Case Study Bedzed House

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  £1,391 a year compared to an average London household with its own car. That’s nearly £4 a day.
  • 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.

High ambitions

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.

Visiting BedZED

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 25 people. The 45 minute monthly tour 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. Please book online here.

Monthly tours: £18 for full price tickets, or £12 for concessions (students, pensioners and those who are on benefits).

Bespoke tours: For groups of 10 adults or more it may be possible to organise bespoke tours on any weekday between 9.30 am and 4.00 pm. Bespoke tours cost £24 per person (£18 concessions) and include a visit inside a BedZED home and a chance to sit down afterwards for further discussion with (or a presentation from)  a Bioregional representative. Bespoke tours last 1.5 hours. Tours of 15 or more students can also be arranged at £12 per student and last 45 minutes. Students must bring student ID with them. Please email for any bespoke tour enquiries.

Please book your tour with us here.

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.

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 BuildingsThe 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 MaterialsThe 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 HeatingThe 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 ConsumptionThe 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 ElectricityBedZED 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.

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I need to save Iris, where has she gone (I don't know). I want to rent a room from BedZed. Can someone tell me, How sustainable is Bedzed?

Flash - 6-Apr-17 @ 11:53 AM

hes safe and sound with me (he he he)

Philip - 23-Mar-17 @ 2:42 PM

Can anyone help me find my son

CosmicTommo - 23-Mar-17 @ 1:51 PM

hi please can you help me answer these questions How have they made BedZED zero emissions ?

kezz - 6-Mar-17 @ 10:41 AM

hi please can you help me answer a few questions the first thing i want to ask is if you can answer these questions >How have they made BedZED zero emissions ?

kezz - 6-Mar-17 @ 10:40 AM

clark - Your Question:

Is there a typo on the second line or how can you possibly believe that the government is actually going to complete there goal?

Our Response:

No, not a typo, it was written in 2008 and clearly then it was thought to be achievable by now! We've changed the text at the beginning of the article.

EnergySavingSecrets - 7-Dec-16 @ 12:36 PM

is there a typo on the second line or how can you possibly believe that the government is actually going to completethere goal?

clark - 6-Dec-16 @ 3:08 PM

my dad abused me, every night he would hit me and it wouldnt stop

gaddafi - 29-Nov-16 @ 1:01 PM

BedZED is sick.Loving those energy saving windows and whatever, only complaint is the fact living here is hell with the bloody vegans...

squilla the lady kil - 25-Nov-15 @ 12:50 PM

what is it like to live in bedZED

grackle4444 - 19-Feb-15 @ 5:36 PM


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