Net zero resources

We believe all new and refurbished buildings should be targeting net zero carbon. All five of our offices are verified as net zero carbon, and have been since 2020, and we’ve published the Net Zero Carbon Guide as a free and open resource to help the industry navigate the challenges of reducing their operational and embodied carbon to achieve net zero. We have our own MF: NetZero strategy group which brings together all our ideas and ambitions around net zero, both internally for our practice and people, and externally for our projects and collaborators. 

Aerial view of Woodlands Day Nursery and Forest School, Staffordshire University.

Net zero at Max Fordham

From our earliest projects in the 1960s and 1970s, sustainability has always been at the core of what we do, long before the ideas of net zero carbon or decarbonisation had crystallised into the agenda-topping and climate-critical issues that they are today. From sunlight, temperature and air movement to humidity, sound, and occupancy, we’ve always worked with the natural environment rather than against it: delivering low-carbon, low-energy buildings that keep artificial interventions to the absolute minimum. From the Passivhaus proof-of-concept social housing estate at Agar Grove Estate to Max Fordham’s own house (the first residential building in the UK to be verified as net zero carbon), we’ve always been at the forefront of innovative and sustainable building services design. We now design without fossil fuels as the default and have internal governance in place to support engineers to challenge clients that are seeking to use fossil fuels.

Internally, our dedication to reducing our own carbon emissions has led us to become the first business in the UK to achieve net zero carbon verification for operational energy for all five of our offices against the UKGBC Net Zero Carbon Framework. 

Our further commitments and pledges include:

  • Commitment to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 46% by 2030 (based on our 2019 baseline), in line with the commitment to limit global warming to 1.5°C to prevent the worst effects of climate change, and to monitor and seek reductions in our Scope 3 emissions
  • Building Services Engineers Declare commitment, which recognises the importance or the whole construction industry working together to deliver zero carbon and regenerative buildings
  • Signatories of the World GBC Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment for new and existing buildings to rapidly reduce energy and embodied carbon by 2030

We are audited and certified to ISO 14001 and our Environmental Management committee governs the scope and implementation of the commitments in our Environmental Policy, which includes waste management policies for each of our offices, and our robust sustainable travel policy. 


Building Services Engineers Declare


First business in the UK to achieve net zero carbon verification for all of their offices


World GBC Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment


Science Based Targets initiative


Beautiful engineering for a sustainable future

Max Fordham Net Zero Carbon Guide logo (white text on black background)

We first published our Net Zero Carbon Guide in 2020 in recognition of the fact that the world is facing a climate and biodiversity emergency, and that buildings and the construction industry are responsible for around 40% of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions. The Guide is free to all, but primarily it’s a resource for anyone directly involved in the construction of new projects or retrofitting existing buildings. It explains how to achieve ambitious carbon-reducing targets and also acts as an educational tool for students, journalists, and anyone interested in the topic by helping to understand the carbon impact of buildings, and by sharing insights from ongoing research and projects.

Net Zero Carbon Guide

Net zero on projects

Since 2020, we have committed to providing – on any project, at no cost to the client – an initial net zero carbon workshop to lay out a strategic route to net zero carbon.

This workshop aims to provide clients with a clear understanding of the impact of their design decisions, and provide pragmatic and sensible steps to making their buildings net zero carbon. With targeted, focused effort this should be achievable for many projects and budgets.

Additional to this, we are also able to offer more detailed a net zero carbon service, including support and analysis, advising on embodied carbon and incorporating the benefits of circular economy, building information management and quality assurance, as well as an enhanced level of aftercare to optimise the operational performance.