Collective Works is an architecture firm with a unique and flexible approach to design. Their projects range from infrastructure and development projects to educational facilities, parks, and private homes; with a mantra of designing beautifully and responsibly.

Their Pledge:

To be carbon neutral by 2022 and work to reduce residual emissions annually to net zero by 2030.

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The impact opportunity for Carbon Reduction

The global alliance for buildings and construction revealed CO2 emissions from the building sector were the highest ever recorded in 2019. Building construction and operations accounted for the largest contribution of global total energy consumption at 35% and energy-related CO2 emissions at 38%. More than a ¼ of architectural workplaces in the UK are in London, contributing circa £1.52bn of Gross Value Added (in 2018) which continues to rise on average by 7.6% year on year.

Collective Works’ Net Zero Journey

Collective Works worked closely with environmental consultants Giraffe Innovation to conduct a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) of the carbon emissions for three different designs of a domestic rear extension. Giraffe Innovations modelled the carbon impact of the entire project – from the different raw materials to used for the walls, ceiling, roof and floors all the way through to the final construction.

Their Net Zero strategy includes three key areas:


Collective Works has been selected for the Architects Declare Steering Group to collaborate with other architectural companies to advocate for ambitious change across the industry in response to the climate emergency. Amongst other things, they will be mentoring other small practices that sign up to the scheme, to help them achieve net zero and share successes along the way.

Employee Engagement

Collective Works has created an employee incentive scheme that rewards employees each month who are championing sustainable practices within the business.

Supply Chain

Collective Works will use the information from the LCA to help their clients make more informed decisions during the design process and reduce the carbon emissions on a project by project basis. Although not captured in their scope 1, 2 or 3 emissions, this will drive change across the industry by reducing the emissions of the builders and contractors ordering the construction materials.

Surpassing Industry Standards

The aim of the LCA was to see whether Collective Works’ design and construction meets the environmental standards of the Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA). RIBA has set targets for architectural practices to reduce their emissions to 600kg of CO2e in 2020, to 450kg of CO2e by 2025 and 320kg of CO2e by 2030.

The results from the LCA indicate that Collective Works is well within RIBA’s environmental standards, with an almost 50% decrease of carbon emissions from the use of less carbon intensive materials such as timber and reclaimed brick. The analysis will also drive innovation by revealing opportunities to improve design efficiency and sustainability.

“We worked alongside Giraffe Innovation and used the Climate Essentials tool to map our scope 1,2 and 3 emissions and figure out how best to advocate reductions in our supply chain and with our clients. We really enjoyed the programme and would recommend it to anyone else who interested in cutting their footprint.”
Alisdair Ben Dixon
Architect & co-Founder