Perspectives, Press Releases April 22, 2021

What’s on interior’s to-do list?

Designers on track to deliver on first-ever net-zero carbon interiors pledge, and launch new sustainable materials database
  • Perkins&Will share progress update on delivering their Net-Zero Now pledge
  • Major firms JLL, Citi, Unilever, Mace, and ISG part of the consultation process
  • Sustainability team announce soft launch of new circular materials data base.
  • Searchable directory enables designers to specify sustainable and circular products and materials from suppliers

April 2021, Six months since the launch of the Net-Zero Carbon interiors pledge, which ensures the internal fit-out of offices and commercial buildings will be net-zero embodied carbon, the London studio of architecture and design firm Perkins&Will has shared its first progress update.

A new sustainability database

A major outcome since the report launched in October 2020 is the new Now Database, a searchable directory of products that enables the studio’s designers to specify products that support its net-zero interior pledge. It has been developed collaboratively with suppliers to capture products from suppliers of all sizes, large or small, and to ensure Perkins&Will measure contributions in a fair and equitable way.

Products and materials are scored by Perkins&Will’s in-house sustainability team across various metrics that include sustainability, recyclability, circular principles, and areas of focus such as workers rights and the diversity of the supplier’s organisations.

Going forward, designers and architects at Perkins&Will London and Dublin studios will use this database to prioritise a supply chain that reflects its goal for a sustainable future.

As with Perkins&Will’s Transparency platform, a publicly accessible site that specifies healthy materials, the Now Database aims to sit alongside Transparency as the go-to site for sustainable and circular designed products and materials. Additionally, the firm has a long-term vision to make the Now Database accessible to all and ensure the entire industry works together to tackle the climate challenges ahead.

Meeting Net-Zero Pledge Targets

Perkins&Will’s internal Net-Zero Champions team regularly connects with the market to understand new solutions, challenge ways of thinking, and explore opportunities to work together. The Net-Zero Champions group do fortnightly internal sessions to continuously share knowledge, reporting back on elements of investigation and what the wider studio can learn from. This directly ensures the target set out in the manifesto of at least one section of a project, whether its location, package or finish, is net-zero by Design Stage 2.

Led by Adam Strudwick, principal of the interiors team, the studio launched a consultation process in Q4 2020 with key clients, including JLL, Citi, and Unilever, major contractors such as Mace, ISG, and Overbury as well as supplier partners, sub-contractors, and furniture manufacturers Knoll, Senator, and Orangebox amongst others. The consultation helped Perkins&Will better understand the challenges and opportunities for holistically delivering net-zero embodied carbon interiors and ensure that its supply chain meets net-zero requirements.

Other goals outlined in Perkins&Will’s Net-Zero Now manifesto are also on track which includes:

  • By 2030 all projects will be net-zero embodied carbon as demonstrated through a Whole Life Carbon Assessment.
  • LCA on every project.  All projects now have a whole life carbon assessment and a carbon budget developed at Conept design stage.
  • Publish Circular Design Guidelines for use on all interior projects.
  • Mandate EPDs. All materials require completed EPD with circular design commentary.

After launching its manifesto, Perkins&Will realised it needed to go deeper than focusing on EPDs alone. While EPDs are vital to pushing the industry forward, it is equally essential that small manufacturers with newer solutions who may not yet develop an EPD for their project are also supported.

A key element of our pledge was full transparency on our progress, something we feel is often missing on some Sustainability pledges.  We know some targets set out within the Net-Zero Now manifesto will require more work to stay on plan. Off-plan targets include:

  • By the end of 2021, half of our projects will be designed to be 100% circular.
  • Provide a net-zero embodied carbon or circular design strategy at RIBA stage 2 for all new projects, at no cost to the project.
How we will get there
This journey will take time. We need to be proactive and realistic, and we have developed these milestones to measure our progress.

Commenting on this, Adam Strudwick, principal, Perkins&Will, said: “We want to maintain transparency about all the work we do, whether it applies to targets that are on track or pledges we’ve made that need a bit more work to achieve.

“We are already a quarter through 2021, and there is still a long way to go for us to be confident that we will meet the target that half of our projects will be designed to be 100 percent circular by the end of this year.  We estimate we are ten percent to the target. We are also working harder on what we mean and can achieve through embedded circular design in interiors.

“Furthermore, we have not yet been able to do a detailed Stage 2 report on every project started from October last year as per our manifesto.  This is mainly down to the technical requirement being in place at the right time through the project flow, and it’s something we need to improve on in Q2. Since October 2020, 25 percent of projects have had a full report produced.”

Asif Din, sustainability director, Perkins&Will, said: “Perkins&Will has always considered the environment as a tenet of all our designs, part of this is having a deep understanding of materials and their lifecycles. The net- zero carbon goals build on the Transparency initiative to enable a circular construction industry. However, there is a need to provide clear definitions of circular materials processes within a carbon analysis, which is why we are working with the supply chain to learn what is possible in suggesting initial metrics and definitions.

“The Now Database brings our firm one step closer to achieving the ambitious but necessary targets set out within our net-zero pledge. We aim to eventually make this database accessible to all, to allow the whole construction supply chain from designers to installers, to collectively tackle the climate challenges ahead.”

  • For more information or access to the database, please contact [email protected]
  • For suppliers that would like to enter their products can fill out this form.