Sustainable Housing from Bioregional

DateFeb 21, 2019
AuthorChloe Mitchell

Growing up in Hackbridge I was used to the “Teletubby” houses as we would call them. A brand-new set of apartments and houses, with bright multi-coloured rotating chimneys on the roof, a lot like the antennas on the Teletubbies! Although their official name is BedZED, Teletubby houses sound much nicer.

The BedZED’s were a pioneer eco village, offering an essential advance in environmental technology for our current climate situation. With the newest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stating that we have just 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C, before flood, droughts, extreme heat and poverty significantly increases at a rise of 2°C (Watts, 2018) it is vital that we reduce our carbon emissions from both domestic and industrial spheres, in fact from every sector. Hence, Bioregional, the company responsible for these unusual homes, are paving the way for new sustainable housing.


Sustainable housing from Bioregional blog imageFigure 1: Image of the BedZED houses (Mitchell, 2018)


BedZED was constructed in 2002 as a pioneer eco-village initiated by Bioregional, developed by The Peabody Trust in partnership with Bioregional and designed with architects, ZEDFactory and Arup engineers. It became the UK’s first large scale sustainable community. The eco-village provides 100 homes, office space to rent, a college, and space for communal events. Additionally, you can find the headquarters of Bioregional in the village.

Sustainable features include solar heating, insulation to prevent heat loss, a communal boiler and photovoltaic panels which supply electricity to the development. Any excess power is then transferred to the local grid to be used by others. Homes are fitted with dual flush toilets, aerated flow taps and showers and eco-friendly washing machines, all to reduce water consumption. It also turns out that the Teletubby antennas are actually wind cowls, used to ventilate the apartments.

Nowadays BedZED homes sell for 5-10% more than conventional homes the same size in the local area. 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.

From the success of the BedZEDs, Bioregional created the ten “One Planet Living” principles, which relate to health, happiness, food, water, community, travel, waste, and more. These principles now form the base of every project undertaken (Bioregional, b, 2018). Further information on each principle can be found at

Ecology icons - Sustainable housing blogFigure 2: One Planet Living allows organisations to create sustainability action plans.

Using these One Planet Living principles, the UK’s first One Planet Community was created in Brighton, accordingly named “One Brighton”. Consisting of 172 apartments and offices (split between two blocks), space for community events, and a café, close to Brighton station. Apartments are a mixture of shared ownership, social housing, and low-cost studios to help young people get onto the property ladder.

Like the BedZED development, One Brighton has eco-friendly apartments heated by woodfuel pellets, triple glazed buildings for insulation, and electricity from a green energy service provider. This reduced carbon emissions by 67% in comparison to standard UK houses, inspiring Bioregional to create a reduction target of 89% by 2020. Interestingly, the two apartment blocks had the first designed-in rooftop mini-allotments in The UK to encourage residents to grow their own food, and connect with nature (Bioregional, c, 2018).


Green Skyscraper image - Sustainable housing blog
Figure 3: What buildings of the future could look like following One Planet Living principles.

These are just examples of two successful projects in the UK, however Bioregional work globally to raise awareness of their One Planet Living framework. Below is a list of achievements by Bioregional’s partners using the One Planet Living framework, from 2017 to 2018 (Bioregional, d, 2018):

  • Reduced plastic bottle waste by 97% in Singita, Southern Africa. Plastic bottles have been replaced with reusable bottles, and filtered water is now available
  • More than a 60% saving in lifecycle carbon emissions at the Gen Y housing project in White Gum Valley, Australia
  • Increased the number of trees in Freemantle, Australia by 30%
  • Housing project “Zibi” in Ottowa, Canada is set to meet its target of utilising only zero carbon energy by 2020

Bioregional have a full calendar of future events and projects, including working with Lewisham council in South London to redevelop Catford town centre. The project aims to improve the quality of life for residents, supply over 1,000 new sustainable homes, and improve public spaces such as parks and streets (Bioregional, d, 2018).

As you can see, Bioregional are well on their way to changing the way we develop new communities and construct sustainable housing developments. An essential step forward in combating our battle with climate change. Their One Planet Living principles can be used in every part of a development project, and we can even use them ourselves as individuals to live healthy lives “within the natural limits of the planet” (Bioregional, b, 2018).

A Groundsure Planning report can help identify planned developments in your area.


Bioregional, a. (2018). BedZED, Accessed 24th September 2018.
Bioregional, b. (2018). One Planet Living, Accessed 25th September 2018.
Bioregional, c. (2018). One Brighton, Accessed 26th September 2018.
Bioregional, d. (2018). Impact Review 2017-2018, Accessed 27th September 2018.
Mitchell, C. (2018). Photo of BedZED.
Watts, J. (2018). We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN, Accessed 23/10/2018.
Zedfactory. (2018). BedZED, Accessed 24th September 2018.