Cuningham Achieves Net Zero Carbon Across Firm’s Internal Operations

Cuningham Achieves Net Zero Carbon Across Firm’s Internal Operations

Knowing your company’s emissions profile is critical to being a steward of the environment. However, the real work of restoring the earth comes from creating a climate action plan to reduce it. That is why Cuningham is proud to announce the firm’s internal operations are officially Net Zero Carbon!

After a four-year effort to better understand our impact on the global environment, Cuningham is now making a commitment to reduce and offset 100 percent of the firm’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from all Scope 1 and 2 sources, plus a large portion of our Scope 3 emissions. 

How Cuningham Got to Zero

Over the past four years, we watched and tracked the firm’s Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Per EPA, Scope 1 includes emissions under a company’s direct control, typically including vehicle fuel and fossil fuel consumed at a company’s facilities. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions and includes primarily purchased electricity for offices and electric vehicles. Scope 3 is everything else that a company does. For the purposes of our study, Cuningham included air travel, travel to meetings and jobsites, vehicle rental and ride share services, paper use, and electronic equipment.

During this time, we saw our GHG emissions fall from a high of 5.73 metric tons per employee per year to 2.21 metric tons per employee per year — a 61 percent reduction resulting from a combination of changes in company policy and work-from-home efficiencies.

While we are proud to have reduced our emissions by 61 percent, we won’t stop there. As we continue finding ways to expand our analysis and reduce the firm’s GHG emissions across all three scopes, we are also purchasing offsets from Climate Vault for the small remainder of emissions we cannot eliminate on our own (i.e. leased real estate and goods and services contracted from third party vendors). While no offset approach is perfect, we believe Climate Vault does an excellent job providing accurate and defensible offsets.

Continued Commitment to Architecture 2030

At Cuningham, we seek to restore the earth through design. That is why becoming Net Zero Carbon in our internal operations is done in parallel with our commitment to reduce GHG emissions in the projects and experiences we create.

When Cuningham signed the Architecture 2030 Challenge over a decade ago, we committed to take all our projects to Net Zero Carbon by the year 2030. In 2021, the average GHG reduction in Cuningham projects was 56 percent compared to the baseline year provided by the Architecture 2030 Challenge. That puts Cuningham solidly in the top 10 percent of firms belonging to the AIA Large Firm Roundtable. As we continue to create enduring experiences for a healthy world, going above and beyond this commitment remains our top priority.

For more information on Cuningham’s efforts to reach carbon neutrality, reach out to Director of Regenerative Design Paul Hutton.