Austin-Smith:Lord commits to Net Zero Emissions by 2030


Austin-Smith:Lord commits to Net Zero Emissions by 2030

Blog by Graham Ross, Chief Executive, Austin-Smith:Lord

There’s been a blizzard of declarations and pledges made by governments and businesses at COP26. Net zero targets have been set and commitments to reduce emissions, carbon and waste and restore nature have been pledged. These have been met with some accusations of ‘greenwashing’ and skepticism that climate action will fall short of the commitments made.

At the time of writing negotiations at COP26 in Glasgow are ongoing, grappling to find global agreement to address climate change. It is easy to feel a sense of powerlessness in these circumstances. However, undeterred, Austin-Smith:Lord remain focused on doing what we can as a Creative Collective design practice, and as a business with Studios in five UK cities, to continue to advocate for net zero and circular design to reduce carbon, energy, waste and restore biodiversity.

At Austin-Smith:Lord, following all staff workshops earlier this year, we adopted our refreshed Mission, “to enhance life and environments by design”. To address the urgencies of our time, and inspired by our founders’ guiding principles, we also restated our commitment to promoting, Design Excellence, Sustainability, Health and Wellbeing, Collaboration, Integrity and Professionalism, Knowledge Sharing and Life-long Learning.

We also agreed, following our 2021 all staff conference in September, to commit to be a Net Zero Emissions practice by 2030. To this end we have submitted our SME Climate Commitment to the UK’s Climate Hub (part of the UN’s Race to Zero campaign) to be Net Zero Emissions by 2030, and to monitor and report on progress against this annually.

We are currently developing our Net Zero Action Plan and considering the Greenhouse Gas Protocols, direct and indirect emissions and the implications of Scope 1, 2, and 3 categorisations on the way we work and the work we do. It will be a challenge. We will seek expert guidance and publish our Action Plan as part of our next, and first, Annual Report.

Initial analysis would suggest that we can achieve our Scope 1 and 2 targets far sooner than 2030. To this end we will seek to identify and publish incremental targets for 2022 and every year thereafter through the coming decade. This should ensure early impact and avoid deferring action to a later date.

We were also proud to endorse the RIBA / Architects Declare – Built for the Environment report and its recommendations and we restate our support and eagerness to work with our peers and others in the design and construction community to progress this agenda. We also welcome the recent publication of Architects Declare Practice Guide 2021 which outlines a Practice Roadmap alongside a Project Design Guide which we will look to embed in to our way of working.

Austin-Smith:Lord has a long track record, demonstrable commitment and expertise in sustainable design practice. But we recognise the urgent need to do more and to make a positive impact by design.

Today the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference theme focusses on Cities, Regions and the Built Environment. As architects, landscape architects, conservation architects, urbanists and interior designers we want to ensure we can make a positive impact. Working together, and in collaboration with others, we intend to make effective progress and to learn from others, share knowledge and advocate for climate action in our professions and through the work we do.

Image Credit: Glasgow Science Centre and HawkAye Scotland