The future is panels: Net Zero Panels launches to provide sustainable solutions to the education sector

The future is panels: Net Zero Panels launches to provide sustainable solutions to the education sector

Net Zero Panels – launching as part of the Premier Modular Group – is driven to minimise construction’s embodied carbon through panelised solutions.

Joining the Premier Group alongside Net Zero Buildings (NZB) – which focuses on delivering buildings that are net zero in operation – Net Zero Panels enables a holistic approach to sustainability, helping clients to ensure compliance, reduce embodied carbon.

Net Zero Panels will support several sectors – particularly education – as it continues to help clients gain traction towards optimal use of offsite components via a ‘kit-of-parts’.

What is panelised construction?

Panelised construction can be either structural – a whole building comprising of internal and external load-bearing walls, floor cassettes and a number of structural roof options – or a wrap, where external walls and a roof ‘wrap’ around a concrete or steel-framed building.

To meet growing demand for panelised solutions, Premier Modular Group, the market leader in offsite construction – for capacity and capability – has launched a new division: Net Zero Panels (NZP).

“NZP is designed to strike a balance between compliance and carbon reduction,” explains Dan Allison, director, NZP. “Compliance is at the heart of the approach, and we ensure extensive acoustic and structural fire testing is built into every system – along with carbon assessments – so we’re best placed to advise on the best materials for your project and their embodied carbon impact.

“Using a Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) approach, with NZP, buildings can be configured from a pre-defined kit-of-parts – offering the simplicity of structured panels with all the advantages of flat-packed, volumetric building.”

Designing for purpose

“NZP is an integrator and distributor, which innovated X-Guard panels,” says David Harris, managing director, Premier Modular Group.

“X-Guard panels are made of either timber or light-gauge steel structural elements, but we also use other materials in our kit of parts, such as glulam, hot rolled steel, modified gypsum fibreboard and precast concrete. It’s a question of what’s fit for purpose for your individual building, and it can be provided in one package.

“The business has taken off so well that it’s worthy of its own division as an integral part of our group. NZP has all the agility of a start-up with all the financial stability, capacity and ESG credentials you’d expect from a long-established company.”

The Department for Education and other public procurement frameworks help schools prioritise the use modern methods of construction for new buildings, which is increasing their prevalence. NZP is taking advantage of this and has already delivered the kit of parts for DfE’s first carbon pathfinder scheme at Treetops Free School in Grays in Essex.

Treetops Free School – the UK’s first net zero carbon pathfinder

The DfE commissioned the 3,293m2 extension to Treetops School as the government’s first zero carbon pathfinder project, which completed in August 2022. 

Zero carbon pathfinder projects follow a ten-point plan to achieve net zero carbon in operational energy and dramatically reduce embodied energy in their construction.

NZP delivered the structural solution for Treetops, which provides full-time education and therapeutic behavioural support for 3-16 year-old pupils with special educational needs (SEN).

Treetops’ building solution comprised of a hybrid, structural timber panel system with a highly insulated envelope. The NZP ‘kit-of-parts’ system included floors, external and internal walls, the primary frame for the Hall and the panelised roof solution to the entire building.

“This was all made possible by our design, engineering, production, manufacturing and installation capabilities, as well as the transparent ways we collaborate with the school, main contractor and our supply chain,” says Dan Allison.

“Treetops shows how green the schools of the future will be because of its net zero considerations, and it can be reconfigured as needs change.”

Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby, Warwickshire – less school more panels

A long-established school – Lawrence Sheriff in Rugby, Warwickshire – needed a new facility to expand teaching capacity. It required new science classrooms and a studio, as well as a modern dining room.

Completed in December 2021, the 346m2 extension needed to complement and integrate seamlessly with the heritage building and adhere to best practice in net zero construction.

In this project, the main contractor built a primary hot-rolled steel frame, and NZP wrapped the structure with its highly insulated timber panel system.

NZP provided a structural, closed-panel system with a factory-fitted drylined service zone and clad with cedar and airtight brick facades onsite.

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