Today is Earth Day 2021 and Scott Carver’s team of architects, interior designers, landscape architects and urban designers says it is taking this moment to announce its commitment to sustainable transformation.

“Over the coming weeks,” the firm says, “we will share the journey that we have embarked upon as a practice in reviewing our environmental and socially sustainable goals, beginning with the unique process we went through in 2020.”

“We recognised the necessary shift to an industry that is more environmentally and socially considered and wanted to be in control of what this future would look like in architecture, interior and landscape design.”

“In August last year we decided to commit to a period of research and review in order to formulate a sustainable transformation plan that was tailored to suit our practice, projects and clients,” according to the firm.

We asked Senior Associate Tina Fox, Scott Carver’s Sustainability Transformation Group leader, about this process.

Can you explain what prompted Scott Carver to review its commitment to sustainability last year?

We were galvanised into action by the incredible work of the Architects Declare Australia movement and the catastrophic bushfire crisis which bought into sharp focus the reality of living with a volatile climate in Australia. Covid was also an incredible shock that made us realise some home truths. Firstly, that we cannot afford to live in ignorance and that the unthinkable can and does happen. Secondly, and on a more positive side, it became clear that massive change is possible and we need to listen to the science.

Talk us through the process that Scott Carver undertook.

Our Managing Director, Rodney Paesler, challenged me and the sustainability team to come up with a transformation plan for the practice in 90 days. We split the three-month period into distinct phases starting with a practice and projects audit, followed by the identification of opportunities before moving into goal setting and planning.

Why was it important for the plan to be developed in this way?

We wanted to base our plan on sound learning and data that was rooted in the reality of working at Scott Carver. The audit phase was used to interview every single staff member and to conduct an anonymous survey of current perceptions and methods. We also analysed our peers and client organisations to understand the ambitions and direction of the wider industry. We needed to identify our key issues before we could start to identify the opportunities.

What was the outcome of this process?

We were able to consolidate all our learnings and data into a one-page plan that clearly sets out our environmentally and socially sustainable principles and goals. We made sure that the principles covered all areas of the studio from practice to projects and people and we wanted to have goals that were easier short term wins as well as long term ambitions.

What were the most positive aspects of the 90 day phase?

Every single member of Scott Carver was a part of this process. We listened to everyone’s experience and ideas. It also gave us an opportunity to reflect on the good work, award winning projects and progress that has already been made by the studio and to ensure that staff old and new are aware of our journey.

Any surprises?

From the interviews we learnt that our staff are overwhelmingly concerned about the impact of the industry on the natural environment. In fact 96% of staff identified this concern. They also told us that we should be collectively engaged in sustainability at all levels of the business. This was something that we intuitively felt was true but it’s great to be able to back this up with proof that can be used to cement our plans and commitments.

What’s next?

We are finding that it is important, as in all projects, to hold regular progress meetings and ensure that tasks are clearly assigned and defined whilst holding the sustainability team accountable to the overall vision. We have also worked hard to spread the workload in such a way that consistent progress is being made over across the goals without overloading any one individual.

How is the office reacting to this new plan?

We made sure that at the end of each phase in our 90-day research plan we presented back to the office to keep everyone involved and up to date. Our aim was to ensure that we didn’t spring any surprises or sudden changes on the office. We wanted to take the staff and culture with us and make everyone part of the change.  We realise that commitment comes through sustained action which needs to be realistic and mindful of individual project needs and established ways of working. We have a lot of work to do in 2021 but it is much easier with the foundation of a thoroughly researched plan and the approval and commitment of the whole Scott Carver team.

Image:  The team at Scott Carver. / Supplied.