BedZed: Trouble in Paradise

There are a number of ways to approach sustainable, low energy housing; "The Don't Really Change Anything but throw Solar Panels on the Roof" approach that Jeff discussed recently and that this TreeHugger rudely criticized; and the "dense, urban eco-community model with shared cars and rooftop gardens and heat from biomass and, um, solar panels on the roof" like BedZed that this TreeHugger goes gaga over. Except that at BedZed things are not running so smoothly. The Biomass fuelled zero-carbon heat system packed in last year and BedZed is back on the national grid. The "Living Machine" reed bed sewage filter system is out of operation. The developer, Bioregional, is fighting with the architect, Bill Dunster. Says one resident: "We're in the worst of all situations, buying all our gas, getting electricity from the national grid, and we're not even on a green tariff." Nonetheless, even with conventional power sources, the small, well-insulated units barely need heat, and the project still releases 40% less carbon and have lower operating costs than conventional buildings, the residents love it and values of the units are 15% above surrounding conventional projects. Perhaps they over-reached, but it is still a model for development. Says Bill Dunster: "In a year's time, the original ambition when we started this project will be on offer to residents," he insists. "All the people who have been detracting and knocking it for all these years are going to look very silly." ::The Guardian

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