In 2018 we launched our 20 sustainability targets for 2022 (20:22), which include a number of world-firsts for architects such as our approved science-based targets and our organisation’s carbon neutral status. Though the intention was always to ratchet up this ambition, this accelerated after our declaration of a Climate Emergency, and since then we have pushed harder across every facet of our business, starting with our decision to close our doors on the 20th September to join with the Global Climate Strike and discuss internally how we could increase ambition. The following is a summary of our latest work to tackle the Climate Emergency:
Low-carbon design is at the heart of our sustainability and advocacy work, and although we have a long history of pioneering sustainable projects, we are seeking to push the highest standards on all future developments.
- We advocate lifecycle analysis and targets throughout our whole pipeline, and three live projects -of which two are our largest- are designed as to meet the UKGBC’s Net-Zero: Construction standard.
- We advocate net-zero targets aligned with RIBA/LETI guidance as part of our briefing process, as well as Design for Performance requirements relating to operational carbon.
- As part of our 20:22 targets, we are already committed to undertake lifecycle analysis on all projects by 2022 but aim to bring this forward, particularly for smaller projects that are unable to appoint a specialist consultant.
- We are signatories of the AJ Retrofit First campaign and currently undertake a large number of deep retrofit and refurbishment projects across multiple sectors.
- Since the 20th September, we dedicate all CPD time to Climate Emergency issues, including sessions on building with rammed earth, circular economy facades and internal guidance developed during completed projects using mass-timber.
From an already strong position of having an annual publicly declared carbon footprint that includes everything from energy to coffee, as well as our world-first science-based targets and carbon-neutral achievements, we push even harder to further drive down our footprint.
- We pledge to continue procuring all of our energy from 100% renewable sources. In collaboration with Max Fordham and XCO2, we also investigate how we can retrofit our offices to meet our ambitious science-based targets in the medium and long-term, ensuring we use our fair share of energy in a decarbonised economy.
- We upgraded our science-based targets to align with a 1.5-degree scenario, being one of the first companies in the world to do so.
- We are signatories of the WGBC Net-zero commitment, which builds on a number of our 20:22 commitments.
- We implemented new policies that effectively end short-haul business flights that make up the majority of our transport emissions, in favour of train journeys. Whilst we rarely use taxis, we will seek to only use electric vehicles when taxis are required.
- We reviewed the f&b provision in our three offices and currently transition towards significantly lower carbon options, making plant-based food and drinks our default offering.
As an employee-owned company, we are keen to support our staff in reducing their own impacts, which we believe will also filter into better carbon literacy and better outcomes in day-to-day project work:
- We continue to run an annual personal carbon footprint survey, which we update annually and provide freely to others.
- We support our employees to make more educated personal choices by providing access to resources on low-carbon and ethical lifestyle.
- We support our employees to reduce their use of aviation by becoming the first architectural practice to be members of Climate Perks, providing additional annual leave to compensate for slower low-carbon travel.
- We continue to run a renewable energy switching campaign for staff, with over half of staff now using 100% renewable tariffs.
- We are reviewing our auto-enrolment pension provider and pushing the RIBA to provide better guidance on the climate change impacts of their scheme.
We dedicate a large amount of staff time to external organisations and charities dedicated to climate action and education:
- We are actively involved in UKGBC, the RIBA Sustainable Futures Group and LETI, producing and contributing to industry guidance and proposals for improved regulatory framework.
- We speak at a number of national conferences on the importance of Climate Change
- We are founding members of the Get It Right Initiative, dedicated to reducing construction error and therefore waste on site.
- We support the Anthropocene Architecture school and co-run a studio unit at the University of Cambridge focussed on circular economy principles in relation to a climate emergency.