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We’re heading for net zero and taking our clients on the journey

Net Zero Carbon By Marcus Eckersley, Director, Building Services – 10 November 2021

Wooden scrabble tiles standing up spelling TRUST


Marcus Eckersley in office corridor with meeting rooms with glass doors

Marcus Eckersley

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Acting on climate change is both an immediate imperative and a long-term journey. Our role as engineers is to play an active part in enabling the transition from a high-emissions global economy to a net zero one, and our mission at Cundall is to bring all our clients along that pathway.

That takes trust.

Long-term client relationships generate a large volume of our work in Singapore. One of the reasons for this is our stability. The stable nature of the people at Cundall and our ability to seamlessly collaborate globally means clients can rely on us. We also have established relationships with construction contractors and trades here that means we can be confident that we deliver design outcomes that serve client needs.

This is particularly important as collectively the global community moves towards net-zero. Part of how we maintain long-term relationships is making sure clients know what we have in our toolbox. Consulting for Building Services, Digital Buildings, Building Performance, Structures, Sustainability and other disciplines are in a rapid state of change as lower-emissions technologies, more efficient systems and Smart Building innovations emerge.

That means what we can deliver for clients is also continually evolving. This opens up the potential of risk – what if the new idea doesn’t work? If we were the kind of consultants who do our design work and then walk away and leave the builder to it, the risk is real. But that’s not how we do things.

As engineers we find out what the client wants, then we design the best possible solution to achieve it, then we oversee the delivery, the commissioning, and then we go back and check post-occupancy to see that it really did perform as it should.

Sometimes, we have to be pro-active about that last part and actually contact the client and ask them if we can come and check on everything before the warranty period expires. I think that’s a sign of a very good outcome, when we do not hear any feedback about problems because everything is working as was expected.

So, if we propose a smart, net zero asset, our clients know that we will be engaged every step of the way in ensuring that it is delivered as designed and performs as it should. This level of trust is going to be critical moving forward, as Cundall has made a commitment that by 2030 we will not be accepting any clients that are not net zero.

We already recognise that we have a responsibility as engineers to advise our clients that net zero is the way things are going to be across the global economy. We have made a start and by 2030, there is every chance that our clients will be net zero because we will have worked with them to achieve just that.

Net Zero is here – it is not somewhere off in the future, and we need to respond to that. Being able to undertake detailed carbon footprint modelling, emissions reduction planning, design and deliver the building systems and asset management strategies that enable those plans and goals to be achieved is our strength.

We’re also not asking clients to do anything we are not already doing ourselves. As the world’s first carbon neutral certified global consultancy, we monitor our own carbon footprint. We analyse everything, including how our staff travel to work and our own carbon footprints at home.

On a personal level, I see we do not have a choice but to achieve net zero. As I wrote in an article back in 2015 for the British Chamber here in Singapore, I reflected on the economics of climate change. And seemingly only now after the recent COP26 we really are seriously reflecting upon the shift change required in global economics to tackle climate change.

Our planet which is our home, is critically ill. Our global environmental systems need stabilising and the damage to them reversing. We all have a part to play in reversing this current trajectory. Every small decision matters - whether that is a design decision by one of our engineers or a personal decision like buying more locally-grown food because that means lower transport emissions and simultaneously supports the local economy.

As people, we need to start making the right choices. As a company, we have significant power to help our clients to do the same, particularly if we continue to justify their trust in us.