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An award-winning commitment to zero carbon business

David Clark, Partner in ‘Business Leadership in Sustainability Award’ winner Cundall, (2020 Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building Awards) shares his company’s mission to work exclusively on zero carbon design projects by 2030.

Cundall is a global multi-disciplinary consultancy established over 40 years ago with 20 offices including eight in the Asia-Pac region: Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

What makes this company unique?

Sustainability is at the centre of everything we do. Every partner in the business has signed the sustainability policy we first introduced in 2009 and we regularly update this policy. We are also the first company globally to be recognised as a One Planet Company.

We have embedded sustainability into the vision, mission, and values of the business globally and established systems and training to support this. Our Sustainability Roadmap, released in 2012 and updated in 2018, establishes four pillars of influence – our projects, our workplace, industry leadership and our homes and communities. We have set targets and actions for all of these.

Our targets address multiple environmental and social issues including climate positive action, zero carbon, materials supply chain (circular economy), health and wellbeing, climate adaptation, equity and equality, and nature. We report on our progress annually including a third party audit by Bioregional.

We were a founding signatory of the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment in 2018 and have also set ourselves science-based targets.

It is obvious that solutions to address the many environmental and social issues associated with the built environment won’t be successful if only a few companies do it. This is why we are committed to taking an active role in advocating and sharing knowledge in our industry.

Jeff Oatman, Head of Collaboration and Membership, Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA):

“When Cundall won the World Green Building Council’s Business Leadership in Sustainability Award in 2020, they added to an already impressive list of achievements. These are more than a list, they are tangible achievements driving positive change within the built environment and demonstrating what is possible. GBCA celebrates these exemplary accomplishments and praises Cundall both for pushing boundaries and for rousing our industry into action.”

What advice do you have for companies looking to embed sustainability at the core of their business?

Undertake a materiality survey to find out what is important to your internal and external stakeholders, and benchmark what your peers, suppliers and customers are doing. You can’t tackle everything in one go, so pick the ones most important to your business, and which you can directly influence or control, and prioritise these.

It is essential that senior management has buy-in to selecting the priority issues and also helps to set the level of ambition you want to achieve for these, anywhere from just good enough to world leading. Then set SMART targets and goals for each, followed by actions and initiatives to achieve them.

It’s crucial that everyone in the business, from the most junior staff to the boss, can be engaged and contribute to achieving the targets and goals.

What is the best way that your company can continue to play a leading role in supporting our industry in meeting its goals of total decarbonisation?

We have just launched a new initiative called Zero Carbon Design 2030. This is about collaborating with our clients and industry to deliver energy and carbon solutions necessary to keep global heating below 1.5°C. After 2030 Cundall will only work on projects that are zero carbon. Our first target is that by 2023 every Cundall project will have a documented zero carbon pathway. We recognise not every project we work on can achieve zero carbon today, but we will collaborate closely with our clients and industry to make this transition as fast as possible.

This is a global initiative that engages everyone in Cundall – every office, every discipline and every level – to deliver zero carbon solutions. It is a bottom up rather than top-down approach. Every team has recently prepared their first zero carbon team plan setting out what they will do next and how they will measure and celebrate success. We will support the teams by providing the training, tools and guidance they need, and we will also share this knowledge with industry.

What do you see as the biggest challenge ahead for your company globally and regionally?

There are lots of challenges ahead – but for us the biggest is delivering zero carbon on every project. This is not a challenge we face alone; we will succeed through collaboration and a passion to make a positive difference.


About the awards

The Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building Awards showcase the achievements of businesses and innovators in WorldGBC’s Asia Pacific Network which are leading the way on sustainability in buildings.

The biennial Awards, first held in 2014, celebrates buildings pushing the envelope in sustainability, companies that have integrated sustainability into the core of their operations, and women leading the green building space.

An independent panel of 12 high-profile judges assessed nominations from Asia Pacific green building councils, and selected finalists in three awards categories:

1. The Business Leadership in Sustainability Award

2. The Women in Green Building Leadership Award

3. The Leadership in Sustainable Design and Performance Award

View the full Award Booklet: Asia Pacific Leadership in Green Building Awards 2020 here.

The winner of each category was announced at an online ceremony on the 3rd December 2020.

For more information contact Nellie Cheng at