Promote Change!

At White, we take a holistic view of sustainability. Our focus, first and foremost, is on creating values for people. As architects we play a vital role in the way our cities and our societies are shaped. Our buildings and environments create the basic conditions for people to live their lives; to meet, move, work and live. Their homes, schools, hospitals and streets are our canvas.

Anna Graaf

The world faces enormous challenges in tackling social inequality, climate change and diminishing resources. We fully support the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as well as the United Nations agreement for the Global Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals. These agreements and goals set a new agenda for businesses and can be a true inspiration and challenge for working in new ways and seeing new business opportunities. Six of the Global Goals are especially relevant within our own practice, and we have incorporated them into our new business plan.

Global Goal 11 states that sustainable cities and communities should be “inclusive, secure and resilient” and that cities should be a place for everyone. We also need to ensure that qualities that are important for our health and wellbeing, such as daylight, green spaces and playgrounds for children are not unprioritised in new, dense urban developments. To be sustainable, a city needs to prioritise the wellbeing of all its inhabitants. We have the knowledge and drive to make the design of our cities better.

We also need to take action for climate change. Over the next few years, we have set an ambitious target: by 2019, we will design 30 projects with zero carbon footprint. The reason for giving ourselves this challenge is to help speed up the pace of change, because the building industry is moving slowly. We can’t affect change on our own, but we can take responsibility for leading our clients, colleagues and stakeholders to embrace more sustainable practices.

To that end, we have also strengthened our skills in wood technology, knowing it to be a construction material with low climate impact. This has resulted in a commission in Skellefteå to build the world’s tallest wood-framed structure. We want to help those who are seeking positive new models, and are delighted to be working with the city of Leeds in the UK, to create a zero carbon district. Our winning proposal for Runavik at the Faeroe Islands, a zero carbon development, is an excellent example of sustainability being a driver for the design.

As architects we can also influence the goal for more responsible consumption. Influenced by the ‘circular economy’, we are exploring ideas for prioritising recycling and repurposing in our designs: last year, we completed new offices for telecommunications company Telia, which feature 86 percent recycled furniture.

We have to be innovative in our responses, and that includes exploring the role of digitalization. Already today we use VR-cameras and games for involving citizens in crucial planning decisions. New technologies can create smarter buildings, and self-driving technics can release the pressure on space for future cities. Digital design methods can support sustainable, optimised design and lift the architecture and constructions to an even higher level.

While it is vital to improve the environment for whole communities, change begins with the individual. Within White, we have an opportunity to demonstrate best sustainability practice through our own behaviour. Therefore, we are proud that in the last two years we have reduced our own carbon footprint by 62 percent per employee.

We hope that, through our willingness to challenge ourselves, our clients, and wider society, we can contribute to a better, more sustainable future.

I believe that architecture can make a change!

Anna Graaf
Director of Sustainability

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