BedZED was built on reclaimed land and there was an emphasis on integration with the existing local community. BedZED developer, the Peabody Trust, acknowledges that the techniques used in the “village” (around 80 homes and some commercial buildings) are not “particularly high tech”. The emphasis, rather, is on the design. All energy comes from renewable sources, including solar and a waste wood powered small scale CHP (combined heat and power) plant. This provides district heating (although the need for space heating is significantly reduced due to the design and fabric of the buildings, which are constructed from thermally massive materials which store heat during warm weather for release when temperatures drop – and are also heavily insulated). Low energy lighting, energy efficient appliances and smart meters are integral to the BedZED scheme, and waste water recycling is also in place. The community aims to produce enough electricity from photovoltaic panels to power 40 electric vehicles within ten years
The BedZED Development design meets very high environmental standards, with a strong emphasis on roof gardens, sunlight, solar energy, reduction of energy consumption, and waste water recycling. In terms of materials, BedZED is built from natural, recycled, or reclaimed materials. All the wood used is approved by the Forest Stewardship Council or comparable internationally recognized environmental organizations.
Using passive solar techniques, houses arranged in south facing terraces to maximize heat gain from the sun. Each terrace is backed by north facing offices, where minimal solar gain reduces the tendency to overheat and the need for energy-hungry air conditioning. A centralized heat and power plant (CHP) provides hot water, which is distributed around the site via a district heating system of super-insulated pipes. Should residents or workers require a heating boost, each home or office has a domestic hot water tank that doubles as a radiator. The CHP plant at BedZED is powered by off-cuts from tree surgery waste that would otherwise go to landfill.