Sir Charles Kao UTC



Sir Charles Kao University Technical College (UTC) combines academic and technical learning in science, engineering and computing. BAM designed and built the three storey timber framed UTC with large, open plan learning areas to encourage exchange of knowledge and ideas, as well Computer Aided Design (CAD) studios, science laboratories, 3D printing rooms and an intelligent studio flat to test new technology.

Sustainable Design

BAM used BIM (Building Information Modelling) from the outset of the design. A design model allowed the prefabricated building envelope to be manufactured accurately, with its components fully coordinated with the architectural and building services elements of the building. This level of accuracy was achieved at RIBA stage 3. We used BIM to help with early clash detection, allowing us to create an efficient services and foundation design, and also allowed us to add detail to the prefabricated wall components, such as the inclusion of pre-formed services openings. The new building will provide science, engineering and computing facilities and it was decided that many of the building’s services would be left exposed allowing students to see, and learn from, the ‘inner-workings’ of the building. Leaving services exposed also helped to avoid waste, making efficient use of resources while also reducing costs.

The use of BIM helped to deliver a resource
efficient design and construction process

Tackling Climate Change

The UTC has 90m² of roof-mounted solar Photo Voltaic (PV) panels, providing around 12,000kWh of zero carbon, renewable energy each year. Together with natural ventilation, heat recovery, and high efficiency plant and lighting, this has helped the building to achieve an EPC rating of A and a 34% improvement over building regulation requirements.

The construction of the UTC was inherently low carbon to build. The sustainably sourced timber used to construct the frame of the school absorbed around 260 tonnes of CO2 while growing. The building envelope, including the roof, was erected in just 12 weeks, reducing time onsite and therefore overall construction phase energy requirements (minimising emissions to just 35 tonnes of CO2

Prefabricated modules were manufactured by insulshell (part of the SIG Group), their patented interlocking panel joint system between the prefabricated modules optimises airtightness, and the building achieved an air-tightness result of 1.74 m³/hr/m², far below the building regulation requirement of 5 m³/hr/m² and better than the design target of 2.5 m³/hr/m².

Excellent air tightness result of 1.74m3/hr/m2 minimised air leakage

Resource Efficiency

Throughout the design and construction, resource efficiency was a priority and the team managed to minimise waste production to just 73m³ of construction waste produced per £1million project value, far below the project target of 130m³/£1million. The project also diverted 91% of waste from landfill.

The use of prefabricated components, which reduced on-site material handling and cutting, was key to minimising waste. The entire building envelope and structure were prefabricated off-site, the timber walls, floors and ceiling modules from Insulshell were delivered to site fully insulated and ready for assembly. Acoustic ceiling panels were prefabricated and the roof was delivered to site with the single ply weather proof membrane ready installed, with only the membrane joints needing to be sealed on-site. This allowed the building to be water tight much quicker compared to other forms of construction. The exterior metal rainscreen cladding was delivered with window and door holes pre-cut, avoiding wastage from on-site cutting.

Throughout the build, resources were used as efficiently as possible. Site levels were designed to reduce the amount of imported fill required, the design of the attenuation tanks was altered to eliminate the need to break existing tarmac and the prefabricated Insulshell modules were delivered to site with little or no packaging. The lighting components were delivered in reusable packaging that was immediately returned to the supplier. 


Watch to see the installation of the prefabricated modules 

Sourcing Responsibly

All timber used on the project was sourced from legal and sustainable sources, with 89% being supplied directly from FSC or PEFC chain of custody certified sources.

100% of timber from verified legal and sustainable sources


The BAM site team engaged with the local Harlow College, to give students a taste of the construction industry and multiple site visits gave students a chance to see the build progress. Working on a six week rotation, apprentices were able to gain experience in many different trades, and when one apprentice excelled on his electrical placement he was kept on to allow him to gain more experience.

The team donated 2m³ of excess timber to Harlow College for use in their carpentry department.

The project team’s efforts won them our Regional Environmental Performance Award, and they donated the cash prize to Harlow UTC. Students worked in partnership with Harlow College to design and build bird and bat boxes. Kits will be made available to local schools and the Council to encourage environmental activities and improve biodiversity in Harlow.

An electrical apprentice excelled on site

Health and Wellbeing

The site manager was keen to reuse materials in a way that would enhance the site compound. Used pallets were made into a bench, old tubs and wellies were reused as plant pots and bird feeders were put up to attract wildlife to the site. Timber offcuts were re-used to build raised beds, including a garden with blueberries, tomatoes and herbs, which were provided to operatives to promote healthy eating.

The team held a coffee morning for Macmillan Cancer Support and raised £255, a great achievement for a small team.

BAM attended a careers event organised by Harlow College and offered a local graduate work experience which led to a full time role as document controller on site.

A site herb garden promoted healthy eating


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