Sustainable design

We consider sustainability holistically and as part of everything we do – from the buildings we design to how we operate.


Our approach

We not only adhere to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge, and the UKGBC Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap, but we are also committed to going beyond these targets and have joined the UN's Race to Zero. Reducing whole life carbon is key: we aim for all our projects to achieve Net Zero Operational Energy* and be LETI A rated in embodied carbon by 2030.

Sustainability is an integral part of our design process from the earliest stages of design development and throughout completion and operation, following a consistent framework. We iteratively model and assess the performance of our projects against a wide range of criteria relating to environmental impact to reduce operational and embodied carbon, water use, and to improve ecology and biodiversity.

We also measure and optimise health and wellbeing aspects by simulating daylighting, thermal comfort, indoor air quality and acoustic performance. We are constantly exploring new technologies and innovative delivery methods, while conducting cutting-edge research on digitisation and sustainability, including our 7D BIM tool.

Our projects respond to the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement with cost-effective solutions, making use of innovative materials and construction methods that take the whole-of-life into account and follow circular economy principles. We have designed buildings to achieve sustainability credentials including BREEAM, WELL, NABERS and Passivhaus. Our approach aims to secure maximum value for our clients, building users and wider society, without costing the earth.

Sustainable design

What we offer


We can provide support and guidance on selecting the most appropriate sustainability certification schemes for each project and have experience of designing to achieve many benchmarks, including:

  • BREEAM – a world-leading sustainability assessment and certification scheme for the built environment. It ensures environmental quality using quantified measures following a science-based approach.
  • WELL – a performance-based system that takes a holistic approach to health and wellbeing by measuring seven concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.
  • Passivhaus – a fabric-first approach that follows an evidence-based quality assurance process to the delivery of net zero ready buildings.
  • NABERS – Design for Performance and Energy promote a path that greatly goes beyond design-for-compliance targets, resulting in a significantly reduced performance gap between predicted and actual energy performance of new offices and major refurbishments.
Environmental performance

Following a performance-based approach, we accurately measure quality criteria at each stage of design. Before design commences, we can offer advice and assist in clarifying sustainability aspirations and priorities. We strive to set performance targets that go beyond building regulations, in line with the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge, LETI and CIBSE recommendations.

Once we set specific performance targets, we assess performance iteratively, conducting scenario and sensitivity analysis to test the impact of proposed design changes while assessing trade-offs between design targets such as daylighting and overheating, embodied carbon and thermal performance of the building fabric.

Net zero carbon

We aim for all our projects to be net zero carbon* by 2030. We have pledged for no fossil fuels to be used in any of the buildings that we design, and energy use to be minimised beyond local targets.

We follow a fabric-first approach, optimising the building envelope (form factor, orientation, glazing ratio, and thermal properties) before supplementing with mechanical measures. Then, we strive to use energy that is generated by on- and off-site renewables and offset additional emissions. Apart from operational energy use calculations, we perform upfront and lifecycle embodied carbon measurement exercises in house to keep GHG emissions related to materials to a minimum.

By implementing this approach, we use natural resources efficiently and economically.

Featured projects ➜

Whole life carbon and 7D BIM

Our 7D BIM research project resulted in the development of a prototype software that integrates whole life cost and carbon estimation with Building Information Modelling, assisting designers’ decision-making based on accurate data of a building’s performance.

The new technology uses whole life cost and carbon databases to support architects, engineers, and construction industries to make informed decisions at various stages of design development. 7D BIM was awarded the Digital Construction Award at the 2020 Building Awards organised by Building magazine and was Highly Commended by the judges of the AJ100's Best Use of Technology Award.

Circular economy

We consider every angle and strive to design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems through the adoption of circular economy principles. We design for longevity and adaptability, prioritise refurbishment of buildings rather than demolition and the reuse of components rather than recycling.

Our buildings have greatly benefited by the use of modern methods of construction and offsite manufacturing that emit less embodied carbon during both production and installation, offer better thermal performance and assist in maintaining the 'golden thread' of building information when coupled with digital technology.

Post-occupancy evaluation

Post occupancy evaluation provides invaluable insight into client and occupant needs, and the opportunity to calibrate a building’s operation to better meet these. We conduct evaluations that can assist in closing the performance gap between predicted and actual performance to significantly reduce energy consumption while improving occupant satisfaction, comfort and wellbeing.

Ongoing monitoring also enables lessons to be learnt to continuously improve the built environment. Measuring and evaluating the performance of buildings in use can provide assurance that sustainability targets have been met, help to mitigate potential risks and inform the design process of future projects.

*as defined within LETI guidance