Our offices: Net zero carbon 2021-22

An internal photo showing the space of Max Fordham Edinburgh office

We’re proud to report that the five office buildings we occupy have achieved net zero operational carbon verification for the period April 2021 to April 2022, continuing from initial verification for the period 2018-2019.

The work was carried out to the latest requirements of the UKGBC Net Zero Carbon Building Framework, updated in March 2021. The work goes beyond the requirements for just the current period and also considers needs and proposals for deep decarbonisation between now and 2035.

Carrying out the work has provided further insight into the performance, needs, and challenges in the design and operation of low-energy office buildings.

We found that disrupted working patterns brought about by the coronavirus pandemic significantly affected annual energy consumption. In several of our offices, energy consumption reduced (compared to pre-pandemic years) due to many people working from home. However, in our largest London office, energy use actually increased during the affected period. This was thought to be due to suboptimal heating controls, that were not configured for unusual working patterns. This has since been resolved.

As per the requirements of the UKGBC Net Zero Framework, we're underway implementing a range of energy reduction action plans and decarbonisation plans for our offices. As the chart below indicates, our London office's energy consumption is by far the most significant, accounting for most of our practice's energy and gas consumption.

Bar chart showing annual energy consumption for each Max Fordham office.

Annual Energy Consumption for our five offices 21-22

We undertook a set of feasibility studies exploring options for reducing our energy consumption, ending the use of fossil fuels, and increasing renewable energy supply in our London office. The studies considered the following:

  1. Insulation and draughtproofing, simple repairs

  2. Upgrade single glazing to double

  3. Upgrade existing secondary glazing (office)

  4. Internal wall insulation

  5. Internal roof insulation

  6. Heat pump option 1 (A2W ASHP)

  7. Heat pump option 2 (standard VRF)

  8. Heat pump option 3 (hybrid VRF system)

  9. Install MVHR units

  10. Improved lighting

  11. Upgrading IT Equipment

  12. Installing additional PV panels to the roof

The results of the feasibility studies have been used to inform the development of performance specifications and concept design proposals that are currently being considered further by our Landlord and their designers. The proposals include a range of building fabric improvements, hybrid VRF and water based heating and cooling systems to replace gas boilers, and MVHR. Independently of our Landlord, we are also progressing rollout of more energy-efficient IT systems.

Our detailed experiences of using the UKGBC Net Zero Carbon Building Framework and achieving verified net zero status over several years is benefiting our clients, as we impart the gained knowledge into their projects. Furthermore, our experiences and knowledge sharing are being used in the development of the next generation of NZC building approaches, that is, the development of the UK NZC Buildings Standard.

Download the full report describing the work carried out to achieve net zero for our offices.  

Download the third party audit statement and verification by Circular Ecology.