Tackling emissions at every scope

 |   Microsoft New Zealand Newscentre

As a firm of multidisciplinary architects designing buildings, landscapes and infrastructure that benefit society and the environment, Jasmax is at the forefront of sustainable design.

“We’re interested in projects with a strong social agenda and a strong environmental agenda,” says Roberta Johnson, Head of Communications at Jasmax, where net zero targets are built into the business’s own operations as well as its projects.

Jasmax has been tracking its greenhouse gas emissions since 2015. Scope 1 and 2 emissions from sources like air conditioning and electricity use are easy to measure. “We just go from receipts” says Johnson. Now, the team is zeroing in on scope 3 emissions, such as those from employee travel, which account for 80% of the firm’s carbon footprint.

Jasmax isn’t stopping there, however. “As architects, our greatest impacts result from the projects we design and the future they create.” says Johnson. Building materials like steel and concrete have significant carbon footprints, with most emissions occurring in the construction and demolition phases. So, Jasmax has undertaken externally verified, ISO-accredited research into lifecycle carbon emissions from its projects, and is using the evidence to inform design decisions.

The firm has committed to all projects being net zero by 2030. “Buildings have a long life,” explains Dr Paul Jurasovich, Carbon Research Lead at Jasmax. “So if you want to target net zero by 2050, you have to start making net zero buildings now.”

The company is also finding ways to adapt existing buildings, incorporate timber and other low-carbon steel and concrete substitutes, and design buildings with longer lifespans, which will curb future emissions from demolition and deconstruction. It is also designing buildings that can be dismantled at
end of life, with elements than can be reused rather than demolished and sent to landfill.

The tallest timber structure of its type in New Zealand, the Beatrice Tinsley Building at the University of Canterbury shows how this approach works in practice. In creating the stylish, four-storey learning centre, Jasmax reused the foundations of the structure that had stood there before – an approach that
can reduce project costs by 10–20% and carbon emissions by up to 50% compared to a new build.

Learnings from the Beatrice Tinsley building have paved the way for similar timber and adaptive reuse projects, including B201 for the University of Auckland, which achieves Jasmax’s ground-breaking 2030 carbon targets and is New Zealand’s highest scoring 6 Green Star rated project, making it world-leading.