Sustainable Cities™

BedZED: Promoting green living

The eco-village BedZED is more than just bricks and mortar. Besides the fact that it has many innovative new green design features, the mixed-use development has reached a level of true sustainability with residents continually motivated to lead sustainable everyday lives. By introducing a number of impressive measures, BedZED has transcended the level of just an eco friendly place to live and has become an active social environment with strong community values linked to sustainability.

BedZED, Marts 2007, foto af Tom Chance og BioRegional

Located South of London in a town called Wallington, BedZED (Beddington Zero Energy Development) is UK's first and largest eco-village. The multi award-winning project was initiated by the environmental organisation BioRegional and was designed by Bill Dunster Architects. Completed in 2002, the development illustrates the capabilities of present-day environmental technologies and demonstrates that a sustainable lifestyle can be achieved without compromising the characteristics associated with modern urban living.

In its totality, BedZED includes 82 residential homes, 18 live/work units, commercial workspaces, and several on-site facilities. Its developers, planners and residents have infused the community with sustainability, taking a holistic approach and considering the environmental impact of everything - from design, through construction, to specific functions after completion.  In addition to boasting an impressive list of relatively low-tech eco-friendly building features, the development was made using very sustainable strategies, such as construction with mostly recycled materials from sources within a 60 km radius.  Also, in terms of the development's functioning after completion, all aspects of of the resident's lifestyles are related back to sustainability, including food, transport and community gathering.

BedZED, May 2008, photo by Tom Chance and BioRegional

It is this continual relation of the residents' lifestyles back to sustainability that forms possibly the most outstanding aspect of the development. Lifestyle habits such as waste handling, travelling, and food purchasing are all addressed in a well-developed education and employment plan  for the inhabitants that informs them of the exact things they can do to contribute to sustainability. Furthermore, in the first year of residency, "green lifestyle officers" were introduced to motivate residents to a healthy and eco-friendly way of living. Other initiatives include the development of a community forum to incorporate new ideas and deal with recent issues.  Additionally, to better allow for the sharing of such new ideas, there is a café, shop and other community facilities on site that collectively act as a social hub. Through these measures, BedZED has transcended the level of just an eco-friendly place to live and work and has become an active social environment with strong community values linked to sustainability.

BedZED was designed to be a prototype for future developments and, consequently, a number of analyses into BedZED's functioning have been completed since 2002. A recent test in 2006 was conducted after the development's specially-designed power plant failed, revealing that the development was no longer close to carbon neutral standards. However, the average BedZED resident still presently releases a massive 56% less carbon dioxide than the average English citizen and there are clearly many valuable lessons to learn in this respect. At the very least, BedZED demonstrates that a sophisticated scheme of residential areas, workspaces, social gathering sites, and integrated ecological systems can be achieved in a quick and economically viable manner. There is also much to learn from the major effects of the simple community activities that come with the overall lifestyle package of BedZED.  In many ways, they give a landmark quality to the development's pioneering sustainability agenda and provide a major reason for others to buy into the scheme.

"The beauty of BedZED is that there's no need to compromise lifestyle or comfort in order to live in a more sustainable way… We are doing something for the environment simply by living here…" Steve, resident at BedZED

Green Transport Plan

One of BedZED's defining characteristics is its unique approach towards transportation. The entire development has been designed to encourage alternatives to car use and the site was primarily chosen for its excellent public transport links. A specific green transport plan outlines the benefits of walking, cycling and other non-automobile transportation methods, allowing BedZED to reach its goal of a 50% reduction in fossil-fuel consumption by private car use compared with conventional developments. In addition to the green transport plan, the BedZED also offers an onsite car club, cycling facilities, and nearby stores and gathering areas that reduce the need to travel.

BedZED was the first development in the UK to incorporate a new kind of car club called " ZEDcars". It works in partnership with the United Kingdom's leading car-sharing operator, City Car Club, and provides an on-site selection of vehicles available for use.  Also, with innovative features like electrical sockets in parking spaces that can charge electric cars, residents are encouraged to use ZEDcars as an environmentally friendly alternative to car ownership.

Another helpful feature of BedZED's transportation system is the abundance of Dr Bike Sessions: events, which are sponsored by BioRegional and a local group called Cyclism, and provide free 10-minute bike checks and basic repairs. Besides bicycle repair, Dr. Bike Sessions give cyclists a chance to meet with one another and learn about local cycling events and facilities. The sessions are very popular with adults and children from BedZED as well as members from the nearby local community.

Additionally, BioRegional will often deliver public transport information, such as new timetables, directly to BedZED households and businesses. When the development first opened and residents started to move in, they were all given comprehensive local public transport information at monthly welcome evenings. They were also informed of the benefits of BedZED's on-site facilities that enable businesses and residents to meet more of their everyday needs without getting in a car.  Finally, the mix of homes and workspaces that the development offers allow many residents to work at home and cut down on commuting.

Now the BedZED Car Club is putting EVERYONE in the drivers seat


BedZED encourages residents to buy only as much food as they can eat and suggests they buy local, seasonal and organic/non-intensive produce.

Local organic box schemes provide food that supports the local farming industry.  The welcome packets that new residents receive upon arrival include details of local farmers markets and, often, residents will organize a series of on-site local produce markets themselves. Also, specially tailored internet shopping as well as 'Growing your own food' training and equipment are offered to motivate sustainable living.

A community composting scheme turns kitchen and garden organic waste into nutrient-rich compost for use in gardens and allotments. The scheme creates a closed loop system where organic waste is recycled into fruit, vegetables and flowers.

Green lifestyle officers

Without a community of residents living green lifestyles, BedZED is nothing but a strategically placed pile of recycled bricks and mortar. Lifestyle officers were employed when residents first moved into the development to explain the features of the site to everyone and to promote general green living. Having an advisory rather than a coercive role, they helped residents to gear their own lifestyles to carbon neutrality, monetary savings and increased health. They are no longer available but BioRegional employees are now based at BedZed and can offer both residents and businesses advice.

Last updated Tuesday, December 16, 2014