Welcome to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)'s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP)'s blog. The DECC YAP is a group of young people aged between 15 and 25 from all over the UK, with a wide-range of backgrounds, from academia to activism.

Our aim is to inform everyone and anyone about DECC's activities and likewise to help DECC understand and take into account the concerns of young people. We are a medium of consultancy and conversation. Much of our work looks at finding a 'Pathway to 2050', reviewing how energy with be supplied and used in the next four decades, so follow us and join us on the journey!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Visit to BedZED

Hi All
My name is Unkha and I am on the Oxfam Youth Board. Along with several others from the Panel (Rose, John and Kirsty) visited the eco-community in Sutton called BedZED, on 25 August 2010

Our visit to BedZED began with an introductory session with the Sustainability Consultant (Sam Smith) where he explained several key things about the community including the fact that it was built to create a community in which ordinary people could enjoy a high quality of life, while living within their fair share of the Earth’s resources. He went on to explain the project's One Planet Living’ principle which is the idea that if all the world lived like the average western European does we’d need three planets to support us. The project tries to tackle this issue by greatly reducing the consumption levels and energy use within the community for example an 81% reduction in energy use for heating by using ecologically friendly alternatives such as natural sunlight (by having the homes facing south and having a sun space), insulation (the walls of the homes are nearly 30cm thick) and thermal mass. There’s a 64% reduction in car mileage through the introduction of a comprehensive transport plan (good public transport links, a car sharing scheme, encouraging the use of electric cars with free charging and ample provisions for cyclists and pedestrians). The project also recycles 60% of its waste!
We were then directed to a big graph on the wall that displayed the ecological footprint of nations, by country, in 2005. The United Arab Emirates had the highest at close to 9.5 hectares per person, Malawi the lowest at less than 0.5 and the UK came 15th with just over 5. However, by 2006 the UK crept up seven places.
Next up was the show home. The homes are designed in a way that is efficient; from having the living space upstairs and bedrooms down stairs to having a sun space. The surprising thing about the home is that it looks like a ‘normal’ home; the appearance is very typical of contemporary properties. It goes to show just how easy it is to make the transition to eco friendly homes. The only criticism of the home would be the colour scheme; the earth tones used made the house darker.

On the rooftop we were able to see the wind cowls up close (a method for ventilating the homes), we learnt about the green roofs (a measure to soak up rain water and provide migrating birds a comfortable place to rest), see the solar panels on the windows and take in the amazing scenery. Sam then took us to the field and showed us the chickens, the metal tubs (used by some residents to grow food) and the projects’ combined heat and power plant (which had to be shut down due to council objections). We finished our visit with a cup of tea and biscuits, in the Community Centre.

All in all we were impressed by the project; it provides another angle in the emissions reduction debate, that of housing.
Although the prospects of replicating the project across the UK are questionable, BedZed demonstrates the technical possibility and economic feasibility of building without degrading the environment, and even improving and enhancing it in the process. There is much that can be learnt and taken from BedZED and as a bonus, the architect Bill Dunster has created a Code 6 eco-home which uses similar ideas, and is easier to attain and create.
Much Love

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article in the Guardian about the benefits of green roofs