8 November 2012 – [UPDATED 31 May 2013] Cundall worldwide is the first consultancy to sign up to BioRegional’s One Planet Living, which provides a free set of principles for development and other enterprises that make sustainable calls on the planet’s resources.
One Planet Living has gathered interest from Lend Lease, which says it has adopted One Planet’s10 principles for its Barangaroo project in Sydney, but not registered for certification, Cundall worldwide and WestWyck in Melbourne, the pioneering sustainable housing project set up by Mike Hill and Lorna Pitt.
Cundall UK director David Clark and Australia chief executive officer Simon Wild last week briefed guests on the company’s commitment, at its North Sydney offices.
The business signed up to One Planet in order to push the boundaries of sustainability and to set a challenge to clients and the rest of the industry, they said.
One Planet was not another rating system, Clark said.
“It’s a long term commitment whereby the company sets goals and establishes a path to get there.” Cundall had won a number of accolades for sustainability in the business and in its projects, Clark said, but now the commitment was about “giving a shape” to the more sustainable business processes of the company.
“Sustainability is very vague word. We need a framework that we can use to define what we think sustainability is and we need to challenge ourselves to go further than we’re doing already.”
And it’s a personal commitment.
The company’s 30 partners have all signed up “to a bit of paper”, Clark said. “The policy has everyone’s signature on it.”
In the UK, Wild explained, the company was more focused on engineering; in Australia it was more focused on sustainability consulting.
Now the worldwide operations have “green teams” to get staff more engaged, rather than relying on management. And also to spread influence beyond the company itself.
In the company’s Manchester offices this manifested in some wider influence over the building’s management, Clark said.
“After twisting the landlord’s arm” to find a spot for a worm farm, for instance, the Cundall team was able to influence the landlord to incorporate some energy efficiency measures.
Among the One Planet commitment is a plan to achieve zero carbon by 2025. It also requires writing an action plan, a review by BioRegional, and then “you have a bit of negotiation to challenge you to go further”, Clark said.
In the office a lot revolves around procurement. “They’re asking clients to go beyond minimum compliance, to go further.
“Saying you’re carbon neutral and buying some credits is no longer enough.”
“It’s not easy.” Clark said. “It’s also got to be relevant to your business. And it’s not a check list.”
Wild said that in Australia, the business was already pursuing several of the elements.
But the point of the commitment was to “continue to push the boundaries and demonstrate leadership in our projects and in the way we operate,” Wild said.
“We wanted to broaden our thinking beyond buildings. Procurement for instance: where do we buy our food, our materials? How can we get involved in creating habitats, reducing our business and commuting travel emissions?”
This is not a huge cost, he says, but it can have a big impact.
“It’s almost a challenge put out there that as a business we’re going beyond the stamp of carbon neutral, and trying to achieve a One Planet position and challenge to the rest of the industry.
“Like any of these things some will work well and sometimes take a step backwards.”
UPDATE: Cundall Australia chief executive officer Simon Wild said on 31 May 2013 that since the sign up in November his company’s commitment has included presentations on the concept to more than 300 people at events in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide and it had also became a lead supporter of the Australian One Planet Living Tour underway in late May.
Wild also said a survey of staff showed that 85 per cent of the company’s staff agreed that One Planet endorsement had improved Cundall’s brand, 95 per cent said it had helped them win more work and 80 per cent said it had changed their thoughts on sustainability.
“These kind of statistics make others sit up and listen and we now want to other companies achieve the same benefits,” he said.
The company had also implemented a team of One Planet Sustainability Integrators, focusing on projects in Australia, UK and China, such as One Planet Services; One Planet Communities, One Planet Companies and One Planet Projects.