Become a force for good

The growing global B Corp movement is a testament to societal concern about meeting standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. UK architect Stride Treglown is one of over 4,600 businesses worldwide to have signed up and Pierre Wassenaar chair of Stride Treglown reflects on the initiative the practice is taking.

Sinking House is a message of warning, and hope, to communities across the world. Placed in one of the most iconic locations in Bath, Sinking House appeared semi-submerged and at a tipping point between Pulteney Weir and Pulteney Bridge. The exhibit coincided with the close of Stride Treglown’s Climate Action Relay.

B Corporations (B Corps) are businesses that are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, community, and environment. In February 2021, Stride Treglown, a large UK architectural practice successfully achieved B Corp® certification.

Emerging in 2006 when three friends from business and equity firms started the B Corp movement it has become global with a mission to work towards a world where business is a force for good playing “a leading role in positively impacting and transforming the global economy into a more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative system”. The B Corp movement is a response to the negative impact that business has had on the world which has seen significant social and economic inequality, environmental degradation, the decline of individual well-being and loss of social cohesion.

To become certified we at Stride Treglown underwent a six-month assessment process with every aspect of our business – including our environmental impact – scrutinised and scored. As a B Corp we have to be committed to improving our impact across five areas of influence: governance, workers, environment, customers and community. To retain the certification we must continue to maintain a high level of impact across these areas. Our intention is to improve our score across all areas when we come to re-certify in 2024.

Stride Treglown is an employee-owned architectural practice with over 300 people in multi-disciplinary studios of architects, designers and built-environment specialists who work across the civic, commercial, education, healthcare, infrastructure, residential and technology and innovation sectors.

The practice has no profit centres, which means the company stands or falls on its culture of mutual support and co-operation. The nine offices in Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Plymouth, Truro and Winchester, are not separate entities although it allows the practice to be embedded within the communities with which it works.

In April 2021, Stride Treglown became carbon neutral. For several years, the practice has been making changes to its working practices and offices to reduce emissions. The company’s data has been independently verified by The Future Leap Network (formerly The Future Economy Network) and has signed the United Nations’ Climate Neutral Now Pledge which, like B Corp, is an ongoing commitment to measure, reduce, contribute to, and report on future progress.

We have been investing in the tools and advanced training to upskill our workforce and support our clients to understand and adopt a sustainable approach to designing, delivering and using buildings. Through Passivhaus, Life Cycle Assessment or Building with Nature methodologies we are measuring quantitative impact enabling us to design demonstrably higher quality places for people and the planet.

The Climate Action Relay website (www.climateactionrelay.com) is testament to our commitment towards enacting our social values; Better Places, Empowered People and Resilient Partnerships. Working in partnership with two other architects, we are looking at how we can inspire and provoke action in addressing our ongoing climate emergency. The Climate Action Relay was an eight-week programme aimed at driving knowledge exchange, best practice and positive action on the climate emergency with an event programme including webinars, visits, quizzes and discussion that moved from south to north via regional hubs each week, finishing in Glasgow as COP26 began.

As signatories of Architects Declare and Landscape Architects Declare, we are committed to strengthening our working practices to create architecture and urbanism that has a more positive impact on the world around us.

Postscript: A key message from our book Integrative Briefing for Better Design is how design can be used to enable transformation of the way we work, the way we live, and the we we think. Society is clearly responding to “business as usual” and as Pierre’s piece above shows that there is another way. What if the model of business ownership changed such that instead of a few shareholders owning large chunks of global business, it was owned by those who create the value in those businesses? Is your business thinking the same thing?

The Editors

Some useful links

Stride Treglown: www.stridetreglown.com

B Corporations: www.bcorporation.net

UK B Corp movement: https://bcorporation.uk/

The Future Economy Network: https://www.thefutureeconomynetwork.co.uk/

United Nations’ Climate Neutral Now Pledge: https://unfccc.int/climate-action/climate-neutral-now

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