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20101221_Carbon neutral homes

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The United Kingdom aims to make all new homes carbon neutral after 2016. In the first of a new series of reports from the UK, we visit the BedZED community in London. Solar cells, a biofuel generator, and natural lighting are just some of the eco-friendly features. Although the homes are 15 percent more expensive than average, residents save 240 British pounds a year on their energy bill.

( Landmark wind cowls at BedZED )

" Wind cowls! "

Colorful wind cowls turning in the breeze are a landmark at London's Beddington Zero Energy Development community - or BedZED for short. Using the force of the wind and the indoor and outdoor temperature difference, fresh air is sucked inside through the wind cowls to keep circulation going; and by using a heat exchange system, the expelled hot air warms the incoming cold air, so that the temperature inside does not drop.

( Natural lighting inside )

NS: It's warm! Yes, it's warm. So, this provides daylight at the back of the building. The lights are natural. Yes, absolutely. So you don't have to switch on electric light bulbs. The bedroom is downstairs...

Asif Din was one of the first architects involved in the BedZED project. Following him inside, from the bedrooms to the living room there is no need to turn on the lights because the south-facing windows let in the sun.

( Solar cells in windows )

And there is no sign of a central heating system, because solar panels on the rooftop and windows store electricity, while letting sunlight through to warm the interior.

BedZED architect, Asif Din:" In the UK, heating load is a majority of the energy that's actually used within the home. One of the main driving points of the residential units on this site is that all of them had to face south. This allowed maximum passive solar gain into the buildings, and reduced the heating load in the buildings."

( Heat and power from biofuel )

In the community all utility needs are supplied by a self-sufficient biofuel generator, which is like a mini power plant. (CG) Waste wood chips, collected from the park, are burned in the boiler to make enough electricity, converted from the heat, to supply the entire community, while the excess heat produced by the furnace is captured for the community's hot water needs.

( Eco-friendly transportation )

Right next to the residential area is an office block.

" Hello, is Asif here? "

This is ZedFactory, a company owned by BedZED designer Bill Dunster, who has an office, a home, and even a street named after him here. The architect wanted to create a carbon-neutral community that was livable, and, most importantly, had convenient but eco-friendly transportation - which is why the office buildings are right by the apartments, so residents can walk to work. But what if you want to travel outside the community?

BedZED architect, Asif Din:" The site is very much linked to London, it has two bus routes, it has a train station which is five minutes away, and also a tram station which is ten minutes away, so it's well served, and people can come in and out of site very very easily."

( Shared electric cars )

" And put in the number. So you can book it now if you want. So edit the booking. Today is the 18th, and it's 12 o'clock, and I want to book it for two hours, so until 2:15."

Employee Anny takes frequent business trips. But, in the community, everyone shares the same electric cars, which Anny says are eco-friendly and easy to use.

" Sorry, I'm not normally this rude, I'm just running because I'm late."

There are allocated parking spaces for the electric cars, which can be driven off with the swipe of a card.

BedZED resident, Anny:" It's an easy way to share cars with lots of other people that live in the area, without having to buy your own car, and pay for insurance, and look after it, and maintain it, because City Car Club do that all for you, so it's really easy to just jump in the car, and easily drive away."

( Benefits of BedZED )

Compared to most British housing, these units are 15 percent more expensive. But BedZED residents save an average of 240BPS a year on their energy bill; and emissions are only 4 percent of other communities. From the buildings to the way of life, since it was founded in 2002, in the last eight years, BedZED has clearly shown that a zero carbon lifestyle is not just a pipe dream.

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