British housing project aims to be ultimate in energy efficiency

Mar 12, 2002 01:00 AM

An ambitious British housing project aims to be the ultimate in energy efficiency. Electric vehicles, solar energy, and waste recycling are all part of an energy-efficient housing development being built on an old sewage works in south London. Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZED) comprises 78 homes, office space, a shop, cafe, healthy living centre, and childcare facility.
Developed by architect Bill Dunster, engineer Chris Twinn, and a group of companies and trusts, the system aims to provide "a coherent solution to urban sustainable living. It integrates environmental, social, and economic needs, and brings together a number of proven strategies to reduce energy, water, and car use." The ZED system does not rely on high-tech solutions, but maximises free solar energy.
It is called zero energy development because all power and heat requirements are met on site. All energy supply comes from renewable sources, and the buildings do not add CO2 to the atmosphere. The energy and heating requirements of ZED homes are 10 % those of normal homes, say the developers.

The houses are arranged in south-facing terraces (the opposite to the southern hemisphere) to maximise solar gain. Each terrace is backed by north-facing offices, where minimal solar gain reduces the tendency for them to become too hot and the need for high-energy air- conditioning. A combined heat and power unit uses tree-surgery waste, diverted from landfill, to heat the homes and offices.
The unit also generates enough electricity for the development, with connection to the national grid allowing excess to be sold and back up to be drawn for any additional peak-load demands. The homes and offices are all fitted with low-energy lighting and energy-efficient appliances.
The development is designed so that heat from the sun and warmth generated by the occupants and everyday activities such as cooking is usually enough to maintain it at a comfortable temperature. The construction reflects the local building style, in brickand weatherboards, with materials taken from local sustainable sources, and recycled materials used.

Green areas include green roofs, roof gardens, and conservatories, which also harvest solar energy. Dependence on treated mains water is reduced by using rainwater for toilet flushing. Rainwater is stored in tanks below each terrace, and the homes are fitted with water-efficient washing machines and toilets.
Sewage is treated on site, using a biological sewage treatment plant called a Living Machine. Treated water is used to top up the storage tanks for toilet flushing. The buildings have been designed to be allergy-free, with good ventilation, minimising the breeding areas for house mites. The floors are tiled or covered with linoleum.
Low-allergy construction materials, particularly avoiding formaldehyde, were specified. To reduce dependence on motor-vehicles, the development offers a car-sharing club, public-transport links, and bicycle storage. Photovoltaic panels on the buildings generate enough electricity to power 40 electric cars. The weekly delivery of groceries, ordered via the Internet, reduces the need for car-based shopping trips. A village square provides a focus for residents, with a sports pitch and clubhouse.

Source: The Press
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