Social Value

Our approach to social value

Buildings create value for everyone who uses them – sometimes in ways that are hard to measure. We believe that value goes beyond financial figures, encompassing the joy that a well-designed building can create in the world.

Our understanding of joy rests on the building blocks of sustainability, belonging and engagement. Sustainability is our starting point: designing for the long-term benefit of the people and environments impacted by a space. We create places with a true sense of belonging for the people who will use them, giving opportunities to connect meaningfully with the place and with others who share it. We also design spaces that engage people’s learning, creativity and optimism – enhancing the everyday.

SBE toolkit
School pupil enjoying reading her book

“We go to a lot of effort to measure our impact – we use tools including the B Impact Assessment tool, which looks at our whole organisation, as well as our bespoke SBE Toolkit, which looks at the impact of individual projects.”

– Tom White, ADP's impact and communications executive

Measuring what matters

Our projects impact the people who help bring them to life, those who use them, and the wider world. It’s not always easy to measure that impact, especially when society has spent generations focusing on financial metrics at the expense of other kinds of value.

With that in mind, we’ve created a bespoke tool – the SBE Toolkit – to measure the sustainability, belonging and engagement our projects create. By using this tool throughout a project’s development, and returning after construction to talk to those people using the building, we can maximise our positive impact and learn how to improve.

In 2021, we completed the B Impact Assessment as a way of benchmarking our impact and applied to become a certified B Corporation. B Corps are part of a global movement of businesses that meet the very highest standards of social and environmental performance. We’re currently in the queue to be verified by a B Lab Analyst. Our impact and communications executive, Tom White, has been the driving force throughout this rigorous process as part of his role in leading ADP’s approach to social value.

Employees standing in a line on the streets of Manchester

Employee ownership

What we do doesn’t just impact our clients and the community. Our employees are at the heart of what makes ADP successful, and as an employee-owned business we empower all our staff to drive the practice in the right direction.

Our Employee Council represents employees from every studio, led by an elected director who sits on our board. And all staff share in our success too, through a profit-share scheme and a range of wellbeing initiatives. Our employee-owned structure empowers employees to take a lead in their own personal and professional development, motivating our teams to create great buildings.

Claire on a bicycle in Glasgow, under a tree
volunteering

Sustainability

Climate change and biodiversity loss are the two biggest threats facing humanity, and the built environment has a huge role to play in preventing an ecological disaster. Architects need to lead the way, using our expertise to propose a new, better way of designing our homes, workplaces, schools and cities.

We put sustainability at the heart of everything we do, with a cross-practice sustainability group improving our impact across every studio. Skills and training are crucial to this: our employees include accredited Passivhaus Designers, BREEAM Assessors, and Sustainability Advisors.

A classroom in India funded by Marudyan

Charity support

ADP gives ongoing support to two charities, and our employees regularly raise money for many more through studio events and personal fundraising. We have a long-term partnership with Marudyan UK, which connects children living below the poverty line in India with vital education facilities. We’ve also worked with Macmillan Cancer Support for many years, designing over 130 projects for them and raising funds for their vital work supporting those affected by cancer.

Every year, ADP employees create works of art which we exhibit and sell through an online auction. The money raised goes directly to our partnered charities, and buyers across the world get a unique artwork to keep in their home – paintings, sculptures, even concrete poems!

“The thoughtful, inclusive and sustainable design of our new school goes above and beyond my expectations – and it’s been a joy to see the students' reactions.”

– Kay Wood, Headteacher of Swan School

Volunteering

We want to support our employees to have a positive impact and tackle real world problems – not only in the work they do for ADP, but in their wider lives. As part of this support, we offer all staff one day of paid volunteering leave each year.

Some of the voluntary projects our employees have worked on include designing a sensory garden for a school in Birmingham, helping children to design a new window for Coventry’s City of Culture show windows, and working with a local primary school to convert a double-decker bus into a unique reading space.

Clay Farm Community Centre
Diagram showing Sustainability, Belonging and Engagement