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Annual review 2022

With sustainability at its core, the GenZero project is focused on a net-zero carbon design that is resilient to climate change

Next generation schools

We developed a standardised design for schools which embraces net-zero while creating great places for students and teachers.


GenZero Schools


BRE and Department for Education, UK


UK nationwide


Project management, quantity surveying, carbon assessment, fire services, BREEAM assessment


What the users said

Our approach to GenZero was informed by our analysis of post-occupancy evaluations from 54 recently completed or refurbished schools. We surveyed the schools based on site visits and questionnaires with local staff, who provided feedback on the buildings’ quality, functionality and effectiveness. These findings were then presented to the DfE. That data informed the design of the many different spaces required to create the new exemplar school: classrooms, laboratories and workshops, corridors and stairways, lavatories and utility rooms, offices, staff facilities and medical rooms, theatres, sports halls and changing facilities, kitchens and canteens – and outdoor spaces too.

We looked at the needs of different schools – from primary up to sixth form, and from small, single-form entry up to large multi-form. We also looked at schools for those with special educational needs (SEN).


A modular approach

We developed a platform solution that would enable every school to be built using a kit of standardised components, with the requirements of each school met by combining those components differently. Platforms are common in other industries but rare in construction: automotive manufacturers use many of the same components to build a variety of vehicles. That approach has been adopted here. While the DfE defines the spaces a school requires, our platform – a standardised kit of parts – gives flexibility to create bespoke solutions.

The platform solution we developed means each school is built from a kit of components, using standardised, replicable layouts