Why ESG is Key06 February 2023

MCA has been delivering outstanding and sustainable design projects to our clients for over thirty years. Working across multiple sectors, we provide architectural services to projects of varying scales and complexities, from capacious office spaces for global companies to healthcare buildings, hotels, retail and residential developments. We connect with our clients, listening carefully and engaging them in a collaborative way.

Our design is underpinned by principles of sustainability and an ISO 14001 commitment to achieve and exceed legal environmental design standards. This is why we are now keen to share the benefits of our ESG approach.

What exactly is an ESG approach?

ESG comprises three pillars: environmental, social and governance. Each pillar collectively contributes to effective performance, with knock-on positive impacts for society and the natural world. The main difference between traditional sustainability and ESG is in the area of governance, where the project leaders have a duty to ensure the balancing of outcomes for the triple bottom line – environmental wellbeing, social wellbeing and economic performance.

How does it work in practice?

Each MCA project is the result of a meticulous, in-depth design process, regardless of its context, size or scope. The process starts with listening to our clients, understanding their needs and producing design-led solutions uniquely tailored to their context, the needs of the building users and the defined sustainability goals.

We approach every job as a unique challenge and an exciting opportunity to develop the most dynamic and efficient buildings. Our goal is to source innovative solutions and breakthrough ideas that are both practical and contributory to long-term system-wide changes through our diversity of experience and experts. We research and implement circular processes and innovative partnerships which can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of a building while at the same time contributing to the user experience and natural aesthetic of the location.

When we worked on Cumberland Place Phase 1 our ESG philosophy gave all three pillars equal importance. The design approach, with respect to the existing building, surrounding historic grain and local cultural reference was embraced and championed, meaning that our end result was a refurbishment that combined character and individuality. An inviting and attractive space both inside and out. Crucially this aesthetic was achieved without compromise to the other pillars. Cumberland Place was completed to Platinum LEED standard, making it one of the few office buildings in Ireland to achieve this highest LEED certification.

LEED and BREEAM are just two examples of internationally recognised sustainability assessment methods for infrastructure and buildings. Some areas which are evaluated include energy and water use, health and wellbeing, pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes. Each building is given a rating benchmark level which can be compared against other developments. A common planning condition for either retrofits or new builds is that they are LEED or BREEAM compliant. Through our rigorous ESG philosophy we have achieved LEED and BREEAM accreditation for a range of our clients' building projects such as the Exo Building, 40 Molesworth Street and Twitter EMEA to name a few.

However, it’s not just international certifications we target. Small and relatively simple changes can have a huge impact on a property’s sustainability, desirability, and subsequent return on investment. Not only this but using ethically sourced and recycled materials will also assist in the ESG agenda. By drilling down into operational efficiencies such as energy efficiency, waste reduction and increasing the use of renewable energy sources, the carbon off-set can combine to create a net zero building.

Taking it to the next step, we recognise that throughout the lifecycle of the building, it is likely that there may be a number of different occupants, possibly fitting out and stripping the space creating additional material, resources and costs associated with this. By ensuring flexibility within the building and in any subsequent redesigns or fit-outs, deconstruction will be easier and allow for materials to be reused or recycled. It will also allow the building to be reconfigured and readapted for a range of future uses. Simply put, to have ESG at the forefront will allow for an ESG focused demolition or rebuild if the time comes. It is foresight like this which means that ESG is a far more holistic and impactful approach than separating sustainability from other project goals.

With ESG improvements creating such drastic differentials there’s absolutely no reason to hold back. Whether it’s a workplace or a hospital; every space offers a design opportunity to improve a person’s engagement with their immediate environment. It should add quality, both socially and environmentally. Talk to us today about how we can guide your project through the ESG pillars.