18th June 2007 | Andover, Hampshire, UK
I had taken a strong interest in the ZED concept in 2001 whilst working at the London Borough of Southwark. ZED is a ‘zero energy development’ designed to be carbon neutral and highly energy efficient.
I met the man who created the ZEDfactory – Bill Dunster – in 2001 and toured the first ZED housing development – BedZED – a number of times during its construction. BedZED, or the Beddington Zero Energy Development, was in the London Borough of Sutton and for the time was an impressive achievement, especially considering it was built for a housing association – the Peabody Trust.
Bill very kindly organised an inspirational talk for me at a south London venue attended by my colleagues from Southwark and from other London boroughs. This was followed up with a guided tour of BedZED and Southwark planners went on to discuss various ideas with Bill for potential developments in the borough, including the idea of a ‘flower tower’. I will leave what that concept might be to your imagination!
By 2007 I had moved back to Devon and was working at Plymouth City Council, when I took the opportunity to visit the Hockney Green housing development in Andover. This was a small development for Testway Housing consisting of 12 flats and 5 terraced houses. Construction was still underway but well advanced and at least one home was pretty much finished – the end-terrace house pictured here.
ZED housing developments are not only very energy efficient but also benefit from maximising natural daylight and ventilation, providing a home that feels light, airy and clean. I for one would be quite happy to be a housing association tenant in one of these terraced houses.
I would like to think there are far more zero-energy, zero-carbon and zero-waste buildings under construction, but I fear there are far too few, and this is not helped by the policies of the present UK government. The approach to zero energy development shown here is just one of many that are wildly different in style, with variations that are considerably greater than the ticky-tack cubes dumped upon our countryside by volume house builders.
I suspect that if potential homeowners were told about net-zero houses with a heating bill of about £50 a year and a healthy clean-air interior many would be interested. However our shockingly poor housing developers offer no such thing. They offer a product that they seem to have convinced even themselves ‘are what people want’, when actually they are offering a poor quality product built of the cheapest possible materials at the lowest possible price in order to maximise profits. When it comes to buying a new house, as Paul Weller once said, the people want what the people get.