BedZED

BedZED in Sutton was the UK’s first large-scale, mixed-use sustainable community. Through the experience of developing BedZED, the "One Planet Living" sustainability framework was developed for anyone to access and use.

220
Est. number of people
who benefit directly

Our story

Bioregional is an environmental consultancy, charity, and social enterprise that works with communities around the world to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. We provide a range of sustainability consultancy services that make it easier for people to live sustainable lives, this includes helping major developers to create pioneering eco-communities.

BedZED was the UK’s first large-scale, mixed-use sustainable community. The project was initiated by Bioregional and developed by Peabody Trust in partnership with Bioregional and ZEDfactory architects. The development is made up of 100 homes, office space, a college, and community facilities. It is also home to Bioregional's headquarters.

The idea for BedZED grew out of Bioregional’s search for new office space back in 1997. Sutton Council was selling a plot of brownfield land for housing development, and we thought, ‘Why don't we build not only an office but a community as well?’ We worked closely with green architect Bill Dunster, engineers Arup, and the local housing association Peabody Trust as project partners. BedZED – the UK's first eco-community – was completed in 2002.

BedZED was designed to be free of fossil-fuel consumption once it was built, radically reducing its residents’ emissions of climate-changing carbon dioxide gas and giving them energy security. BedZED is made up of mixed-size and mixed-tenure properties, from studio flats to four-bedroom townhouses. The development brings together a huge number of sustainable technologies and community initiatives to promote climate-conscious and sustainable living.

Major energy savings are provided by high levels of insulation and airtight design while power-generating solar arrays are integrated into buildings. Water waste is minimised through water-saving appliances, and abundant private and shared outdoor spaces and green roofs provide space for local wildlife to thrive. Colourful wind cowls are perhaps the most eye-catching part of the BedZED design and act as a ventilation system – bringing in fresh exterior air and expelling stale air without wasting heat. BedZED was also the site of the UK's first car club and includes shared, traffic-free spaces that promote a sense of community.

Through the experience of developing BedZED, we created the One Planet Living ® framework – a sustainability framework that provides a vision of the world where we can live within the Earth’s finite resources. Anyone can access and use the One Planet Living ® framework and it has helped organisations and communities around the world to shape their sustainability ambitions.

BedZED has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards:
• Shortlisted for the Sterling Prize 2001
• London Lifestyle Award - Evening Standard New Homes Award 2001
• Special Awards: Sustainability - RIBA London Awards 2003
• Best Project & Sustainability Award - Housing Design Awards 2003
• Ashden Award 2003

Our advice

Use our One Planet Living ® Framework – The framework is free for anyone to use under licence and includes goals and guidance for lots of different types and scales of project. Developers can also make their project a One Planet Living ® development by publishing an action plan that outlines how they will reach the goals outlined in the framework. There is lots of detailed information available around this on our website: https://www.bioregional.com/one-planet-living

Involve all of the stakeholders in the design process – It’s important to get everyone involved at a community level and understand their needs and goals. It really needs to be a very consultative and bottom-up process.

Consider community – The strength of the community at BedZED is one of its greatest success stories. The design of communal, pedestrianised spaces means residents are much more likely to know their neighbours compared to surrounding streets. It has demonstrated that sustainability can help people to live healthier and happier lives without making sacrifices.

Ask us for advice – Bioregional provides consultancy and advisory services whether you need help drafting your action plans or technical support. If you are planning a new development, you can reach out for expertise and insights.

Our metrics

  • Energy savings
  • Renewable energy generation
  • Water waste savings
  • Community engagement
  • Ongoing development performance
  • Travel emissions
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Aerial view of BedZED
BedZED car club
Children playing at BedZED