Climate Emergency

Project date
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On the 11th of September 2019, URBED met to discuss our response to the Climate Emergency. Sustainability has always been an integral part of our practice, but galvanized by recent climate activism, we came together to look at how we can do more. During that meeting we committed to embedding climate awareness more fully into the way we do business, the way we design places and the way we communicate our ideas.

Our action should not end there. This is now a live project. We will continue to learn, reflect on our practice and make changes where they need to be made. The blog posts below will serve as a record of our activity and progress.


Project blog

26.09.2019, 12:54
Climate Perks

As part of our Climate Emergency Live Project we discovered a new scheme aimed at empowering staff to live their values and choose climate-friendly holidays.

Flying is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions globally. For those who love travelling, flying less is one of the most powerful actions you can take to protect the planet. But travelling takes time. Modern life moves fast, and for many, getting away from it all means taking to the skies. 

Climate Perks is a new scheme being piloted by charity 10:10 Climate Action, working with employers to offer paid ‘journey days’ to staff who travel on holiday by train, coach or boat instead of flying. They are kickstarting a clean travel movement, working with climate conscious employers to empower staff to choose low-carbon holidays. They are currently looking for founder members for their pilot to set the standard for climate leadership, and we have decided to join them.

At our Directors Meeting on the 25th September we agreed that URBED will give paid travel time where employees elect to travel via land and sea rather than air. This allows employees to claim paid travel time for additional hours spent travelling up to a maximum of two working days (14 hours) per year, which can be split across a number of trips.

We hope this will encourage our employees to consider more sustainable forms of travel, helping us shift society as a whole to a low-carbon future.

If you are interested in the scheme and/or would like to implement it in your own organisation go to



18.09.2019, 20:27
Supporting the Global Climate Strike

On 20th of September 2019 the largest ever Youth-led Global Climate Strike is taking place. This is demanding that global leaders commit to urgent climate action and is timed to put pressure on the forthcoming UN Climate Summit in New York.

This is a culmination of the actions taken over the last year by an ever-growing number of young climate activists, demanding that we all act on climate change. They are calling on us adults to support them in making these demands.

URBED’s longstanding commitment to sustainable development means that we are happy to add our voice in support of the call for urgent action. On the 20th of September 2019 we will:

  • Enable staff to join the demonstration and the march that will be taking place at Manchester Central Library at 12 noon, through an extended lunch break
  • Enable staff to take paid or unpaid annual leave to take part in day-long support of the youth strike
  • Continue to work towards the commitments detailed in our blog post “Architects Declare and Beyond” published on 17.09.19


More information about the Global Climate Strike can be found here and here.



17.09.2019, 17:23
Architects Declare and Beyond

As a coop we have been undecided about whether to sign the “Architects Declare” commitment; a call to the construction industry to start seriously addressing the twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss in its work. We share many of the concerns thoughtfully and eloquently articulated by John Gilbert Architects in their recent blog post on the subject.

We fear that the commitments set out in the declaration are not strong or specific enough. We fear that they will wobble too easily when exposed to the inevitable compromises that come with working in a commercial practice. We fear that the values expressed in the declaration will be directly undermined by the actions of some signatories.

And yet, we signed.

Ultimately, we decided that if “Architects Declare” is not enough, then we will add to it. We are using our signature as a starting point, a means of expressing our intentions and a way to support those who are trying to make a positive change. The next step is to find stronger, more specific and more measurable ways to deliver those intentions in our work.

We have turned the Climate Emergency into a live and ongoing project. At our initial meeting we set out the following commitments as a first step, and we will be adding to, expanding and refining these as we learn more and develop our thinking:

  • We will carry out internal research and development to develop an evidence base for how to better address climate issues in our work.
  • We will become better at articulating climate issues to our clients so that they can see the value for their projects.
  • We will develop and add climate related questions to our ‘bid/no bid’ criteria to help inform discussions about which projects we take on.
  • We will continue with advocacy work around changes to local and national government policy, so that ‘doing the right thing’ is incentivised among our clients.
  • We will continue to monitor our direct impacts (e.g. travel and office energy use) and keep targets under review. We will publish this information and share it with our peers.