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Collaboration: The key to a zero carbon design pathway

Net Zero Carbon By Lauren Davies, Senior Engineer – 22 June 2022

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Lauren Davies in a white top with a marble background

Lauren Davies

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Cundall are on our journey to zero carbon and have committed to working only on zero carbon projects by 2030. This is a long journey and a daunting task, so when we started this initiative, we knew we needed to break it down and focus on something smaller and nearer in the future to begin with.

We want to work with our clients and bring them along on the journey with us as we strive to achieve our goal. The first step is to issue zero carbon pathways on all our projects and this year we have been working hard to achieve this.

So, what is a pathway? A pathway sets out the steps for a project to get to zero carbon. It is a way of facilitating engagement and discussion with our clients and helping them to move towards zero carbon solutions.

There are no rules on how to set out a pathway and there will be no one-size-fits-all approach. We know there will be different requirements for different regions, disciplines and projects, and we want our teams to have the freedom to set out a pathway that suits their client. In the process of developing the pathway, we’ve sought feedback from zero carbon design advocates across the business, and the big question we’ve had in response, was simply “where do we start?”. In response, the zero carbon design core team created a template document for the pathway.

The template sets out seven steps to zero carbon, providing a framework for review of projects and reduction of carbon. It includes a section to set targets for each of these steps including overall operational energy and embodied carbon targets that direct the ambition of the project and provide something to monitor progress against. There is also a section for Cundall teams to populate the specific design initiatives that we can deliver on the project.

Now, we have been through an initial feedback process and are now launching a trial period for the implementation of the pathway on live projects.

We believe this trial process will be integral to moving the Zero Carbon Design initiative forward, because it is much easier to progress when thinking about a real project rather than thinking conceptually.

The trial period will allow for another opportunity to gather feedback from our people on the process of issuing a pathway to clients, and we also want to gather feedback from our clients. We’re aware that the pathways will only be useful if they are able to influence clients and the design team to make the decisions needed to achieve zero carbon. If there are areas where it doesn’t do that, then we need to relook at the pathway and make improvements so that it is fit for purpose.

When it comes to our clients, we have many that are already keen to start this journey with us, and we are looking forward to working alongside them to make sure we can issue bespoke advice on how they can achieve zero carbon on each of their projects. This experience will help shape the way we move forward with the clients that are further behind in the journey.

Zero Carbon Design 2030 is ultimately about collaboration, and we want to keep collaborating with our clients, our advocates and their teams as we work towards achieving our goals. We know this will be a constantly evolving process as we build up more knowledge and experience, and we know there will always be room for improvement. As a result, we are always open to feedback on how we can be better as we undertake this journey to zero carbon together.