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22ND April 2021

Earth Day: Where Are We Now?


22ND April 2021


Earth Day is a useful opportunity to reflect on what we’re doing to address the climate crisis – and the kinds of things we could be doing better. At ADP, we’re always striving to ensure that the work we do has the best possible impact on the world. We wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the work we’re doing now, and to let you know where we think there’s room for improvement.

Where We Are

We’ve taken steps over the past year to gain a better understanding of how our work affects communities, our own employees, and the environment. A crucial part of this has been our SBE Toolkit, which was developed by our sustainability lead Karen Turnbull and schools director Claire Mantle to measure the social and environmental impact of our individual projects. Our architects are now using the toolkit on every project they work on.

To complement this, we’re also using One Click LCA to assess the life-cycle footprints of our buildings. This takes account of everything from the origins of the materials used to their eventual reuse if a building is demolished – ensuring that we fully understand the potential benefits or risks of a certain approach. In addition, we’re working with more zero-carbon and sustainable suppliers, so that we can support businesses that share similar values and goals to us.

Earth Day 2021 has a big focus on environmental literacy, and we’re working hard to improve our own skills in tackling the climate crisis. A number of our staff are currently training to become Passivhaus and Retrofit designers, and sharing what they’ve learned with our other employees.

We also share our knowledge more widely through articles, webinars and events – and we’re working with others in the industry to promote change, as signatories to Architects Declare. We’re proud to be active members of several frameworks that put sustainability at the heart of their approach, including Clear Sustainable Futures and the City of Edinburgh Council’s Passivhaus framework. And several of our individual projects are helping drive innovation as sustainable exemplars, such as a LETI Pioneer secondary school that we’re currently designing.

Our architectural projects are central to what we do, but they’re not the whole story. We’re constantly reviewing our sustainable business practices as an ISO 14001–certified company, and consulting with our employees to find out how we can do better. Our sustainability task group meets every month to discuss progress and ideas, and includes architects (and non-architects) from across the practice. Some of the ideas we’ve implemented include the Cycle to Work scheme – supporting more sustainable commutes – and a review of our marketing team’s printing suppliers to reduce the carbon footprint of our communications and events.

Where We’re Going

There’s plenty we could be doing better, and we’ll be working hard over the next year to set the bar as high as possible. We want to keep building our skills in sustainable design, and getting involved in more projects that push the envelope for low-carbon architecture. We want to get better at measuring the impact of our projects, and capturing that information in a central place where it can inform our future work. And we want to continue to communicate with our clients, finding out what their needs are and how we can address them.

Our eventual goal is to become a net zero-carbon organisation. To do that, we’ll need to do a thorough review of where we’re falling short and set ambitious, realistic targets that will help us reach our goal.

Most importantly, we want to continue listening to the communities we serve and work with – from engineers on our teams to local residents, workers, students and visitors. If you have any ideas for how we could work towards a more sustainable future, or if you want to pitch an innovative sustainable project to us, we’d love to hear from you.

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