How far have Australian architects come since pledging to become carbon neutral? We explore Australia’s leading certified carbon neutral architecture firms.
July 26th, 2021
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past couple of years, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the Architects Declare movement, and the flurry of Australian architecture firms that pledged their commitment to becoming carbon neutral, in the wake of that hellish summer of 2019/20. Fast-forward to July 2021, and Fender Katsalidis has just issued the splendid news of its new status—officiated by Climate Active—amongst Australia’s certified carbon neutral architecture firms.
This news got us to thinking: how far have Australian architects come, since pledging en masse to become carbon neutral? What other leading Australian architecture practices can say that they are certified carbon neutral? Further to that, what does it mean? And where do these ‘certifications’ come from?
Carbon neutral certifications apply to businesses/organisations that want to, and can, prove that they are actively and genuinely operating with the sustainability of the planet in mind. When a business or organisation, such as an architecture firm, is certified carbon neutral it means that, its business operations—provision of services included—result in net zero emissions.
The authority to accredit architects, as well as other businesses, with a carbon neutral certification doesn’t belong to a single governing body, but a number of organisations. Carbon Reduction Institute (CRI) and Climate Active are two of the foremost Australian accrediting bodies – and each has its own certification programs.
Founded in 2006, CRI has been developing and growing a low carbon economy where organisations and consumers can identify those organisations that take genuine action on climate change. CRI fosters this mission through the NoCO2 Certification Program; a logo certification program that enables organisations to communicate their environmental credentials to the world, at the cost of ongoing membership fees. Since its inception the program has become the most widely recognised and subscribed to climate action certification in Australia.
Climate Active is an ongoing partnership between the Australian Government and Australian businesses to drive voluntary climate action. Through its Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard (formerly known as the National Carbon Offset Standard), Climate Active issues its certified carbon neutral stamp of approval to businesses that have achieved a state of producing nil CO2 emissions, at the cost of a licensing fee.
With_Architecture Studio was Australia’s first certified carbon neutral architecture practice. It also achieved the nation’s first green star rated multi-residential design awarded by GBCA. Established in Perth in 1985, With_Architecture Studio takes pride in responsible design that shows leadership and helps to create places that inspire and enable people.
Breathe Architecture is a Melbourne based studio, designing world class architecture with an enduring and meaningful impact on housing affordability, accessibility, and sustainability. The practice has maintained its position at the forefront of sustainable design its since inception, in 2001; and through award-winning built works, advocacy and design leadership, have built a reputation for delivering high-quality architectural solutions.
ClarkeHopkinsClarke has been operating as a carbon neutral business since 2018, and in 2020 was certified by the Australian Government’s official climate body Climate Active. The practice’s carbon footprint is currently 1/3 that of other businesses of a similar size. ClarkeHopkinsClarke offsets its unavoidable emissions by purchasing gold standard carbon credits that support old growth forest preservation in Tasmania, natural habitat protection and indigenous environmental management in Timor Leste and environmental management projects on Cape York through the Expand Foundation.
Based in Sydney since its establishment in 2008, Koichi Takada Architects is a leading architecture practice that believes in enriching communities through organic design. The practice’s approach to architecture is an organic one, seeking to reconnect people with the natural surroundings by bringing nature back into the urban environment.
Sustainability has always been a cornerstone of thinking at Six Degrees, making the practice experts in the creation of socially inclusive, sustainable buildings, interiors and urban spaces. Over 30 years the practice has developed a sophisticated understanding of everything from basic passive thermal design principles to more complex technological sustainable design solutions, and has been recognised through numerous state and national sustainability awards.
One of John Wardle Architects’ fundamental design principles is to explore all opportunities to limit the negative impact that construction of buildings and cities has upon the climate and natural environment. Through research, collaboration, and advocacy JWA have achieved sustainable design outcomes working with a wide range of clients across diverse sites and building types.
SJB is a multi-disciplinary practice with an integrated approach to architecture, interior design, urban design and planning. The practice responds sensitively to the urban fabric of cities and regions, striving to deliver unique places and spaces that support creativity, equity and the environment.
Hayball strives to proactively meet the environmental challenges facing the construction industry and promote the importance of environmental consideration in all that it does. The practice supports ambitions to target energy efficiency ratings and bring award-winning experience working with the Green Star rating tools, including Serrata Apartments and the Library at the Dock.
Established in 2005, CO-AP has completed a diverse range of builds including houses and apartments, showroom and office fit-outs, hospitality design, events, educational and retail design. The practice takes a collaborative approach to realising fresh outcomes for each project, with an emphasis on research and development and an inherent regard for sustainability.
Elenberg Fraser does not simply aim to keep up with industry standards, but rather act as a force in driving sustainable thinking forward, challenging current paradigms. Through continual advocacy, training, research, and learning, the practice fosters a culture around sustainability which is positive, engaging, meaningful and enriching for all.
Spanning cultural, commercial, multi-residential, seniors living and hotel typologies, Fender Katsalidis delivers holistic solutions in architecture, masterplanning, urban design and interiors. The practice’s core philosophies – place, sustainability and innovation – are embedded across its project portfolio.
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