store heat when warm and release heat when colder – plus there’s also the benefit of insulation around all the buildings. The build site was chosen because of its south facing position – which maximises the amount of sunlight reaching each property.

Renewable Materials The BedZED eco community is built using renewable or recycled materials, sourced from sustainable forests and other sources. This helps to minimise the carbon footprint that went into the making of the homes.

Innovative Heating The design of each property means that all excess heat given off during everyday activities such as heating and cooking is stored and reused again. This helps to ensure that all forms of heat are used and not wasted, which in some cases eliminates the need to turn the heating on at all.

Reduce Energy Consumption The finish in each property is designed with the environment in mind. This includes energy saving appliances and light bulbs as standard. The use of energy meters in each home helps make energy consumption more visible to each individual in their home, and more aware of how much energy each task in the home uses up.

Self Sufficient Heating and Electricity BedZED receives its power from a small-scale combined heat and power plant. In energy generation at a coal power station, for example, the by product of heat that is given off during the generation of electricity is lost. With combined heat and power energy generation, this energy itself is harnessed and put into the system, used to heat water for all the properties, distributed using extra insulated pipes.

The plant itself is powered by off-cuts from tree surgery waste, which would otherwise reach the landfill.

BedZED: Changing House Building

The BedZED development caused a stir in the media when it was finished and opened in 2002 and has been praised for its environmental innovations. However the development has had its share of problems too – in particular overspend on its original budget, and several issues with the technology. However it can’t be denied that BedZED has changed house builders’ views on creating sustainable communities.