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Make Neutral

Make Neutral

We have a dedicated cross-sector sustainability working group, Make Neutral, to address the climate emergency. With members from teams across our three studios, the group meets monthly to discuss Make’s current projects, industry best practice, and the technical challenges the climate emergency presents to architectural design.

By sharing knowledge, challenging norms and asking the hard questions, Make Neutral ensures every Maker is equipped with the information, tools and confidence to commit to climate action. Our collective knowledge bank includes certified Passivhaus designers, urban designers and interior architects, as well as representatives from the Make modelshop and our finance, visualisation and communications teams. Along with monthly meetings, Make Neutral also organises sustainability-focused CPDs, guest speakers, and factory and site visits.

We’re committed to fostering a passionate, engaged practice where everyone can contribute their ideas, bring their interests and expertise to the table, and expand their knowledge on carbon, wellbeing-oriented design and the circular economy.

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Make Neutral Day

Make Neutral Day is an annual event in Make’s calendar where we down tools for the day to come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of sustainable design and business.

In 2022 we focused on carbon, with interactive workshops covering whole-life carbon, our studio footprint, sustainable materials, nature-based solutions and the impact of our projects. In 2023 we took a step back to think more broadly about ethics within our industry and our impact on climate and society. The latest workshops looked at how we talk about sustainability, how our designs affect people’s physical health, what it means to be a B Corp, and whether natural materials really can restore the environment.

We’ve also welcomed guest speakers into the studio for the occasion. Previous guests include Smith Mordak (then Director of Sustainability and Physics at Buro Happold, now Chief Executive of UKGBC) and Cecilia Lindström (Research Director at Future Places Studio).

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Our in-house sustainability team

Led by a practising architect, our dedicated in-house sustainability team includes a materials scientist, a sustainable design coordinator and two sustainability researchers. As well as overseeing Make Neutral, the team also serves as a knowledge hub for the wider practice.

Working with project teams, clients and consultants, the team devises and implements sustainable design strategies across all sectors and project typologies. The aim is to holistically address sustainability from concept to completion. This means providing technical support on embodied and operational carbon, benchmarking whole-life carbon emissions, comparing social outcomes, looking at sustainable sourcing of materials, assessing biodiversity impact and more.

Guided by Make’s six principles of sustainability, the team reviews project performance against KPIs to ensure we meet our internal strategic sustainability targets, measure improvements and develop ambitious design concepts to lighten our impact.

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Sustainable Design Toolkit

Our Sustainable Design Toolkit is Make’s internal manual for approaching sustainable design, benchmarking our projects and measuring our impact. Used by all three studios, the toolkit guides project teams through our KPIs, workstreams, zero-carbon approach and internal support services. It’s key to ensuring sustainable design is embedded across all aspects of the practice.

Research

In addition to supporting project teams, our sustainability team helps us discover innovative materials, systems and process that support low-carbon design solutions and the green economy. Makers from the team, as well as the wider practice, also undertake research in collaboration with industry and institutional partners to build a shared knowledge around sustainability – something we believe is crucial to address the climate emergency.

Recent articles explore the carbon intensity of building facades, the role of hydrogen power in the built environment, and the interplay between regenerative travel and architecture. We’ve also conducted sponsored university research on the impact of high-density urban retrofit schemes compared to new construction. We’re currently collaborating on live research projects funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Our sustainability team collaborate on campaigns with Make’s in-house research arm, the Future Spaces Foundation, and contributes to Exchange, our thought leadership series exploring the challenges and trends in the property industry. Outside the practice, members of the team also advise on industry groups like the WPA and BCO, and represent Make at conferences and on podcasts.

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