Led by Mott MacDonald, GenZero is a ground-breaking Department for Education (DfE) project to revolutionise school construction by creating a blueprint for schools that are both people and planet focused and adaptable to changing needs and climate. Leading the project, we developed pioneering adaptable prototypes for Net Zero carbon schools applying Modern Methods of Construction principles to transform the employers requirements for new schools, delivering immediate direct benefits against SDG 4 (Quality Education), with further direct benefits against SDGs 3, 12, and 13.
Our longstanding partnership with the DfE contributed to the project’s success, as our team translated the client’s vision for sustainable schools into a clear project scope and actionable design through four delivery themes of sustainability, standardisation, technology, and design for operation. Our deep domain expertise in sustainability, embodied carbon and built environment delivery combined with our education sector experience enabled us to draw together insight from the wider design team and a range of stakeholders to respond to the pressing sustainability challenges facing the education estate with pragmatic, replicable school design solutions.
By prioritising sustainability and using modern construction techniques, we have created a blueprint for schools that are both environmentally friendly and adaptable to changing needs. The two designs of GenZero have achieved a very good performance in terms of embodied carbon in construction, well below the current best practice benchmarks as provided by the London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI).
The legacy of GenZero is not limited to the development of the prototype designs but extends to tangible construction projects such as the Northumberland FE and St. Mary’s pilot projects. These projects have been developed using the lessons learnt from the GenZero project, and the qualitative and measurable results achieved.
These outcomes have not only been acknowledged by the clients but have also had a wider impact on the industry. The development of the DfE Biophilic design brief is a testament to the impact of the GenZero project on the wider construction industry. The design and construction of the biophilic school in Derby is also a direct result of the incorporation of biophilic design principles in the GenZero designs.
GenZero is setting the agenda for future designs and specifications, establishing a framework to enable all DfE schools to become Net Zero carbon by 2050. The legacy of GenZero is not limited to the development of a prototype design but extends to tangible construction projects such as the Northumberland FE and St. Mary’s Biolphilic School pilot projects. Both these projects have been developed using the lessons learnt and toolkit of parts from the GenZero project.
Furthermore, the GenZero project has led to the development of GenZero2, which focuses on developing physical prototypes of the modular elements of the build and panelised systems for teaching spaces in keeping with the GenZero design. We continue to test and refine the prototypes and develop new solutions that promote sustainability, student wellbeing, and engagement.
View the Mott MacDonald profile in the MCA Members Directory.