Architects celebrate ten years of carbon-neutral business

Warren and Mahoney, a multi-disciplinary architectural firm with design studios in six locations across New Zealand and Australia, has reached the noteworthy milestone of 10 years as a carbon-neutral business. The carboNZero certification was the world’s first internationally accredited greenhouse gas scheme.

“When we set out on the journey to reduce our carbon footprint a decade ago, we were taking a leadership role within our industry,” says Graeme Finlay, Principal of Warren and Mahoney. The company was recognised as one of the first 100 to join the United Nations Environment Programme Climate Neutral Network, an initiative to address climate change on a global scale.

As part of their carboNZero certification, Warren and Mahoney has made a long-term commitment to emissions reduction, instigating a management plan to reach set targets. They have registered in the Enviro-Mark programme which helps organisations to develop good internal systems to manage their environmental impact. 

Business-wide strategies include investing in low-energy technology, recycling programmes, purchasing policies for studio requirements and reducing the need for air travel by conducting meetings via Skype or video conferencing. In addition, all studios are in central city locations and employees are encouraged to walk or cycle to meetings.

The company participates in a rigorous annual audit by carboNZero, in which energy use is measured against total earnings and the size of the organisation. Once a carbon tally is arrived at, Warren and Mahoney purchases carbon credits in schemes with an ISO certification.

“For the past ten years, we have invested in a regeneration project in the Hinewai Forest on Banks Peninsula,” says Finlay. “It was important to us that the scheme was local to one of our offices and a scheme which would create a future asset for New Zealand. In the future, we hope to find similar schemes near our other centres.”

While Warren and Mahoney has a strong focus on Sustainable Building Design and green building rating schemes in the company’s commercial, educational, civic and residential work, the development of an ISO-certified carbon zero building still has some way to go. “The science and data collection is getting to a stage where that is theoretically possible, and we would be supportive of any pilot programme,” explains Finlay.

With New Zealand’s recent signing of the Paris Agreement, a legally binding global climate deal, Finlay expects to see sustainability put firmly back on the political and commercial agenda and hopes it will be a policy driver in the next election.
Reaching this milestone is a significant and satisfying achievement. Finlay: “It’s part of our social and environmental responsibility as a forward-thinking company. It was important back in 2007 and continues to be the right thing to do.”