Atkins, a British multinational company focusing on architecture design, engineering, urban planning, design, design consulting services, and project management has always based its design philosophy and ideology catering towards sustainability through design optimization and engineering techniques. Ever since William Atkins and his partners founded the company in 1938, Atkins has had a futuristic view on design, and as the London headquartered firm grew to offices around the world so has this philosophy. One of Atkin’s latest designs – A new secondary school with net zero operational carbon emissions in West Sussex, United Kingdom is a perfect example of their ideology of futuristic sustainable design.

“This is a really positive step forward for the proposed school, which has been designed to promote well-being and educational attainment for all learners who use the building and create a project with a low environmental impact.” – Richard Christmas, lead designer at Atkins New Secondary School with Net Zero Operational Carbon Emissions in West Sussex, UK.

The West Sussex Country Council in the United Kingdom approved Atkins’s planning permission for a new, zero-carbon secondary school.  This net-zero operational carbon emissions – New Secondary School will be constructed at Brookleigh, a new development in Homes England near Burgess Hill.

The New Secondary school near Burgess Hill is for about 900 local children by offering them state-of-the-art educational facilities while also keeping in mind the environment in the local microenvironment and also a larger broader scape of the influence and impact of architecture sustainability on a global platform. Atkins designed the New Secondary school with the idea of completely eliminating the use of fossil fuels or other energy resources that leave a greater carbon footprint and are directly responsible for heavy carbon emissions. Instead, Atkins New Secondary school generates on-site – their own renewable energy to sustain the building. 

New Secondary School with Net Zero Operational Carbon Emissions in West Sussex revealed by Atkins - Sheet1
New School by Atkins_©Darc Studio

The highest standard of energy efficiency -The Passivhaus certification was a benchmark for Atkins to achieve in the school. With this benchmark that Atkins worked around, the architects claim that the school will have net zero operational carbon emissions. The New Secondary school generates 296,000 kWh of energy a year, but Atkins’s approach to net zero carbon emissions and sustainability was achieved solely by the thousand solar photovoltaic panels. Atkins elevated, enhanced, and optimized these solar panels for use by strategic positioning to provide maximum optimal sunlight to these thousand solar photovoltaic panels. 

The LED lighting is controlled by movement and daylight detection to avoid wastage and neglect of energy if it is net zero carbon emissions. Atkins has also kept in mind the unpredictability of the local weather in the United Kingdom from sunlight to harsh rains within hours. The New Secondary school will be kept at optimal thermal comfort with natural fresh air ventilation, despite the changing external weather conditions.

New Secondary School with Net Zero Operational Carbon Emissions in West Sussex revealed by Atkins - Sheet2
New School by Atkins_©Darc Studio

While the larger idea is for net zero operational carbon emissions, Atkins aims to create a network or micro-ecosystem, with the New Secondary School as a focal point. This ecosystem is aimed to connect the new homes in the Brookleigh development to the school, with a network of walking paths and cycling routes. This network also interconnects the school and new homes with the local parks and shops, this combined network allows the children from the New Secondary school, and their families to reach the educational institution without the use of cars or any form of the vehicular system reducing the carbon emissions further. 

Atkins has aimed to achieve a lifestyle – an inclusive mainstream educational establishment that integrates specialized facilities and Special Support Center catered to enable children with disabilities and special needs, integrated with a low-carbon lifestyle. The new secondary school with zero net operational carbon emissions will be named The Bedelands Academy which will run from primary to secondary in an ‘all through’ system of schools. £57.060m of capital funding has been approved by the West Sussex County Council. This makes the Bedelands Academy by Atkins the largest capital project the council has ever delivered. The Bedelands Academy, a new secondary school with a net zero operational carbon emissions is set to open around September 2025 for the new students. 

New Secondary School with Net Zero Operational Carbon Emissions in West Sussex revealed by Atkins - Sheet3
New School by Atkins_©Darc Studio


The need for sustainability cannot be treated as an afterthought or as an intervention in isolation. Atkins is seeing through the suitability root up from preconstruction and concept design. Atkins’s focus isn’t on treating the space in isolation but on creating the school into an urban fabric and weaving a sustainable lifestyle around it. The vision for sustainability is to the future and how simple steps and small design features with a larger context can be used to make a larger impact in society but with a low carbon footprint. Atkin’s primary philosophy of a futuristic holistic design approach was valid in the past and hasn’t been more relevant than it is today and will continue to be revolutionary moving to the future.


ArchDaily (2022). Atkins Reveals New Secondary School with Net Zero Operational Carbon Emissions in West Sussex, UK. [online]. Available at:,facilities%20to%20900%20local%20children.   [Accessed 6 January 2023 ].

Atkins (2022). Atkins Homepage. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 6 January 2023 ].


Jaya is a whimsical old soul. She’s passionate about architecture journalism - an amalgamation of the two things she loves most - designing and writing. She loves all forms of art, literature and mythologies from any corner of the world and from any period in time- the older the better.