Core Collective Architects are carbon neutral

Core Collective Architects studio at The Long House | Photographer: Adam Gibson | Facilitated by Gemma Savio

Core Collective Architects are certified carbon neutral

Core Collective Architects have taken their practice carbon neutral. Associate, Emily Ouston sat down with the Australian Institute of Architects to chat
about in-house auditing, sustainable specifying and the power of collegiate knowledge-sharing.

We’ve always been a sustainability-minded studio. In all our work, we strive to produce low-energy buildings and have developed expertise in the design of thermally efficient houses in particular. Our commitment to sustainable practice ramped up when, along with a couple of others in the team, I joined the Tasmanian working group of Architects Declare. When we became signatories of Architects Declare in 2020, we made the decision that we would uphold the commitments outlined in the declaration and also lead by example – being certified carbon neutral is an important part of that.

There are 37 Architects Declare signatory practices in Tasmania, six of whom are certified carbon neutral to date, with more underway. Since committing to Architects Declare, there’s been an active drive to share knowledge and we’ve grown our local forum through various meetings and events. We organise project tours, in-studio conversations and we’re currently working on a kit of shared resources that are Tasmania specific – sustainable supplier and contacts lists, materials information and details of services available locally that help make the construction industry more sustainable. Through this network, we’ve recently discovered Reprocess Tas, a company that salvage and repurpose construction waste for reuse.

Core Collective Architects studio at The Long House | Photographer: Adam Gibson
Core Collective Architects studio at The Long House | Photographer: Adam Gibson
Venus Bay House | Core Collective Architects | Photographer: Derek Swalwell

We’ve always been conscious of where we source materials, how they are produced and their potential lifecycle, including where and how they may be recycled or reused. We now subscribe to The GreenBook, which is an online resource that we regularly refer to when specifying. It outlines the embodied carbon per unit of building materials and products so that you can compare options quite easily and make better-informed choices. It’s been great as an in-house resource as it means we are guided to reduce the environmental impact of a project very early in the design process. We are increasingly working with clients who share our environmental agenda, and are engaging Life Cycle Analysis consultants more regularly, which takes this agency one step further.

Similarly, we initially undertook a self-auditing process when we decided to take the studio carbon neutral. This involved an online calculation method where we were then directed to purchase offsets through the same system. In that instance we retired our carbon credits through two projects – a reforestation project in Borneo and a bio-gas project in Chile. As a studio of only four people at the time, it was advised that the self-audit process was most suitable. However, we have since met with a registered consultant and are working towards formal carbon neutral certification with Climate Active. In the process of going carbon-neutral we have succeeded in getting our entire Long House community; a cultural hub of offices, events and a boutique gym; switched to 100% certified green power. It took time but was a huge win for our little community.

We’re always seeking to refine our message to potential clients as our goal is to work with like-minded people. We’re a small practice so every project we do really packs a punch as far the time we spend on it. We really strive for every project in our office to be aligned with our values so that it’s meaningful and fulfilling for everyone involved. Carbon neutral certification is a way of being explicit about what’s important to us. We’re in the process of writing a sustainability action plan and we’ll be putting that on the website to communicate in more detail how we embed those values into the way that we work.

Our commitment to climate action

The Australian Institute of Architects is supporting all members in their shift to becoming carbon neutral – it’s the simplest step towards reaching zero.

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