During this time of the climate emergency, the progression of the zero-carbon city agenda is being hindered by current building performance practices. Material choices, construction processes, and operational usage of current building typologies does not satisfy future net-zero carbon goals. The development of lower energy hybrid typologies will be a huge step toward Manchester’s aim of a net-zero city.

Future Zero-Carbon cities can be interrogated through an understanding of building performance. To progress this agenda, we have developed a computational design process to create urban environments and to analyse the embodied carbon and operational energy use of different building typologies in addition to the user satisfaction to ensure future carbon cities do not diverge from liveable ones. Testing different urban design approaches is important but a mix of standard typologies is not sufficient to meet Manchester’s Net-Zero 2038 carbon goals. Therefore, we created a series of hybridised typologies in the urban grid to reduce the embodied carbon, operational energy and improve user satisfaction.

The tool we have created can then analyse and improve the urban environment through its building performance by optimising typologies. We created an embodied carbon calculator to use within the process and tried to reduce embodied carbon by analysing what can be improved in standard material, construction and transportation methods and then what passive energy and renewable energy generation methods are appropriate to reduce non-renewable operational energy. This allows us to test multiple future scenarios that perform better than existing UK cities. As a specific area of concern, we will be undertaking an agent-based simulation of these optimised typologies to assess quantifiable liveability and residential satisfaction factors.