Articles and Reviews




Bioregional Solutions For Living on One Planet

by Pooran Desai & Sue Riddlestone

Price 7 including postage, from BioRegional Development Group, BedZED Centre, 24 Helios Road, Wallington, Surrey SM6 7BZ


Probably like me you have read about BedZED in the professional press, and think of it only as designed by Bill Dunster for the Peabody Trust. In fact it was the idea of an organisation called BioRegional who then looked for a site and developer to implement it. The site is in the Borough of Sutton which is a leading local authority on green issues.

BioRegional's aims, which can be traced back to Schumacher's Small is Beautiful, are to bring local sustainability into the mainstream of housing/lifestyles, business, and industry. Its key principles are:-

using local renewable and waste resources to meet more of our everyday needs,

delivering sustainability through the market for products and services,

living within our planetary means and leaving some space for wildlife and wilderness.

Their book Bioregional Solutions explains the principles and gives examples, putting BedZED into this context. Indeed the Beddington Zero Energy Deveolpment is their biggest achievement so far, and a comparable scheme is being developed by Peabody for an inner city as opposed to suburban site in northwest London. So although it is a prototype development which has benefited from the enthusiasm and commitment which goes with that, it is also replicable - at least with the same team.

What is required now is for others to take up the challenge, but to do this we need more architects and services engineers with the relevant knowledge, and enlightened developers from the private and public, as well as charitable sectors. BioRegional's belief is that local authority planners, who have an overview of land use, transportation and regional development, are the key, and they are already working with planners in various local authorities to set planning briefs for sites which ask for developments with the same environmental performance as BedZED.

This may be overoptimistic as it still needs professionals with the appropriate knowledge to implement the concepts, and as was seen with Greenwich Millennium Village, with a related but different set of aims, what is promised cannot always be delivered. As with energy conservation it will need mandatory standards before more than a handful of developments meet what should be required standards. It will also take more than one CPD session for architects to catch up, but you can begin with the Construction Materials Report: Toolkit for Carbon Neutral Developments - Part 1, which describes the materials used, and how they were chosen, resourced and specified.

If you cannot visit the development, which includes a detailed exhibition and show flat (open 9-5 M-F), ten minutes walk from Mitcham Junction on Tramlink, which I tried out for the first time, then order the book.



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