Pooran Desai

BioRegional Development Group
Year founded: 
United Kingdom

BioRegional designs and provides practical examples of sustainable living and business, working throughout the world to implement its One Planet Living sustainability framework.

Focus: Energy, Environment, Technology
Geographic Area of Impact: European Union, South Africa, China, Australia, North America, Mexico, Brazil
Model: Social Business
Annual Budget: US $3,571,030 (2012)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 60%
Recognition: Regional Social Entrepreneurs of the Year, Europe, 2011

BioRegional was created in response to two environmental concerns of its founders: widespread unsustainable use of the world’s resources, and the unfair distribution of resources between the developed and developing world. While policy discussions about sustainability are common, policymakers often lack practical examples that demonstrate the ideals discussed. BioRegional’s response has been to initiate practical sustainability solutions and deliver them by establishing new enterprises, projects and partnerships around the world. This has been accomplished through the concepts of bioregionalism (using local and recycled resources to meet everyday needs) and One Planet Living (improving quality of life by a fair distribution of the earth’s resources). Further, they assist and encourage others to achieve sustainability through co-invention, design, advisory services, education and information policy.

Innovation and Activities
Along with their partners, BioRegional develops real life solutions, including sustainable low carbon communities, businesses that supply sustainable products and services, and initiatives like sustainability strategies for municipalities. These designs can be replicated around the world, demonstrated by BioRegional’s portfolio of enterprises that illustrate the potential of sustainable design and appropriate resource allocation. BioRegional’s most recognized project is the BedZED eco-village in London. This community of 100 homes (for 220 people) encompasses facilities powered by renewable energy, and six businesses that include green property development, recycling, clean tech for the paper industry and local charcoal supplies sold to national retailers.

BioRegional’s One Planet Living framework is based on 10 guiding principles used in all of its projects: Zero Carbon, Zero Waste, Sustainable Transport, Sustainable Materials, Local and Sustainable Food, Sustainable Water, Land Use and Wildlife, Culture and Heritage, Equity and Local Economy, and Health and Happiness.

BioRegional’s One Planet Communities programme is creating a network of the earth’s greenest neighbourhoods, where it is easy, attractive and affordable to live a healthy, happy lifestyle while sharing a fair amount of the planet’s resources. Working with developers around the world, the programme currently has projects in the USA, United Kingdom and Portugal, with others planned in South Africa, China, Australia and Canada. The programme has been applied to sustainability strategies in over US$ 30 billion of planned development. In addition to collaborating with its partners to design and construct these communities, BioRegional is also providing advisory and training services in sustainable design and practice to various actors in other industry sectors, including manufacturing, retail, commerce and government.

The Entrepreneurs
Sue Riddlestone trained as a nurse before establishing BioRegional with Pooran Desai in 1992. Since then she has developed innovative approaches to sustainable paper production and use, and established two other companies. She is a member of the Mayor’s London Sustainable Development Commission, and used the One Planet Principles to develop the sustainability strategy for London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics.

Pooran Desai, married to Sue Riddlestone, studied at Oxford and Cambridge Universities prior to working in the sustainable forestry industry. His work there led to the development of the BioRegional Charcoal Company, one of the first sustainability companies founded by the couple. In 1997 they initiated the BedZED eco-village project, where they currently reside.