Net Zero Carbon

Case Studies

Woodlands Day Nursery and Forest School

A building for the next generation, this net zero carbon nursery set at the edge of woodlands provides spaces for children to explore, play, and connect with nature.

The single-storey learning centre has been designed to be engaging at child height, with low windows, recessed seating, and external benches. It also contains spaces for trainee teachers and social workers, a forest school, and an outreach service.

Working alongside architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, we provided M&E Engineering and collaboratively developed the operational and embodied carbon strategies to create a net zero building.

The design of the project avoids the need for mechanical cooling, minimising energy consumption. The nursery’s large open doors allow as much airflow as possible in summer, but in winter a separate lobbied entrance minimises heat loss.

The external walkway acts as a solar shade in summer and when a lower temperature is required, for example at nap time, the buried earth ducts couple with the ground to provide chilled air. The shaded glazing and roof lights provide good daylight in the play areas, with darker cosy areas for sleeping.

The building is heated by air source heat pumps and underfloor heating throughout, with rooftop solar power providing local electricity generation. Any excess generation is fed back into the University’s network and used on campus.

Image © Daniel Hopkinson Info
Rooflights capture daylight and assist the natural ventilation strategy. The roof is covered in photovoltaics to generate electricity. The stage area in the landscape is also the air intake for the earth tubes that provide chilled air for nap time.

Dulwich College, Junior and Lower School

From the outset, Dulwich College have prioritised the sustainability aspect of the series of ongoing extensions and refurbishment works, and set the aspiration to be net zero carbon in both construction and operational energy.

Dulwich College is a highly regarded, academically selective independent day and boarding school, endeavouring to make pupils from all backgrounds feel equally valued. This project focussed on an overhaul of its Junior School for boys from Year 3 to Year 6, as well as the Lower School (Year 7 and Year 8).

Working alongside alma-nac, engineersHRW, B|D Landscape Architects and Quantem Consulting, we are providing Net Zero Carbon consultancy, M&E Engineering and Acoustics.

The project sits within the campus-wide masterplan, drawn up by John McAslan + Partners a decade ago for Dulwich College, which has occupied the site in south-east London since the 1860s. Revamping existing school buildings, the current library building will be replaced with a new ‘knowledge exchange’, providing a 225-person hall for the Junior School, an arts wing, a two-storey administration building and wellbeing centre for the Lower School, plus improved play spaces. The new buildings will be made from a palette of concrete, timber, and brick to complement the campus’s historic Charles Barry Jr red brick and stone blocks, and feature exemplar engineering solutions designed to the highest standards.

Catering to the brief seeking to implement practical and sustainable design strategies across the estate, we worked extensively with the college to complete an energy and carbon study which included detailed operational energy modelling and embodied carbon analysis, based on the Stage 2 design. We then modelled several design options (including improved fabric, heat pumps and CLT) to assess the relative carbon contributions, and worked with Quantem to determine the cost-per-tonne of CO2 reduction for the different options. This enabled the college to choose the most efficient and cost-effective carbon reduction measures.

As an outcome of our energy and carbon study, the project has been registered as a London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) net zero carbon pioneer project.

Image alma-nac/darcstudio Info

The Rylands Building

The mission of this ambitious project is to create a listed building with net zero carbon status.

A prominent 1929 Grade II-listed empty department store building in Manchester, until recently home to Debenhams, will be converted into an office-led mixed-use development. The proposal includes 70,000ft2 of retail and leisure space on the ground floor, including a retail arcade accessed from High Street, and 258,000ft2 of office space on the upper three floors. Plans also include a four-storey rooftop extension featuring a further 40,000ft2 of offices, and a winter garden on the sixth floor. Part of the building will be demolished to create an atrium, providing natural light across the second to seventh floors.

Working alongside Jeffrey Bell Architects, we are providing M&E Engineering, Net Zero Carbon services and Sustainability Consultancy for the scheme.

To reduce energy consumption significantly, a fabric first approach has been chosen, using existing fabric wherever possible. This also considers the heritage nature of the Rylands Building. We have carried out moisture modelling and fabric analysis to achieve an enhanced performance of the listed facades with internal insulation. The roof will be insulated, and the windows will be high performance Crittall windows to match the existing 1930's system.

The building will be future-proofed to access the national benefit of the decarbonising grid and to support the Manchester Zero-Carbon Action Plan. Improved glazing, internal lining of walls and an insulated roof will reduce energy demand. Electrical systems will be prioritized to make a natural gas connection redundant. Steel framing in the new extension will be standardised to allow dismantling, enabling future adaptation of space and a reuse at the end of life.


Image Jeffrey Bell Architects Info
The existing building is very compact in form, with an extremely low surface area to volume ratio. With the proposed improvements to insulation and airtightness, this means that heating demand can be reduced to exceptionally low levels.

Net Zero Carbon